Journal Article

<i>Fitzpatrick</i> v <i>Sterling Housing Association Ltd</i> - an endorsement of the functional family?

L Glennon

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 14, issue 3, pages 226-255
Published in print December 2000 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online December 2000 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI:
Fitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association Ltd - an endorsement of the functional family?

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  • Marriage and the Family


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The majority of the House of Lords in Fitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association recently held that for the purposes of the Rent Act 1977 the definition of 'family' included a same-sex partner of a deceased tenant. The Court recognized that a same-sex relationship can embody essential familial characteristics signifying that evolving social conditions enlarged the number of people who qualified as belonging to the same family under the legislation. In this respect, the case provides an interesting contrast with the earlier majority decision of the Court of Appeal which rejected such a functional approach when defining the remit of family membership. The purpose of the present article is to review the progress of the case from the Court of Appeal to the House of Lords and to consider its significance for same-sex cohabitants, while refuting the allegation that the decision taken by the majority of the House of Lords was outside the correct judicial function of interpretation. The article further considers the position of the wider category of homesharer in the context of the legislation, an ancillary issue which arises in the light of the case. It is submitted, in this respect, that for the purpose of the Rent Act the court may, be implication, have been too restrictive when drawing the definitional boundary of family membership.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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