Cohabitants, Property and the Law: A Study of Injustice

24 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2009

See all articles by Gillian Douglas

Gillian Douglas

The Dickson Poon School of Law

Julia Pearce

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Hilary Woodward

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

With cohabitation outside marriage becoming increasingly common, the law's response to the problems that arise on separation has become a key issue for public and family policy. This article draws upon the findings of a qualitative empirical study of how property disputes are handled when cohabitants separate. It argues that the unfairness of the current law is best understood as stemming from a failure to recognise the situation that arises as one of unjust enrichment. It shows that the complexity and unpredictability of the law make it difficult to bargain effectively in the shadow of the law. It suggests that the need for reform goes beyond the introduction of a discretionary regime, such as that proposed by the Law Commission, to reform of conveyancing and property law and practice to facilitate initial, as well as post-separation private ordering.

Suggested Citation

Douglas, Gillian and Pearce, Julia and Woodward, Hilary, Cohabitants, Property and the Law: A Study of Injustice. Modern Law Review, Vol. 72, Issue 1, pp. 24-47, January 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1321576 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.2009.00732.x

Gillian Douglas (Contact Author)

The Dickson Poon School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
Strand Campus
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom
+44 (0)2078481367 (Phone)

Julia Pearce

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Hilary Woodward

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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