With the online divorce portal making applying for a divorce easier than ever, this case demonstrates how important it is to ensure divorce petitions are properly drafted.
In this case, the wife used a "para law" firm to issue her initial divorce petition. She later realised the consequences of the errors within that document, and attempted to argue that it didn't reflect her instructions, and not being a fluent English speaker, that she hadn't understood what the document said. The husband wanted an order to be allowed to review the files of the wife's previous advisors to see what her instructions had been at the time.
The case raises issues of legal professional privilege, but the wider point to register is that the contents of the divorce petition are important, and can have bearing on the case at a later stage. It's crucial that the petitioner understands the contents of the petition, and that it is signed with a statement of truth, stating that the petitioner believes the facts within it to be true.
In the context of Part III MFPA 1984 financial remedy proceedings, VD, the husband ('H'), issued a summons for an order that his wife, AG ('W'), produce the files of her previous legal advisors. This application raising issues of legal professional privilege and the circumstances in which it can be said that the cloak has been lifted and privilege waived. H's application followed W seeking to depart from the written terms of her divorce petition on the basis that it did not reflect her instructions to her previous lawyers. The question for Mr Justice Cohen was whether in setting out her case, W had opened the door of the notional consulting room in which she and her previous advisors had met and was seeking to explain and / or rely on what would otherwise be a privileged process?