Hmmmm - yes, you would think so. I believe there was a study back in the 1980's which tried to establish a pattern of awards, but its conclusions would be of little use now as the law has moved on.
I believe it is true that there is a database of awards for personal injury to which judges refer. Of course, there are obvious limitations in this, for example, loss of a finger is one thing to Mr Average and to a concert pianist it's another. But even so it helps to ensure consistency of decisions.
Baroness Hale, in the McFarlane case, praised the ' flexibility ' of English divorce laws which gave the Courts the freedom to do what it sees as justice in all cases, but acknowledged it could not be completely flexible and that similar cases should have a similar outcome. I think everyone would agree with that, but without knowing what judges are doing it is hard to see how consistency is to be achieved, unless you force the Courts into a straitjacket of rigid rules, rather like the child support formula ; which, for all its imperfections, is at least simple, everyone understands it and it generates hardly any litigation.
Personally, I less enthusiastic about flexibility than Baroness Hale. The other side of ' flexibility ' is uncertainty, which produces a number of disadvantages.
For a start, it begets litigation. Secondly, it makes it difficult even for professionals to advice clients of their likely position except in general and qualified terms. I think we may have to accept the idea that some flexibility may have to be sacrificed in a small majority of cases in order to achieve greater certainty for the majority.
But yes, I take your point, how do you get consistency when a judge has no means of knowing what others are doing ?
Do solicitors /ancillary relief barristers/District Judges/HM Courts keep a database of ancillary relief settlements?
How many divorce cases will a small town solicitor see in a year and how many will be comparable? ie how can they build a database extensive enough to give precedents/guide clients?
I've also heard that some areas are known for never awarding nominal maintenance /index linking maintenance etc
How would a solicitor know that- ie know a certain type of settlement would be well nigh impossible in their area/before a certain Judge?
Do they hold meetings to agree these things?
Are Ancillary Relief settlements all guided by secret rules/hidden protocols?
I think there are no rules about how a divorce settlement is worked out - just a load of different ways that looked fair in the circumstances of certain cases that went to appeal.After McFarlane I talked to my solicitor about my right to compensation for the career I gave up so my husband's could take precedence - from Parlour I talked about future earnings - my ex was at the top of his earning power when he left - there was a very large surplus of income over needs in my case but I still got the "unreconstructed" one third of income.
At District Judge level we're still at the rule of thumb/rustic handspan stage/ - a yardstick would be revolutionary.
There are surveys about certain issues, but most sols I believe rely on their training and experience to guide clients. I don't think there are any hidden rules/protocols. Judges have discretion in applying the principals and solicitors experienced at working in certain courts become familiar with how they work. In Scotland the law aims to offer certainty however I don't think that is necessarily any fairer.
There is a section 'Court Outcomes' which Wikivorce introduced at my request so people could report back. Maybe a different heading might be useful. In my experience of divorce forums though, posters often look for information although not many report the final outcome.