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Solicitor worked to change 'proof of death' law
Who? Kirsten Bennett, 30, family law solicitor at Cheshire firm Slater Heelis.
Why is she in the news? Worked with a client whose husband disappeared nearly nine years ago to change the law so that the client - and other families in the same situation - can obtain access to joint assets without proof of death.
While handling the case, Bennett also worked with charity Missing People and contributed to a Commons Justice Select Committee report, published on 22 February, calling for new legislation to make it easier for families to resolve the affairs of missing people.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This case highlighted the huge difficulties faced by families when someone disappears. They have to go through a confusing, costly and emotionally draining legal process to resolve the affairs of a loved one. In some cases, they can even get contradictory rulings - someone held to have died so that the marriage can be dissolved, while remaining technically alive in the eyes of mortgage lenders and others.’
Dealing with the media: ‘The case generated huge interest, which must have contributed to the positive response of the Justice Select Committee, which has called for changes.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I was inspired by Martin Luther King’s words: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”’
Career high: ‘This case and the impact it has allowed me to have on changing legislation.’
Career low: ‘Realising early in my career that being a lawyer is not a 9-5 job.’