Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Look in the Mirror

One of the most depressing features of writing this blog (and, I suspect, any family law blog) is the number of commenters who come on with an obvious axe to grind against the family justice system and all those who work within it. Now, that wouldn't be quite so bad but for the aggressive, unreasonable and often downright obnoxious nature of some of the comments, for example suggesting that all who work in the system are biased (e.g. against fathers), that they are only motivated by self interest (i.e. money) or, most ludicrous of all, that they are conspiring against certain users of the system. Now, I know that some people have had a very bad experience of the system. I have seen it. However, for the vast majority the system produces outcomes that are satisfactory, or at least the best that can be achieved in the circumstances. One bad experience does not equal a conspiracy.

I could go on, but I have been beaten to this post by Steven Ballard (left) of the Massachusetts Divorce & Family Law Blog. In his post Is Family Law a Masterful Scam? A Criminal Enterprise? he responds to a (fairly typical) commenter, in a more eloquent way than I could:
"People who are divorcing and fighting each other need to take responsibility for their own mistakes rather than simply blaming their lawyers and the system, and subscribing to inane, ridiculous conspiracy theories about lawyers and judges who are supposedly getting rich at their clients' expense."
and he concludes:
"Change the law, improve the system, yes. But in your own individual cases, you should always take a good hard look in the mirror before assessing blame for problems in your own home."

Monday, September 28, 2009

In the papers today...

Plenty of family law-related news and comment in the papers this morning.

First up, we have Libby Purves (left) in The Times discussing the 'news' that more couples are entering into pre-nuptial agreements. I don't necessarily take exception to her basic point which seems to be that drawing up a pre-nup may just encourage couples to face up to some of the practical realities of marriage. However, there are a few things she says with which I do take exception. Firstly, she suggests that the courts have been ignoring pre-nups. Now, by 'ignore' she may have meant 'not followed', but the way it is written implies 'disregard'. The courts do not (or at least should not) disregard pre-nups - it has been the case for some time that pre-nups should be one of the circumstances that the courts should take into account when deciding a financial/property settlement. Secondly, she goes on to say that "the British divorce courts, sweet romantics, have enabled too much greed and injustice at every financial level". Really? I've not seen this, in some 25 years of practising - the courts are trying to create a fair settlement for both parties, obviously with particular regard to the welfare of any children. In any event, the courts are only applying the law as given to them by Parliament 40 years ago, so don't blame the messenger. Finally, Purves indicates that since 1969 we have had "no fault" divorce. She puts the words in inverted commas, but nevertheless this is just plain wrong and misleading. As I'm sure she well knows, we do not have a no-fault system, at least until the parties have been separated for two years.

Moving on, there are two other pieces in The Times, both relating to the issue of the opening up of the family courts. One article is by Sarah Harman, who argues that expert opinions in family courts should be open to objective scrutiny. I agree, subject to privacy safeguards, where required, although I'm not sure who will be doing the scrutinising - hopefully, not the media. In her concluding paragraph Harman states that: "There is still huge opposition throughout the legal and social work professions to more transparency in the family courts, most of which is due to self-interest." I find the self-interest allegation to be a cheap media swipe at all those caring and hard-working people who work in the family justice system, the vast majority of whom object to more transparency for genuine reasons relating to the welfare of the children, rather than out of self interest.

The other piece in The Times reports the concerns that the Family Justice Council have over the proposed opening up of the family courts, in particular the potential for “naming and shaming” of social workers. I agree that this is a very serious matter (social workers are under more than enough pressure as it is), and I share the concerns that the proposals may be being pushed through too quickly, without proper consideration for their consequences. I note, incidentally, that the ubiquitous Marilyn Stowe appears in this report too, making the point that the reporting of judgments in family proceedings should be sufficient to lift the secrecy of family courts.

Lastly, and on a lighter note, I am indebted once again to John Hirst of Jailhouselawyer's Blog for bringing my attention to this story, that appeared in the Telegraph this morning. Milton Mbhele (left), a 44 year-old South African, has married four brides simultaneously. I wish them all well, although if it goes wrong, I wouldn't like to be his divorce lawyer sorting out the mess...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

More pre-nups: An important development?

The BBC has today picked up on the story that more couples are apparently signing pre-nuptial agreements than previously. I won't deny that this is the case, although I'm not sure where the evidence comes from - most of it seems to be anecdotal, and certainly there is no 'central register of pre-nuptial agreements'. Be that as it may, if more such agreements are being entered into then the question must be why, when the law clearly states that they are unenforceable? The article says that lawyers give the increasing number of independently wealthy women, coupled with greater numbers of people marrying later in life with complicated family arrangements, as reasons for their popularity. I would add that the media frenzy in recent years over a sequence of big-money cases in which husbands have (apparently) done very badly has caused wealthy men to try to protect their wealth prior to marriage. At the same time, recent case-law has made it clear that the courts will have regard to pre-nuptial agreements, and may even follow them, in certain circumstances.

A cynic may say that pre-nuptial agreements are for those with money who value that money more highly than relationships (I note that, at the end of the article, Marilyn Stowe (right) says that if she were asked to enter into one, she wouldn't), but will they ever become the norm? I suppose that the more 'normal' they become in terms of numbers of people entering into them, the less 'unromantic' they will seem, but I can't see them ever being used by the vast majority of couples of 'ordinary' means. Still, the fact that a development in family law only applies to the small rich minority has never prevented the media from making a big deal out of it...

Friday, September 25, 2009

How the other half lives

There was a rare glimpse of how the other half lives in this report in the Telegraph yesterday, and elsewhere. One does not often come across the word 'scion' whilst reading the papers (and quite why the word 'descendant' will not do for the aristocracy, I don't know), but here it was, in all its glory. The story concerns the wonderfully named Anthony Arbuthnot Watkins Grubb, "a scion of one of Sussex's top landed families", whose wife is seeking an occupation order, ousting him from his ancestral home, the Mayes Estate, East Grinstead, which has been in his family for many generations.

Now, occupation orders are made all the time, and obviously this story would not have made the news if it had concerned Mr and Mrs Smith of Walnut Grove, Milton Keynes. The clear implication to me is that somehow the aristocracy should be treated differently from the plebs with whom they most certainly do not rub shoulders. I'm not suggesting that this is how Mr Grubb is thinking, but rather that that is my impression from the publicity that this story has gained. I hope I'm wrong, and I cling to the belief that the law treats all members of society equally. It does, doesn't it?

* * *

UPDATE: The report of Mr Grubb's application for permission to appeal against the occupation order has now appeared on Bailii. The application was refused, primarily because Mr grubb had other accommodation available. Lord Justice Wilson said: "An occupation order is always serious, and no doubt can sometimes be particularly serious when it relates to a spouse's removal from what one might almost call his ancestral home. But the occupation order is likely to carry its greatest level of seriousness when it is made against a spouse to whom alternative accommodation is not readily available ... In the present case immediate separation was not only "beneficial" but "necessary" and ... the only way of achieving it was to evict the husband, to whom his property at Garden Gate was readily available and who in any event had massive resources with which to fund his comfortable accommodation elsewhere."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A more civilised way?

There is a moving article in The Times today. It describes the attempts of a grandfather (who happens to be a retired judge) and his family to obtain contact with his grandchildren, after the death of his son. He found the experience to be "as dispiriting as it was depressing", with a thoroughly unsatisfactory outcome. He concludes:

"Contact applications do not lend themselves to the adversarial process. The welfare of the children should not involve a court battle between factions. A better, more civilised way must be found. And why should grandparents have to make an application for leave? We will never desert our son’s children. If contact cannot be agreed a further application will be made."

Can a more civilised way be found? I know that there are many who believe that the answer to this is a resounding "Yes", and I've come across many good ideas since I've been writing this blog, but none that have convinced me that we can do away with the courts, unless matters can be agreed. Having said that, there is nothing to stop the courts using an inquisitorial process in children disputes, and that would surely be a step in the right direction.

As to the issue of leave, in my experience this has always been pretty much a formality in grandparent applications, so I can see no reason why grandparents should have this extra hurdle to overcome.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Family Law Collaborative Divorce Blog

Well, this is a rare but very pleasant event - announcing a new UK family law blog. The Family Law Collaborative Divorce Blog is written by solicitor Richard Sharp (left) of Sharp Family Law in Bath. Unsurprisingly, Richard is a collaborative lawyer (trained in the UK and USA), and the blog is described as being "dedicated to helping UK divorcing families reach solutions". The blog does not yet have a great deal of content, but what it has seems to me to be pretty high-quality advice aimed directly at the public. Unusally for a UK blog, the Family Law Collaborative Blog uses the LexBlog platform, which gives it a very professional look, and a feeling of permanence. I hope this proves to be the case.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Collaborative Law: An Oxymoron?

My thanks to the Australian Divorce Blog for drawing my attention to this article on the website of North Carolina firm Rice Law PLLC. Rice Law describe themselves as "a high-quality Christ-centered North Carolina law firm that aggressively fights for its clients" and who "represent good people living all over the world with a meritorious legal issue in the state of North Carolina". Wow. I'm not quite sure what a 'Christ-centered' law firm is (but I'm glad I never worked for one), or how they ensure that they only act for 'good people', but let's move on...

The article deals with collaborative law. Now, Rice Law clearly don't think much of collaborative law, and they don't mince their words setting out their opinion:

"Collaborative law has certainly not taken hold here in the Fifth and Thirteenth Judicial Districts. Perhaps this is because couples who are facing a divorce are not likely to hire lawyers who are more akin to mental health therapists and advocate that everyone get naked, jump in a pile, eat potluck and sign agreements mutually beneficial to everyone."

The article concludes:

"Perhaps I am old fashioned but I see collaborative law as an oxymoron. Lawyers are trained to do battle for their clients. Certainly, we learn the art of negotiation and seek settlements that are to the benefit of our client (and the children who are the subject of a custody dispute) but collaboration and law simply don't fit together. You might feel really good about it but I don't see how you can be sure you did the right thing."

Somehow, I can't see a family lawyer over here expressing such views, and this wonderful plain-speaking that seems so typically American initially seemed amusing to my 'sophisticated' English tastes. However, putting aside the blunt rhetoric, do they have a point? We do have an adversarial system over here, and everyone is entitled to their day in court, if they want it. As the writer of the article points out: "If the couple is fair minded, we don't need collaborative law to reach settlement .... If they are not fair minded, it is my opinion they are more likely to reach settlement if they have a court date and a lawyer who is prepared to try their case."

Monday, September 21, 2009

War and Peace

It may not be quite as long as Tolstoy's tome, but it is certainly epic. Blawg Review #230, written by the 'Unsilent Partners' Colin Samuels of the Infamy or Praise blog and Mike Semple-Piggot aka Charon QC have written an awesome and thought-provoking Blawg Review to mark today being the United Nations' International Day of Peace. Take a break from the hostilities of modern life and have a read...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Universal Problem

I must recommend an excellent post by Australian family lawyer Stephen Page (left) of the Australian Divorce Blog. The post is a transcript of a speech he gave for CEO Challenge, a program of partnerships between the business sector and the community to respond to domestic violence. Entitled "25 years of acting for survivors of domestic violence", the speech recalls Stephen's experiences acting for victims of domestic violence (including the danger he has himself faced) and how the response to domestic violence has improved over that time. Domestic violence is a universal problem, and this post is a must-read for family lawyers and others who deal with the problem, wherever they are.

Friday, September 18, 2009


The Telegraph today reports a case that will have Baroness Deech smiling in smug satisfaction. As if to prove her argument that the ancillary relief system is unfair towards husbands, here we have poor William Murphy, who was left with only £450,000 out of the liquid assets of £3 million. Mr Murphy claims that the settlement was "unfair discrimination", and is appealing to the Court of Appeal.

On the face of the figures, Mr Murphy does seem to have a point. However, there are always two sides to a story, and it appears from the report that Mrs Justice Parker in the High Court may have had good reasons for departing from equality. It will be very interesting to see what the Court of Appeal makes of it.

Of course, whatever the outcome of the appeal, the popular media have already got their grubby hands on the story, adding to the myth that the system is biased against husbands.

* * *

UPDATE: The Court of Appeal has found in favour of Mr Murphy. I expect I shall comment further when I see the full report.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Keep Your Mumbo-Jumbo to Yourself

I had to check it wasn't April Fools' Day. The news that the "relics" (read: bits of thigh and foot bones) of "St Thérèse of Lisieux" (read: a nineteenth-century French nun) had arrived in Britain in 2009 for a month-long tour just had to be a spoof, surely? Sadly, it appears not - there are still sufficient numbers of people so deluded as to actually believe this nonsense. As Matthew Parris in The Times today points out, an event like this is a reminder to all right-thinking people not to legitimise mumbo-jumbo with undeserved respect.

Don't get me wrong, if you want to believe in mumbo-jumbo then that is your right. What you are not entitled to do, however, is try to force your version of mumbo jumbo upon others. Take, for instance, this article that appeared in the Guardian's Comment is free column yesterday. It seems that last week the Jewish Agency for Israel and Israel Journey released a video advertisement which likened Jews who married outside of the religion to missing persons. Now, I'm no expert on the arcane intricacies of the Jewish faith (and I have far better things to do with my three-score years and ten than to study them), but prejudice is still prejudice no matter what the excuse. This particular piece of mumbo-jumbo prejudice came to light (and the perpetrators have been forced to back down), but how many insidious instances must there be every day of parents/relatives/'friends'/church/community/etcetera pressurising people not to marry someone who does not belong to the same mumbo-jumbo group?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Baroness Deech: Reactionary

With reference to my post yesterday, I've since read an edited extract of Baroness Deech's Gresham College lecture in the Guardian, and I now have the following further comments to make upon what she says:

"The divorce courts are still trying to put women in the position they would have been in had the marriage not ended" - I sincerely hope not. It is correct that, as originally drafted, s.25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act required the courts to exercise their powers so as to place the parties (so far as practicable) in the financial position in which they would have been had the marriage not broken down. However, that requirement was removed by the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984.

"maintenance laws cushion and legitimise the attitudes of employers who discriminate against women, because they are aware of the "meal ticket for life" mentality" - Sorry, but I just don't buy that. Employers may discriminate against women, but I don't think that they give a moment's thought to the fact that if a woman gets divorced she may get a "meal ticket for life", which she will not anyway.

"some certainty about the way to split assets may be more important than total fairness" - As I indicated yesterday, I agree that there should be more certainty, but I'm not sure that this must be at the expense of fairness.

She then goes on to suggest that perhaps there should be one law for the rich and one for the poor, a slippery slope that the law has (quite rightly, in my opinion) always attempted to avoid.

"The notion that a wife should get half of the joint assets of a couple after even a short childless marriage" - I commented on this yesterday, with reference to the Miller case. I don't see that there is any such notion - certainly, that was not the result in Miller, as Baroness Deech herself makes clear.

She then makes some useful suggestions regarding the definition of 'matrimonial property', which I hope that one day parliament will find time to consider, in between passing more of the daft laws that take up so much of its time these days.

Finally, however, we come to the crux of Baroness Deech's conservative and reactionary agenda when she lets slip the following: "If we had a divorce system based on misconduct, then it would be easy to find a rationale pinned to guilt and innocence, but that is unlikely to be the case ever again." It seems clear to me that this is what Baroness Deech is really hankering after: a return to the bad old days of conduct directly affecting entitlement. Thankfully, she is right in one thing: that is unlikely to be the case ever again, or at least I hope it is.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Marriage is a joint venture... ?

I see that Baroness Deech is at it again. Having put the knife in to any prospect of a decent law protecting cohabitees for the foreseeable future, now she's having a go at the ancillary relief system, claiming that it is unfair towards husbands, according to a report in The Times today.

Now, I'm not going to go out of my way to defend the system, as I do have a number of reservations about it, particularly its uncertainty, but I do take issue with some of the points mentioned in the report, and have comments to make on others:

"multimillion-pound awards are degrading to women" - Really? I wonder if Beverley Charman felt degraded when she received her £48 million - I rather suspect that her feelings were more akin to vindication, i.e. getting just what she was entitled to.

"Baroness Deech is calling for an end to the idea that women deserve half of their husbands’ wealth on divorce" - I'll ignore the gender bias, as I presume Baroness Deech believes that men similarly do not deserve half of their wives' wealth. However, I'm not sure on what basis Baroness Deech claims that there is such an idea as equal sharing - White v White established equality as a yardstick against which to compare any proposed settlement, not a starting-point.

"The notion that a wife should get half of the joint assets of a couple after even a short, childless marriage has crept up on us without any parliamentary legislation to this effect" - Presumably, this is a reference to Miller, but Mrs Miller did not receive half of the joint assets, or anything like it.

"judicial discretion on what can be awarded should end" - And be replaced by what? I've always found it extremely difficult to envisage a non-discretionary system that will be able to achieve fairness in all cases (not that I'm saying that the present system does, but at least it has the potential to do so).

"maintenance [should end] where a woman cohabits rather than remarries" - I might be prepared to agree with this, provided that there was some sort of safeguard to ensure that the cohabitation was of a 'permanent' nature, such as a six-month requirement.

"no maintenance should be paid at all unless the spouse cannot work or has young children to care for" - It is a fact that many women give up work to bring up the family. As such, they are obviously disadvantaged in the labour market. I do not want a return to the 'meal ticket for life', but surely it is only right that, in appropriate circumstances, they receive maintenance for a temporary period to enable them to re-establish their financial independence?

"Only assets acquired after a marriage would be divided, but with no division at all in the case of marriages of three years or less" - I'm probably with Baroness Deech on the first part of this (although absolute rules make me nervous), but the second part would lead to absurd pressures as marriages reach the three-year mark, with (say,) husbands rushing off to court to issue divorce proceedings before their third anniversary.

"Lady Deech also takes a swipe at the idea that women deserve half the assets because they have given up a career"- Again, I'm not aware of any rule to this effect. However, if a lucrative career has been given up, then surely that is a factor that should be taken into account?

In short, Baroness Deech seems to me to be giving far too much weight to 'breadwinning', as if it were somehow more important (and therefore more valued) than looking after the home and bringing up the family. If one party (and it is more often the husband) is fortunate enough to have a high income then why should the law say that their contribution is greater than that of the other spouse who stayed at home and looked after the children? Isn't it offensive to wives and mothers to devalue their efforts purely because those efforts brought no financial reward (although they did, of course, save enormous expense in childminding, cleaning, cooking etc, etc.). After all, marriage is a joint venture, isn't it?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Exploding the Myths

Solicitors Woolley & Co have created a new online resource, As the name suggests, the site sets out to explode some of the many myths surrounding separation and divorce, such as the myth of the 'quickie' divorce, and that adultery will affect the financial/property settlement on divorce. The 'myths' are covered both on the site and in a free downloadable 47-page book, and if a 'myth' isn't covered, you can request an answer from Woolley & Co.

I know that the site is intended to promote Woolley & Co's business and that I don't usually advertise law firms here, but hey - they're giving away something of value, and that is worth promoting.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Who would be a social worker?

... meanwhile the Children's Workforce Development Council press ahead with their campaign to recruit social workers.


You really couldn't make it up. According to this report in the Daily Mail today, Haringey Council, the local authority at the centre of the Baby P scandal, placed a foster child with the ringleader of the airline bomb plotters, Abdulla Ahmed Ali. Ali lived with relatives who were approved as foster carers by the Council. Now, without knowing all of the facts I don't know what, if anything, this says about the competence of staff at Haringey, but you've got to admit that this is extremely unfortunate, to say the very least.

Apparently, the plotters intended to take children with them onto the aircraft, to reduce suspicion.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Andre and Price: Cross-Decrees

I have until now studiously avoided mentioning the divorce of "celebrities" Peter Andre and Katie Price on this blog. However, I think that one thing does deserve a mention. As has been reported across the media, the couple were today granted cross-decrees at the High Court, and I thought I would just explain what is going on here. Essentially, the court is simultaneously granting each party a decree nisi on the basis of the other's unreasonable behaviour. The obvious question is: why? The answer is, quite simply, that each party petitioned or cross-petitioned on the basis of the other's unreasonable behaviour, and neither was prepared to concede to allowing the divorce to proceed solely on the basis of the other's allegations. A little childish, you may think, but infinitely better than a contested divorce.

Note that, contrary to many reports in the less well-informed media, the marriage was not dissolved today - it will only be dissolved when one party applies for the decree absolute, which they can only do after six weeks have elapsed from today.

London Family Court Open Day Saturday 10 October 2009 from 10am - 4pm

Taken from The Magistrate's Blog:

London Family Court Open Day Saturday 10 October 2009 from 10am - 4pm

Brent Magistrates’ Court, 448 High Road, London, NW10 2DZ
Croydon Magistrates’ Court, Barclay Road, Croydon, Surrey, CR9 3NG
Richmond Magistrates’ Court, Parkshot, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 2RF
Stratford Magistrates’ Court, 389-397 High Street, London, E15 4SB

Each court will host a lively programme of activities including opportunities to:
  • take part in mock hearings about contact and care
  • meet professionals from the agencies involved with the family courts
  • learn about family court orders
  • ask questions and understand the role of court staff
  • enjoy interactive play over the internet with Dad’s Space; a new initiative to provide safe contact for children with a non resident parent.
  • browse exhibition stands from numerous agencies involved in working with children.
  • enter a children’s activities area for younger visitors
Entry and activities are free of charge and no advance booking is required. With lots to see and do the Open Day promises to be of interest to all age ranges.

For further details or want to become involved contact the organisers at

Monday, September 07, 2009

Q & A

Is it really six months since I did a post answering some of the keyword searches that found their way to this blog? Well, in that case it is about time I did another. As always, the Disclaimer in my sidebar applies to what follows.

naccc directory of child contact centres

For some reason, it seems that it is not possible to put the directory online, which would be extremely useful. It is, however, available to affiliate members - see their website.

false allegations in family court

...are made frequently. If they are particularly serious, then they could result in sanctions for the person making the allegations, but this is unusual. Normally, the court will simply decide which party is telling the truth, and leave it at that.

is there a branch of law,known as grandparents rights

No, but grandparents do have rights - see this post.

can courts force me to see ex partner during contact with child

In a word, no. If direct contact between the parents is a problem, the court will try to avoid it, for example by use of a third party.

can you enforce ex partner to have kids overnight

No. Contact of any type cannot be forced upon a parent.

what can i do, my ex never turns up for the kids

By the same token, you cannot force them to turn up. However, if they are in regular breach of an agreement or order, then you may be entitle to repudiate the agreement or vary the order.

how to win in divorce book

There are no winners in divorce.

how many incidents do i need for a divorce for unresonable grounds

There is no required number - it depends upon the seriousness of the allegations. My lecturer at law school taught me 'first, last and worst'.

can a consent for decree nisi be objected

Presumably, you are referring to two years' separation and consent, in which case consent can be withdrawn at any time prior to decree nisi.

does my ex have to pay me now she is cohabiting

I assume that this is referring to a settlement whereby one of the triggers for one spouse to pay the other a share of the matrimonial home is that that spouse is cohabiting. Usually, the cohabitation has to last for a specified period - say, 6 months. If that period is reached, the payment is triggered. However, proving cohabitation may be another matter...

nearly lore legal website

I think you may be mixing this blog with the excellent Nearly Legal.

if decree nisi pronounced on 20 august 2009 when can i apply for decree absolute

The 2nd of October.

ancillary relief for dismissal purposes

An application used when the financial/property settlement is agreed. The application enables to court to dismiss all other claims of a financila nature by either party against the other.

tell truth solicitors adultery

Not often that one sees the words 'tell truth' and 'solicitors' in the same sentence. Of course, the client must tell the truth to their solicitor...

if there is no pension sharing order can i do anything to stop half being taken by my ex wife

? She will not get anything if there is no order.

lawyers always leave things until the last minute


how do i do my own divorce

Easy, read this book!

Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence

Now, I'm no criminal lawyer (not for a very long time, at least), so please bear this in mind while reading this post. I have, however, dealt with many cases involving domestic violence. The worst cases were, of course, those ones where the perpetrator was the sort of character for whom the possibility of a term (or another term) in prison meant nothing, and certainly acted as no deterrent. Such characters have no regard whatsoever for any form of authority and may remain a danger to the client for many years to come.

Such, it seems, was the case with Michael Curry, who came before Exeter Crown Court recently. Curry, who has a record for assaulting previous partners, pleaded guilty to ABH on his latest partner, an attack that apparently included punching her, stamping on her and attempting to strangle her. Judge Graham Cottle was advised by a probation officer "that it was likely that [Curry] would again resort to violence when released". Mindful of this, Cottle sentenced him to four years in prison and thereafter five years on licence, a sentence which would have protected Curry's partner(s) for a considerable time. Unfortunately, however, Judge Cottle had exceeded his powers, because the total sentence could not exceed the maximum for ABH, which was five years. He therefore reduced the sentence to three and a half years prison plus one year on licence. Clearly frustrated, Judge Cottle criticised the sentencing laws which, he said, were not consistent with his public duty to protect women (or, presumably, male victims of domestic violence).

Now, this all seems somewhat ironic in a time when we are regularly being told how the Government is getting tough on crime, particularly violent crime. However, that is not the point of this post. I am more concerned with the victims than the perpetrators. OK, so the maximum sentence for ABH is five years in prison. Let us say that that is a suitable maximum for such an offence. At the end of the prison term, however, shouldn't the victim be given some form of protection? After all, the offender of course has no right to harass or assault his former victim, and so a licence would not in any way impinge upon his liberty. Or am I talking nonsense, just an amateur dabbling in criminal matters?

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Well, I had wanted to write a blog post, but my co-blogger Muhammad had other ideas...

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Giuseppe Verdi + Mackenzie Thorpe. Enjoy:

Family Lore Focus Newsletter

Just a quick reminder about the Family Lore Focus Newsletter. The Newsletter is a free weekly email that will update you on everything that has happened in the world of family law during that week, including news, reported cases, statutes, statutory instruments, practice directions, articles, podcasts and UK family law blogs. It is the only email updater that provides a comprehensive update, with sources including newspapers and other periodicals, Bailii, the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, UK Parliament, Family Law Week, Family Law Newswatch, Weekly Law Reports and UK family law blogs.

If you would like to subscribe to this free service, click here. All that is required is your name and email address.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

August Post of the Month

I make no apologies for awarding yet another of my coveted Post of the Month trophies to Charon QC, and when you read the post I'm sure you will see why it thoroughly deserves the award.

This post, quite frankly, puts most of us other blawgers to shame. It is truly a tour de force, covering a number topics with Charon QC's usual excellent humour, almost becoming a stream of consciousness epic, interspersed with numerous legal references. Reading it quite makes me feel inadequate...

So... [trumpets fanfare]... my Post of the Month trophy goes to Charon Qc for 15th August: Postcard from LA LA Land…

There is, of course, one benefit in awarding a Post of the Month to Charon QC - I do not have to ponder hard for an appropriate prize. You've guessed it... a case of the finest virtual rioja (and 200 virtual smokedo fags) is, as we speak, somewhere out there in the big fluffy cloud, winging its way to Charon QC, Esq.