Topic: Family Law in Victorian England

Presenter: Henry Kha - PhD Candidate, TC Beirne School of Law

Divorce in civil jurisprudence is a relatively modern doctrine of private law that has only existed in the English law since the introduction of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857. The thesis aims to fill the lacuna of scholarship surrounding the internal legal history of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857, particularly the legislative process of the enactment and the grounds for and bars to divorce under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857. Furthermore, the thesis will attempt to trace the judicial development of the divorce courts in the late nineteenth century and help remedy the paucity of research in this area. This includes the examination of the judicial history of the Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, and the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice. The thesis will argue that family law, unlike any other area of private law, is disproportionately influenced by the prevailing culture, religious values and social mores of society. Specifically, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 was a product of its time perpetuating double standards in the black letter law, as well as in the creation and development of the nascent family law justice system.

All welcome, no RSVP required.

Contact: Claire Lam, ph: (336) 57903, email:

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