Monday, October 24, 2016

News Essentials: 24th October 2016

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

Boy 'living life entirely as a girl' removed from mother's care by judge
Mother who was convinced her son perceived himself as a girl caused 7-year-old boy ‘significant emotional harm’. Full story: The Guardian. See Re J, below.

President clarifies status of draft guidance on anonymising judgments
Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, has issued a statement on the judicial website clarifying the status of draft guidance on anonymising judgments published in August 2016 by the Association of Lawyers for Children and Dr Julia Brophy. Full story: Family Law.

McKenzie friend jailed for ‘deceit in family court’
A paid McKenzie friend has been jailed for perverting the course of justice in a family court. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Thum v Thum [2016] EWHC 2634 (Fam) (21 October 2016)
Application by husband to dismiss or stay the wife's petition due to delay in service, where the husband subsequently issued a petition in Germany. Application dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

J (A Minor), Re [2016] EWHC 2430 (Fam) (21 October 2016)
Final hearing of care proceedings concerning a 7 year old boy, who the mother was convinced perceived himself as a girl. Full report: Bailii.

London Borough of Redbridge v A, B and E (Failure to Comply with Directions) [2016] EWHC 2627 (Fam) (17 October 2016)
Application by local authority to adjourn final hearing of care proceedings, due to its own failure to comply with the court's directions. Full report: Bailii.

Thakkar v Thakkar [2016] EWHC 2488 (Fam) (08 June 2016)
Application by respondent husband to make decree nisi absolute, notwithstanding that wife's financial remedies application had not been determined. Application dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

R (Final), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 1016 (20 October 2016)
Appeal by father against dismissal of application for an order that the mother should return to the family home in Kent with the child, who she took to stay with her family in the North East. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

M & L (Children), Re [2016] EWHC 2535 (Fam) (14 October 2016)
Proceedings concerning two children, one residing with the father in England and the other with the mother in Norway. Judgment concerning submission of a request to the court of Norway to assume jurisdiction under 1996 Hague Convention. Full report: Bailii.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Review: Court of Protection Made Clear

Court of Protection Made Clear

A User's Guide

Authors: Claire Wills-Goldingham QC, barrister,  Colleton Chambers; Marie Leslie, barrister, Colleton Chambers; Dr Paul Divall

£24.95 - Published by Bath Publishing: August 2016

When I was asked whether I would be interested in reviewing a book on Court of Protection proceedings my first thought was that I was not qualified. I may have read quite a few Court of Protection judgments, and written about a number of them, but I never did any Court of Protection work when I was practising. However, when I saw that Court of Protection Made Clear has been deliberately written (in plain English) to be accessible to non-lawyers (as well as lawyers), I felt that perhaps I was perfectly qualified after all.

When I received the book I was surprised by how substantial it is. For the extremely modest price I was expecting a brief introductory guide, perhaps with pointers as to where more detailed information can be found. This is not a brief introductory guide. It comprises 372 pages, with no fewer than twenty-one chapters, covering in considerable detail everything from making an application to the Court of Protection, to powers of attorney, deprivation of liberty (including a handy flowchart) and statutory wills. To top that off, there is a substantial glossary, a number of precedents and other appendices, including a table of possible applications to the Court, with basic information as to how each application is issued.

The downside, I suppose, of the book being so substantial is that unless it is the reader's intention to make a detailed study of the Court of Protection with a view to becoming an expert upon the subject, then the book is not really one that invites reading from cover to cover. For anyone who is not intending to 'become an expert' that exercise may result in more confusion than insight, as it is all to easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that the book contains.

Instead, I would suggest that for most people the book is best regarded as an introduction to specific topics, and otherwise as a reference. Thus, if the reader requires information on a certain matter, they can limit themselves to reading just the chapter or chapters relevant to that matter. The detail contained by the book on each topic should be sufficient for the purposes of most readers (the authors really seem to have given a lot of consideration to what should be included), although the book does still give pointers as to where more detailed information may be found, in particular the various statutes, rules and Codes of Practice.

Apart from the range of topics, one of the reasons why the book is so substantial, and one of the reasons why I say that the information it contains should be sufficient for the purposes of most readers, is that it covers both the theory and the practice. Thus, for example, you will not just find the legal background to making an application to the Court, but also details of the procedure involved (right up to, and even beyond, the hearing, including such details as how to address the judge) and practical help upon the completion of the myriad forms that are or may be required.

As I said, if you do want more information, then the book contains pointers to where it may be found. The help, though, does not stop there. The book is accompanied by a website,, which includes links to that other information, relevant forms and commentaries on recent cases.

I am not aware of any other book like this, and thus if you have an interest in the work of the Court of Protection, whether as a practitioner (even if you are already one of those 'experts'), someone who works with vulnerable people, or simply as a family member of someone involved in Court of Protection proceedings, then I would say that Court of Protection Made Clear is an essential purchase. The amount of information it contains, all presented in a clear, jargon-free manner, and all at a price that anyone should be able to afford, will surely help you demystify the arcane world of the Court of Protection. Certainly, I now feel I have a greater knowledge and understanding of the subject (even if my brain has only retained a fraction of the book's contents), along with a very useful first point of reference.

Court of Protection Made Clear can be purchased from Bath Publishing, here. It is available in print or digital format or, for an additional £10, both.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

New by me on the Marilyn Stowe Blog

My posts this week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog were largely about heroes and villains. Specifically, the heroes are those unsung people who work day, and sometimes night, to keep our family justice system going. The villains, on the other hand, are those who deny justice to millions by taking away legal aid, and those who seek to take advantage of the misery that that has caused.

Suspending a Hague Convention return order - The case BK v NK (Suspension of Return Order).

An example of the problems caused by lack of legal aid - The case Roocroft v Ball.

The minefield of unregulated legal assistance - As demonstrated by the recent case in which a paid McKenzie friend was jailed for perverting the course of justice in a family court.

To the unsung heroes and heroines of the family justice system - Praise where praise is due.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Exploding Phones and Explosive Claims: Your Rights When Products Fail

Many products promise to make our lives easier, but all too often they do exactly the opposite. Here’s what you need to know about defective products and how to claim compensation in the event of something terrible happening

Britain is still in the European Union and, while it untangles itself from the bloc over the next two years, we remain guided and ruled by its many laws and regulations, including for the countless consumer products we import and produce at home. Naturally, the rules are strict. They're designed to protect the consumer by doing what they say they will: to be durable and safe to use.

But as we know, consumer products can often be anything but durable and safe, and real injuries can be caused by using them. It’s one of the main reasons for No Win, No Fee accident claims. Right now, a popular make of smartphone is causing all manner of consternation – and injury – by spectacularly bursting into flames. In the US alone, Samsung has recalled around 1.9 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones due to a faulty battery, and has even called a halt to production.

So dire is the problem — and the potential for catastrophe — that airlines around the world have banned them. Some are even resorting to using fire-resistant bags to contain the devices, should they erupt into mini infernos while up in the air. Not surprisingly, owners are now looking for the best No Win, No Fee solicitors they can find to handle compensation claims.

Everyday Product Liability and Making Personal Injury Claims

It's not all about high-tech gone wrong, though. Even ordinary appliances in the home can cause major problems. Washing machines and dryers can also go haywire, triggering blazes that can destroy homes and lives. Food, drinks, hair dyes – so much of what we ingest or use on our bodies has the potential to cause problems, even poison us.

Families with small children are always on the lookout for the dangers of the many small toys they play with. It’s not only the very real risk of swallowing a toy and choking on it, but also the tiny parts, such as button batteries, that can pose real problems — and there are new concerns emerging all the time.

One of the latest is what you may well put in your cup of tea or coffee: sugar. We're increasingly being told this once-essential sweetener may actually be toxic to the body and cause a number of conditions and diseases. In much the same way as the tobacco industry was targeted with mass compensation claims for damaging people’s health and killing them, now sugar manufacturers may be dragged into court.

Among the many other potential hazards in and around the home are balconies, garden tools, all kinds of chemicals (cleaning, painting, stripping products) and a whole lot more. It’s a wonder the majority of us manage to stay safe and well at all.

No Win No Fee Accident Claims for Product Liability

So what does the law say about product liability and your ability to make No Win, No Fee accident claims when things go badly wrong? First of all, as with any type of personal injury claim, whatever happened – damage, destruction, or injury to you or your loved ones – cannot have been caused by you. It must be entirely the fault of the product itself.

You are protected by legal responsibilities not only on manufacturers to make sure their products are safe to use, but also wholesalers and the shops that sell the products. These three entities must ensure their products contain sufficient warnings about possible risks in using them, as well as providing ample information on how to avoid injury or damage. They're also legally bound to monitor their products so that they're always in compliance with evolving safety laws. If they're not, they have to bring them up to date as quickly as possible.

Almost all have product liability insurance, so if something does happen and someone is injured or damage is caused by using a product, there are funds available for compensation. Certainly for families that fall victim to defective products, it makes sense to reduce their financial burden by searching for No Win, No Fee solicitors instead of paying to get a claim started. Hopefully then, it will be a win-win all round.

Monday, October 17, 2016

News Essentials: 17th October 2016

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

Leading family lawyer calls for action on 'endemic' court delays
The government needs to take urgent action to secure the viability and sustainability of the family courts in response to the rising number of litigants and a sharp decline in funding, a leading family lawyer has said. Full story: Solicitors Journal.

Civil partner wins appeal against estate of former partner who hid assets
Court confirms that Sharland and Gohil apply to civil partnership dissolutions. Full story: Family Law Week. See Roocroft v Ball, below.

Cafcass private law demand
In September 2016, Cafcass received a total of 3,588 new private law cases. This is a 19% increase on September 2015 levels. Full story: Cafcass.

Care applications in September 2016
In September 2016, Cafcass received a total of 1,216 care applications.  This figure represents a 23% increase compared to those received in September 2015. Full story: Cafcass.

MIAMs information not completed on 40% of divorce applications
Figures revealed following FOI request by National Family Mediation. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Bankrupt cannot be forced to access pension pots to repay debts, Court of Appeal confirms
A bankrupt individual that has chosen not to access his pension savings cannot be forced to do so in order to repay debts, the Court of Appeal has confirmed. Full story: See Horton v Henry, below.

Roocroft v Ball [2016] EWCA Civ 1009 (14 October 2016)
Appeal against order dismissing application to set aside settlement on grounds of non-disclosure by deceased former civil partner. Appeal allowed. Full report: Family Law Week.

Re B-C (A Child) [2016] EWCA Civ 970 (28 July 2016)
Application for permission to appeal brought by a Local Authority following a determination to decline to list the Local Authority's application for an interim care order. Appeal allowed. Full report: Family Law Week.

M (Children) [2016] EWCA Civ 942 (9 August 2016)
Appeal against the decision of Russell J refusing the summary return of two children (JK aged five years eight months and DI aged four years ten months) to the United States of America. Appeal allowed. Full report: Family Law Week.

BK v NK (Suspension of Return Order) [2016] EWHC 2496 (Fam) (03 August 2016)

Application by father for summary return of child to Poland. Return order suspended to give mother time to make an application to Polish court for permission to remove the child from Poland. Full report: Bailii.

Horton v Henry (Rev 1) [2016] EWCA Civ 989 (07 October 2016)
Appeal by trustee in bankruptcy against dismissal of application for income payments order in respect of income which might become payable to the respondent from his personal pension policies.
Appeal dismissed. 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.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Family law-related advertising opportunity

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Between them the two sites receive about 40,000 pageviews per month, the visitors including family law professionals, people involved in a family law case, and just people with an interest in family law.

Your advert won't be lost either, amongst hundreds of other adverts, or somewhere at the bottom of the page. It will be one of just a few adverts, usually or always visible near the top of the page, without having to scroll down to see it. I can also arrange for the advert to appear on virtually every page of both sites, so that it doesn't get missed by a visitor only looking at one page.

I can accept most types of advert, from a simple text link to a picture advert or (if available) a banner advert at the top of the page. I can also accept sponsored guest posts on Family Lore, preferably on a topic relevant to family law.

In addition, advertising is available in my weekly email newsletter. The newsletter goes out to over 700 subscribers, mostly family law professionals.

My advertising rates are extremely reasonable. If you would like a quote, please email me at john[@], and I will provide you with one, based upon your requirements.

For details of my advertising policy, see here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Four out of five separating couples are ignoring law on divorce

Jane Robey
It will be 2022 before a flagship government divorce law introduced in 2014 becomes effective, a national family charity has found after it obtained data exposing the embarrassing failure of a policy aimed at promoting amicable dispute resolution.

Only one in five separating couples abide by a new law which makes the consideration of mediation compulsory.

National Family Mediation (NFM) says all is not lost, but that Ministers must listen to dispute resolution experts whose everyday work with separating couples means they’re perfectly placed to help government achieve its objectives.

April 2014 saw a law change making attendance at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) compulsory before a separating couple could apply for a court order in divorce proceedings. But data from a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice shows that according to latest figures over two years on, only a fifth of separating couples making court applications undertake a MIAM.

“The government’s aim was to introduce a less confrontational alternative to court, but the huge majority are ignoring the law,” says Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation.

“It’s a shocking government failure. Things are slowly improving but at this rate it will be 2022 before this  2014 policy is actually in place and being properly complied with.

“Ministers need to address this embarrassing failure by listening to mediation professionals who can advise on turning things around.

“This is about so much more than government failure. It’s about the future of tens of thousands of families who could be using mediation to shape a bright future beyond divorce or separation: one that that doesn’t involve years of conflict and court room battles.”

Fewer than 4,000 MIAMs were undertaken out of nearly 18,000 private law applications in the first quarter of 2016, the latest figures available. The 22 per cent take-up rate represents an improvement on past figures (it was 7 per cent in 2015).

“Mediators welcomed the law change requiring couples to explore alternatives to the combat of court proceedings. We knew it could not transform the culture of divorce on its own, but these figures suggest the government is on the slow road,” adds Jane Robey.

“Mediators can help accelerate the process, and a few simple steps could help Ministers address their current red faces. For example, they could be doing much more to ensure family judges embrace mediation as a way forward when warring couples come before them in the courts. Judges already have considerable powers to direct people to alternative means of settling disputes.

“More government support is needed to inform, educate and publicise the fact that MIAMs are compulsory in order to ensure the law is properly enforced and that more mediation is provided.”

The ‘traditional’ route for divorce sees a solicitor’s office and the court room as the first stop for separating couples looking to make arrangements over property, finance and children. Mediation enables and empowers families to take control over their own destiny, rather than handing it over to a family court judge.

The data from the full response can be seen here.

Monday, October 10, 2016

News Essentials: 10th October 2016

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

Advocate told off for late service on litigant in person
Late service of documents further weakens the position of LiPs, says Jackson J. Full story: Solicitors Journal. See Re B, below.

New and amended family forms from 3 October 2016
Three new and five amended forms should be used from 3 October 2016. Full story: Family Law Hub.

The Transparency Project today launches its Family Court Reporting Watch project
Family Court Reporting Watch is a new venture set up by the Transparency Project, made possible by funding from the Legal Education Foundation. Full story: Family Law.

X, Y And Z (Children) (Retrospective Leave To Remove From the Jurisdiction) [2016] EWHC 2439 (Fam) (31 August 2016)
Application by mother for permission to retain children in Spain, where they have lived since about March 2013. Full report: Bailii.

K (Child) [2016] EWCA Civ 931 (05 October 2016)
Appeal against an order permitting the mother of a 10 year old girl to take her to live permanently in the Republic of Ireland. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

B (Litigants In Person: Timely Service of Documents), Re [2016] EWHC 2365 (Fam) (30 September 2016)
Judgment dealing with issue of late service of documents upon non-English-speaking litigant in person. Full report: Bailii.

Alcott (No. 2) [2016] EWHC 2414 (Fam) (29 September 2016)
Further judgment in application by father for summary return of child to Australia, dealing with issue of reporting. Full report: Bailii.

Alcott (No. 1) [2016] EWHC 2413 (Fam) (27 September 2016)
Application by father for summary return of child to Australia. 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.

Friday, October 07, 2016