Minister apologises for divorce form fault
The errors arose due to a problem with the online self-assessment form available on the department’s website.
The extent of the complications that the mistake has caused was acknowledged by Justice Minister Shailesh Vara yesterday, with fears that some couples may have to renegotiate the terms of a divorce settlement which they thought had been dealt with.
The error – which falsely inflated the wealth of parties when they inputted information - is understood to have gone unnoticed for a considerable period of time and finally came to light just before Christmas.
Ms Vara said she had written to all the affected parties to inform them of the problem.
“This failure should not have happened. Divorce proceedings can be very difficult and I sincerely apologise for this situation and any distress it may have caused.”
Labour’s justice spokesman, Andy Slaughter, said that the problem would have significant implications for those affected.
“The fact that this unforgivable mistake was not picked up by ministers for over four years casts doubt upon the competence of the Ministry of Justice.”
Jo Edwards, who chairs Resolution, a family law association, said: “It is only right that the Justice Minister has apologised for the MoJ’s failure.
“Whilst the Form E error has not impacted on as many couples as first feared, for the 3,600 cases affected the consequences may be profound. Two-thirds of those have ended already.”
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