Monday, November 12, 2018

News Essentials: 12th November 2018


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
President’s Guidance: Addition to Compendium of Standard Family Orders
With the agreement of the President I promulgate three new orders, and an addition to an existing order, to be added with immediate effect to the Compendium of Standard Orders. Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

Law Society publishes no-deal Brexit guidance on family law
The Law Society has published guidance for solicitors highlighting the changes in civil and commercial co-operation that will occur in the event the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 without a Withdrawal Agreement and transitional arrangements in place, and the steps solicitors should consider in order to prepare their practice for this scenario. Full story: Family Law.

Social services under fire after boy placed into foster care before grandparents knew he was born
Judge says grandparents could have been considered as carers if they were told of boy's existence. Full story: The Independent. See Z v Kent County Council, below.

Pension Advisory Group: Update
The Pension Advisory Group was convened in mid-2017 with the purpose of producing a good practice guide for lawyers and financial experts about the issues relating to pensions on divorce. Full story: Family Law.

CASES
S (Care proceedings: Article 15 second transfer) [2018] EWHC 3054 (Fam) (29 October 2018)
Care proceedings. Application by mother for transfer of proceedings to the Republic of Ireland. Application refused. Full report: Bailii.

NN v AS & Ors [2018] EWHC 2973 (Fam) (06 November 2018)
Claim by wife following Egyptian divorce, including determining interests of wider family members in various properties. Full report: Bailii.

HC (A Minor : Deprivation of Liberty) [2018] EWHC 2961 (Fam) (05 November 2018)
Application by LA for court to determine whether 13 year-old's placement constitutes a deprivation of his liberty and, if so, for authorisation. Full report: Bailii.

Z v Kent County Council (Revocation of placement order - Failure to assess Mother's capacity and Grandparents) [2018] EWFC B65 (18 October 2018)
Care proceedings. Placement order revoked and special guardianship orders made in favour of current carers. Full report: Bailii.

D (A child : parental alienation) [2018] EWFC B64 (19 October 2018)
Proceedings regarding arrangements for 13 year old child. Fact-finding hearing considering allegations that the father had abused the child, and that that the mother had systematically alienated the child from the father. Full report: Bailii.

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Monday, November 05, 2018

News Essentials: 5th November 2018


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Financial Remedies Pilot extended to eight more court centres
President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has announced that he has given the 'green light' for the pilot to start working in each of these eight courts. Full story: Family Law Week.

Ministry of Justice commits to care leaver covenant
The Secretary of State for Justice has pledged the Ministry of Justice to support the principles of the care leaver covenant, and to provide specified support to help care leavers in their transition from care to independence in order to improve their life chances. Full story: Family Law Week.

Number of children in need rises by 4 per cent since last year
Number of child protection plans rises by 5 per cent. Full story: Family Law Week.

New courts and tribunals media guidance released for staff
HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has released guidance for its staff to help encourage and facilitate media access to the UK’s family and other courts and tribunals. Full story: Family Law.

Home Affairs Committee urges Government to widen forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill
Report recommends end to single Universal Credit payments. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
Hart v Hart [2018] EWHC 2894 (Fam) (25 October 2018)
Judgment dealing with issue of whether there had been a contempt in relation to the implementation of a financial remedies order. Full report: Bailii.

CD (A Child : Re Hearing of Fact-Finding) [2018] EWHC 2670 (Fam) (28 September 2018)
Care proceedings. Re-hearing of fact-finding to determine cause of injuries to child. Full report: Bailii.

D, (A Child), Re [2018] EWHC 2828 (Fam) (05 October 2018)
Judgment concerning accommodation of child exhibiting extreme behaviour, possibly as a consequence of what she witnessed whilst living in Iraq. Full report: Bailii.

Lomax & Ors v Greenslade [2018] EWHC 2623 (Ch) (23 July 2018)
Appeal against award in Inheritance Act proceedings arising in circumstances where a father had not made provision for his 3 children in the will. At first instance the judge had made an award to the claimant children leaving the defendant with 69k out of 699k. Her appeal was rejected though the awards to the children reduced slightly as a result of fresh evidence about the value of the estate and other costs incurred. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Monday, October 29, 2018

News Essentials: 29th October 2018


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Civil Partnerships Bill reaches report stage
New clause requires government to bring equality between same-sex and other couples. Full story: Family Law Week.

New courts and tribunals media guidance released for staff
HM Courts & Tribunals Service has released guidance for its staff to help encourage and facilitate media access to the UK’s family and other courts and tribunals. Full story: Family Law.

Home Affairs Committee urges Government to widen forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill
Report recommends end to single Universal Credit payments. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
D, (A Child), Re [2018] EWHC 2828 (Fam) (05 October 2018)
Judgment concerning accommodation of child exhibiting extreme behaviour, possibly as a consequence of what she witnessed whilst living in Iraq. Full report: Bailii.

Lomax & Ors v Greenslade [2018] EWHC 2623 (Ch) (23 July 2018)
Appeal against award in Inheritance Act proceedings arising in circumstances where a father had not made provision for his 3 children in the will. At first instance the judge had made an award to the claimant children leaving the defendant with 69k out of 699k. Her appeal was rejected though the awards to the children reduced slightly as a result of fresh evidence about the value of the estate and other costs incurred. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Monday, October 22, 2018

News Essentials: 22nd October 2018


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Woman with learning difficulties not told she had contraceptive device covertly fitted
A young woman with learning difficulties should not be told she was covertly fitted with a contraceptive device as it would ruin her trust in her carers, a court has ruled. Full story: The Telegraph. See report, below.

Research launched to assess whether biased advice is distorting access to justice
A new research project will examine whether vulnerable people representing themselves in child court cases find themselves and their children put at risk by misinformed or biased online legal advice. Full story: Family Law.

“Vulnerable children will be victims” of Government’s failure to provide clarity - Lords warn Government over family justice system after Brexit
A “worrying level of complacency”, lack of clarity, and inadequate advice will have a devastating knock-on effect on the UK family law courts, and ultimately children – warns the House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee. Full story: House of Lords.

Munby troubled by Court of Protection cases being 'transferred up'
Desperate parents are persuading less senior judges to transfer Court of Protection cases higher to force public authorities to act - a practice that the former president of the family division finds 'deeply troubling'. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Senior Family Liaison Judge appointed
Mrs Justice Theis has been appointed as the Senior Family Liaison Judge with immediate effect for a 4 year period. Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

CASES
C (An Infant), Re [2018] EWHC 2750 (Fam) (17 October 2018)
Judgment concerning withdrawal of medical treatment for two month old child with brain abnormality. Full report: Bailii.

H (Children) [2018] EWFC 61 (18 October 2018)
Care proceedings concerning two children, which took 116 weeks to resolve. Judgment considering what could be done to avoid delay, particularly caused by concurrent criminal proceedings. Full report: Bailii.

Y (Autism -Care Proceedings- Deprivation of Liberty), Re [2018] EWHC B63 (23 April 2018)
Application for care order in respect of an autistic young person, and for an order declaring that it is lawful for the local authority to deprive him of his liberty. Full report: Bailii.

P (Sexual Relations and Contraception) v.2 [2018] EWCOP 10 (18 April 2018)
Judgment in long-running proceedings involving a vulnerable young woman, addressing issues concerning her sexual relationships and the covert insertion of a contraceptive device. Full report: Bailii.

RJ v CM [2018] EWHC 2509 (Fam) (24 July 2018)
Appeal by mother against refusal to adjourn fact-finding hearing in child arrangements proceedings. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

A (A Child) [2018] EWCA Civ 2240 (16 October 2018)
Appeal against SGO in favour of foster carer, rather than child's maternal family in Ghana. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

Jay v Secretary of State for Justice [2018] EWHC 2620 (Fam) (08 October 2018)
Appeal against refusal of application for a gender recognition certificate. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Research project to assess if biased online legal advice is distorting access to justice in family cases


A new research project will examine whether vulnerable people representing themselves in child court cases find themselves and their children put at risk by misinformed or biased online legal advice.

Academics at Birmingham City University and the University of Leeds have launched the new project which will explore the quality, and types of advice handed out through legal advisors, online help forums or social media boards.

Cuts to legal aid have seen a major rise in the number of those acting as their own representatives in court, with over 80 per cent of family court cases seeing a least one party representing themselves – a practice known as Litigants in Person (LIPs).

Without affordable face-to-face legal advice, many LIPs turn to online sources or McKenzie Friends – litigation friends who help LIPs represent themselves on a voluntary basis or for a fee.

The legal community has raised serious concerns about the quality of information and advice provided online by McKenzie Friends or online forum facilitators.

The study - the first analysis of its kind – will examine the quality and accuracy of free legal support made available online, to see if children’s welfare is being put at risk by incorrect or biased information designed to further a prejudiced agenda.

Most LIPs have no previous legal background, knowledge or expertise, leaving them reliant on scouring the internet for support or information to help build their cases.

The research will be carried out by English linguistics specialist Dr Tatiana Tkacukova, Senior Lecturer in English Language at Birmingham City University, and legal expert Hilary Sommerlad, Professor of Law and Justice at the University of Leeds.

Dr Tkacukova said: “People representing themselves in court often find themselves at an immediate disadvantage because the language of law, the documentation and the processes are all geared towards those who have previous working knowledge of it.

“For people without any background in law it is very difficult to know where to look for relevant information, which legal concepts are applicable to their case or how to present their side of the story in an appropriate way, so often they will look for help, support or information online.

“Unfortunately a lot of the information which is out there is either incorrect or has been designed to further a specific viewpoint of how justice should or should not work. This can not only lead to people unwittingly be used to further propaganda, but more worryingly can have a serious impact on the way justice is delivered and the lives of children.

“What we want to do with this project is find out what information LIPs are seeking online and what advice they are provided with so that we are able to help drive change and support people in searching for legal advice they need.”

The study will focus specifically on public and private child cases – including those related to child protection and children’s living arrangements – to see if the information and current processes are putting LIPs and their children at risk.

It will look at the key words and search terms most often used by LIPs to access online advice, and assess the quality of information found in the top Google hits.

Over 100,000 words will then be analysed based on questions asked by LIPs and the advice they are given.

The analysis will focus on:
  • Type of information and advice LIPs are seeking
  • Communication strategies LIPs are using to describe the issues in their case
  • Quality of information and advice LIPs are provided with
  • The legal knowledge shown by LIPs and online forum facilitators
  • The understanding of judicial processes and legal strategies shown by online forum facilitators
The project aims to produce clear guidance to help people avoid being given unreliable information and improve LIP’s awareness of the choices they have when seeking legal advice.

The research will be split between English linguistics specialist Dr Tatiana Tkacukova, Senior Lecturer in English Language at Birmingham City University, and legal expert Hilary Sommerlad, Professor of Law and Justice at the University of Leeds.

Dr Tkacukova, who has been researching the opportunities available to Litigants in Person for over five years, will use specially devised tools to find and analyse the language used online.

Hilary Sommerlad, Professor of Law and Justice at the University of Leeds, will examine the quality of the legal advice found.

Professor Sommerlad said: “Access to the law is vital if people are to realise their rights and defend claims brought against them. Yet the law is alien and intimidating to most lay people.

“With the removal of legal aid from most private law matters more and more people are obliged to navigate the law’s highly complex procedures and deal with its esoteric language unaided, and often at points in their lives when they are at their most vulnerable.

“As a result many turn to online sources including ‘McKenzie Friends’, that is those who offer representation themselves on a voluntary basis or for a fee.

“As an unregulated source of legal aid, the quality of information and advice provided is inevitably highly variable. This research into the online activities of McKenzie Friends will therefore be extremely valuable in assessing the dangers and benefits of this form of advice.”

It is hoped the project will spark a change in the quality of information and support available to LIPs online through more official channels.

The project will also produce new research evidence base which can support legal reforms currently underway at HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

The project has been funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grants scheme.

Monday, October 15, 2018

News Essentials: 15th October 2018


A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

NEWS
Cafcass publishes new assessment framework for private law cases
We have developed a new assessment framework to support our practitioners in assessing the harmful impact of a range of complex case factors on the children we work with in private law cases. Full story: Cafcass.

Judge condemns 'unacceptable' lack of secure accommodation for children
Judge Mary Lazarus had nowhere to send convicted 16-year-old involved in ‘county lines’ drug dealing. Full story: The Guardian. See O (A child : No Available Secure Accommodation), below.

Almost 17,000 newborn babies taken into care in England in past nine years
Many infants taken from their mothers in hospital within hours or days of delivery. Full story: The Guardian.

Family chief tells lawyers: 'The justice system won't collapse - you will'
The justice system may be 'under stress' but it will grind on - it is the people propping it up who will collapse, the president of the family division has warned. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Banker’s wife may lose UK property worth £22 million
High Court dismisses challenge to unexplained wealth order. Full story: Family Law Week.

CASES
MB v TB [2018] EWHC 2035 (Fam) (31 July 2018)
Judgment in jurisdiction dispute between wife who had issued divorce proceedings in England and husband who had issued in Germany. Held, the English court was seised of the wife's petition and that seisin had not been defeated by a failure by the wife to take steps she was required to have service effected, as alleged by the husband. Full report: Bailii.

PM v CF [2018] EWHC 2658 (Fam) (03 October 2018)
Judgment in case in which, inter alia, father's parental responsibility was terminated, in the light of the risk he posed to the mother, and the children's need for protection. Full report: Bailii.

O (A child : No Available Secure Accommodation) [2018] EWFC B60 (08 October 2018)
Application for secure accommodation order. No placements available. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.