From April 2022 when we submit financial consent orders to the Court for approval, we need to use the new and improved Statement of Information for a Consent Order.
Below I shall just highlight some of the main changes and improvements.
Under the old form, we only ever needed to include the capital and income of the parties’ pre implementation. Now we have boxes to complete for capital and income pre implementation and post implementation. This is a massive improvement. Problems had arisen previously when Judges would query the consent order not understanding what the true net effect of the order was. With the advent of boxes 8, 9, 10 and 11 on the new form, those questions from Judges should now diminish.
Under the old form, we had tiny boxes in which to include all the capital. This is now improved on the new form where you can list the addresses of properties 1 and 2. If there are extra properties you are told to attach extra sheets. This is welcome.
In the post implementation box 10 of the form, it tells you that you can attach a net effect schedule as well if you want to. With more than two properties, this would be beneficial. With the old form, most of us have become accustomed to saying on the main body of the form itself “Please see attached schedule for the net effect”. We are therefore mainly accustomed now to doing an existing schedule as things stand pre implementation and a net effect schedule. If we are in proceedings, we shall by now all be familiar with the new Form ES2 that we need to use for capital in any event. If an ES2 has been done before the Statement of Information for a Consent Order, it would undoubtedly be feasible to say in the pre implementation of capital, box 8, “Please see ES2 attached”.
An interesting feature with boxes 9 and 11 is when you are told to insert income, for net income, it states that this is after tax and NI and that you should use the information on the latest wage slip if the client is an employee. However, it does not advocate deducting the pension contributions which also often are deducted on a wage slip.
Box 13 of the form is new in that you now need to explain the main reason for the terms of the agreement and explain if offsetting has been used how the offsetting figure has been reached. If a joint Statement of Information is being produced then there should be consultation with the other party to agree on the form of wording here. Alternatively, one party can insert a sentence or two and the other party can insert another sentence or two. It would however be preferable to have a few agreed sentences.
Box 14 is also new and you have to explain that if there is to be a clean break, how each party will support themselves.
No doubt, all the above boxes are intended to make the task of the Judge approving the draft order easier and limit the number of questions being raised by the Judge before approving the consent order. Not only will this be better for the Judges but will also lead to more consent orders being approved more quickly, which is also of benefit to the clients.
With the statements of truth, it is clear that either the client or the solicitor can sign. I think it is always best if the client signs the statement of truth as this avoids any potential dispute in the future between the client and his or her solicitor as to the accuracy or otherwise of the statement of truth.
With the advent of remote working and the use of scanners and Adobe PDF, a client signing the document should not be a problem.
Finally, it does say at the beginning of the Statement of information for a Consent Order that either a joint Statement of Information can be submitted or the parties can submit one each. To reduce questions from the Judge and in the interests of collaboration, I believe it would always be hugely preferable to submit one joint Statement of Information.
As with all new forms, there have been some teething issues, e.g. in the beginning the totals were not automatically being added up. I understand that thankfully now this problem has been resolved.
At the risk of repetition, it is hoped that these new Statements of Information for a Consent Order will lead to consent orders being approved more quickly by the Judges.
T: 029 2034 2233
Author: Melanie Hamer, Director