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UK Couple Accidentally Divorced After Law Firm’s Clerical Error: Report

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Wrong Couple In UK Divorced After Law Firm's Error: Report

The couple’s divorce was prematurely finalised due to a clerical error (Representational)

An unfortunate mix-up at a London law firm has resulted in an accidental divorce of an estranged couple. Identified in court as Mr and Mrs Williams, the couple was married for 21 years and was in the midst of negotiating their separation.

However, their divorce was prematurely finalised due to a clerical error, reported the Telegraph

The incident occurred when lawyers at Vardags, the firm representing the wife, mistakenly filed a final divorce order for the Williamses while handling paperwork for another client.  Vardags, founded by Ayesha Vardag, has represented numerous high-profile clients, according to reports.

The divorce application was approved within 21 minutes, and the error was only discovered several days later. The judge overseeing the case said the mistake was irreversible, leaving the couple divorced. 

Mrs Williams tried to undo the accidental divorce, but her efforts were swiftly rejected by Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the family court division. He believed in respecting the “certainty and finality that flows from a divorce order and maintaining the status quo that it has established.”

Ayesha Vardag, nicknamed the “diva of divorce”, said of the ruling, “This is a bad decision. The state should not be divorcing people on the basis of a clerical error.  There has to be intention on the part of the person divorcing because the principle of intention underpins the justice of our legal system. When a mistake is brought to a court’s attention and everyone accepts that a mistake has been made, it obviously has to be undone.”

“We’ve heard from the court staff that this happens a fair bit with the new online system, and it should just have been fixed as usual. But here the husband inexplicably took issue and the judge decided effectively ‘the computer says no, you’re divorced’,” she said.

“It’s the kind of decision that I believe would be overturned in a higher court, but where the upshot is in reality that a wife who wanted a divorce has got one, why would that be worth doing in this case? That means that, for now, our law says that you can be divorced by an error made on an online system. And that’s just not right, not sensible, not justice.”

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