We know that a relatively small proportion (only around one-third) of divorcing couples goes to court to get any kind of order dealing with their financial arrangements, and of those, most will arrive with an agreed settlement that they want turned into a binding ‘consent order’ rather than have the judge decide for them. Even consent orders are subject to scrutiny by the court to ensure that their terms are fair and not contrary to public policy, but while this scrutiny should be more than a rubber stamp, the court is not ‘some kind of forensic ferret’, as Waite LJ put it in Pounds v Pounds ( 1 FLR 775), burrowing into the minutiae of what the parties have agreed and querying every detail. Of course, where the couple haven’t reached a settlement and the judge has to decide the outcome of their case, he or she will have to look in depth at the parties’ circumstances and reach a decision based on the law set out in the relevant legislation and case law. (more…)
by Professor Albert Sanchez-Graells, University of Bristol Law School.
Approximately a third of public sector spending goes to procure third-party goods, services, and works. Procurement rules and policies seek to ensure that contract awards are free from corruption, conflicts of interest or anticompetitive practices, and that these vast sums of public funds generate value for money and support social, environmental, and innovative practices. There is always room for improvement, though. The adoption of digital technologies is seen as a strategic catalyst for procurement reform, to increase the effectiveness of procurement regulation. Digitalisation could reduce the administrative burden through automation, generate data insights to inform policies and boost efficiency in public spending, and serve as a living lab for GovTech experimentation.
However, the transformative potential presumed in digital technologies generates hype and excessive expectations on the true size and nature of the achievable improvements. It also tends to overshadow the required groundwork and preparatory investment. New digital governance risks and requirements are not always recognised or understood. The growing public sector digital capability gap raises further obstacles. Heightened expectations and a minimisation of the challenges can get on the way of successful reform. In ongoing research funded by the British Academy, I apply an innovative technology-centred methodology to assess the governance opportunities and challenges for procurement digitalisation. This blog post provides a summary of the main findings so far. I will also be discussing them with a stellar panel on 15 December 2022 (details and registration). (more…)