Family Law

As family law clients are often preoccupied and in emotional distress, they require particular care.

LPLC sees claims in the family law area every year. While the percentage cost of family law claims each year is not high (typically 5 per cent of LPLC’s total claims cost), it is an area where simple risk management steps can make a difference.

The scope of the retainer needs to be carefully defined and documented. Documenting advice and instructions and keeping the client informed about the progress of the matter and the costs also deserve special attention. Financial agreements are an ongoing problem when it comes to claims; it is certainly not an area in which to dabble!


12 December 2017

In Check Issue 77 | December 2017

Thorne v Kennedy on financial agreements The recent High Court case of Thorne v Kennedy [2017] HCA 49 further illustrates why family law financial agreements are fraught with risk. In that case, Kiefel CJ, Bell, Gageler, Keane and Edelman JJ held two substantially identical financial agreements voidable due to undue influence and unconscionable conduct. Nettle […]

1 June 2017

Stay on the estate

Practitioners handling estate matters should not get involved in family disputes. As disputes between family members arise frequently in estate matters, practitioners need to be alert to their duties to executors and beneficiaries as well as potential conflicts of interest. LPLC has received claims where practitioners handling an estate were not proactive in distancing themselves […]

31 March 2016

In Check Issue 70 | March 2016

Table of contentsCyber-crime – how alert are you?Common GST questionImportance of good working relationships within the professionReminder for RedCrest2016 Risk Management SeminarsCheck your contracts for deemed serviceNew look websiteLaw Institute Journal articles Cyber-crime – how alert are you? Lawyers and the legal profession are increasingly becoming targets of cyber-crime and while many law firms may not […]

1 December 2015

In Check Issue 69 | December 2015

Table of contentsCount your days to the end of the year carefullyCommon GST queries about the farming business exemptionUpdated purchaser statementChanges to foreign investment framework2016 Risk Management SeminarsNew training video – The New NormalOffice closure over Christmas and New YearLaw Institute Journal articles Count your days to the end of the year carefully As the […]

1 November 2015

Wills and super claims

Specialist knowledge is needed to advise on superannuation when preparing wills. Claims relating to superannuation arise when making a will as well as when dealing with the administration of the estate. Advising on superannuation issues requires a high level of legal knowledge and experience due to the complicated laws governing superannuation. The LPLC is drafting […]

27 October 2017

Managing risks in the wills and estates area

LPLC has published Wills and estates, the latest in our series of snapshots which are designed to provide data about claims against practitioners in specific practice areas as well as risk management strategies at a glance. This snapshot shows that between 2007 and 2017, claims in the wills and estates area accounted for eight per […]

20 October 2017

Time to retire retirement village claims

Since 2013/14 LPLC has seen 18 claims involving aged care facilities and retirement villages. The current estimate of the cost of these claims is in excess of $4million. Claims arise in the three main areas of: buying and selling retirement villages or aged care facilities advising on retirement village contracts for residents drafting wills. With […]

25 August 2017

Stay within your limits when using counsel

It is high risk for practitioners to act outside their area of expertise, even when assisted by counsel who is an expert in the relevant area. In one claim, a practitioner acted for a client in a property dispute with the client’s ex-girlfriend despite the practitioner’s lack of expertise in family law matters. The client […]

4 March 2016

Ex-spouses might miss out – family provision in other states

The recent decision of Alagiah v Crouch as administrator of the estate of Ratnam Alagiah (deceased) [2015] QSC 281 is a timely reminder that in some jurisdictions ex-spouses can miss out altogether if family law property proceedings are not issued before death. In this case the former spouses’ solicitors were negotiating a property settlement, which […]

26 February 2016

Family law clients and wills

This is a reminder for practitioners acting in family law matters to include in their checklist and material they give to their clients an explanation about the effect of divorce and remarriage on the validity of a will. Feedback we have received from the profession is that many clients say they are not told at […]

17 July 2014

Key Risk Checklist: Family provision claims

Acting for claimants – out of time TFM ☐  Be familiar with the provisions of Part IV of the Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Vic) (Act). ☐  When taking initial instructions from a potential Part IV claimant ensure you clearly discuss with the client: the eligibility requirements for a family provision claim at section 90 […]

14 July 2014

Key Risk Checklist: Testamentary capacity

Testamentary capacity ☐  Take comprehensive instructions from the will maker in person, on their own. ☐  Be ever mindful of the issue of capacity and satisfy yourself that the will maker meets the various elements of the test, that is, the will maker must[1]: Be aware of and appreciate the significance of the act which […]

15 August 2017

Focusing on family law

Table of contentsIntroductionThe causes of claimsFinancial agreementsChild supportProblem areasLPLC Family Law ChecklistAppendix One – SuperannuationAppendix Two – List of cases Introduction As family law clients are often preoccupied and in emotional distress, they require particular care. It is an area where simple risk management steps can make a difference. The scope of the retainer needs […]

11 May 2017

Know your limits

Table of contentsIntroductionLessons from the claimsTime limits most commonly missedClaims examples Introduction With the proliferation of time limits in legislation today missing limitation dates is a mistake that occurs in many areas of the law. The reasons for missing time limits are varied as are the potential repercussions. Sometimes it is a lack of knowledge […]

17 July 2014

Weather-proofing wills and estates

Table of contentsIntroductionMistakes in preparation of willsTestamentary capacityFamily provision claimsAdministration mistakesConflicts of interestChecklistsFamily provision claims Introduction Welcome to the first edition of Weather-proofing wills and estates. This booklet highlights the mistakes that are made by legal practitioners that lead to claims against them and offers recommendations on how to avoid those same mistakes. The claims […]

24 March 2015

Risk video bite | Risks of intra-family transfers

Presenter: Miranda Milne, Chief Executive Officer, LPLC