Property and finances when non-formalized relationships end

1. Do you consider the law of property and trusts that applies to resolve disputes that arise between cohabitants and parties to other non-formalized relationships on separation to be clear and predictable?

2. Should that law afford more recognition to contributions that cannot be classed as financial contributions to the acquisition of the property at issue?  If so, how?

3. Would Mrs Burns’ case reach the same outcome today?

4. Is it reasonable simply to say: either formalize your relationship (in marriage or civil partnership) or formalize your agreement about property (in a declaration of trust or contract) – don’t expect the law to pick up the pieces for you if you don’t?

5. If there were to be statutory reform introducing financial remedies between cohabitants on separation, should those remedies:

-operate in the same way as those applying between spouses, or differently?

-if they should be different, how so?

o   Should any sharing principle apply?

o   Should a needs principle apply?

o   Should the focus be compensatory?

6. Should any remedies available between cohabitants be available only on an “opt-in” basis (for those who register their relationship with the state) or by default? 

7. If by default, should there be an “opt-out” by way of party agreement?  And what if any powers should the courts have – beyond those available under the general law of contract – to disapply those agreements?