Family Law Newswatch has selected its 'Top ten family law cases of 2008', comprising what it considers to be the "ten most significant family law cases reported this year".
Pre-nuptial agreements figure prominently, with Crossley v Crossley, NG v KR and the recent MacLeod v MacLeod all featuring. Whilst these cases are all very interesting, I'm not sure just how significant they are for the vast majority of those using the family justice system. Pre-nuptial agreements remain the preserve of the extremely wealthy, with very few people of 'ordinary means' entering into them. Further, attempts to have the judiciary make them enforceable are, surely, doomed to failure. As Baroness Hale made it very clear in MacLeod, this is a job for the legislature, not the judiciary.
At number three in the top ten comes McCartney v Mills. I can't argue with this. Not only was it far and away the most high-profile family law case of the year, it was also of significance to more 'normal' divorces, as I mentioned in this post.
Other top ten cases that I have mentioned here previously are the failed negligence claim Williams v Thompson Leatherdale and Francis and the procedural warning from Mr Justice Munby in Re X and Y (Bundles).
The other four cases in the top ten are a bit of a miscellany. They comprise the publicity/human rights case Murray v Express Newspapers, the immigration/human rights case EM (Lebanon) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, the child abduction case Re M (Abduction: Zimbabwe) and the care case Re M (Fact-Finding Hearing: Burden of Proof). Not having studied these cases, I'll make no comment about them.
Would I have included any other cases in my top ten? Well perhaps Behzadi v Behzadi would have made it in because of the amount of ground it covered, the 'Barder-event' case Dixon v Marchant was important, as was the Brussells II case Bush v Bush. Finally, Re A (A Child: Joint Residence/Parental Responsibility) gave very useful guidance on the subjects of shared residence and parental responsibility.
Let us see what 2009 brings!