Monday, February 01, 2010

January Post of the Month

The big family law news of January was the publication of the Families and Relationships Green Paper, with its proposal of a 'comprehensive review of the family justice system', and other reforms. I posted about this myself, but someone else wrote a post that was so much better than mine.

I guess one yardstick for a blogging award is: "I wish I had written that". Well, this was my reaction when I read Reformed Meat, by Pink Tape, my Post of the Month for January. The post provides a complete reality check for the proposals in the Green Paper, making them seem what they probably are: no more than another piece of government spin. Take, for example, the Green Paper's emphasis on mediation: "one might get the impression from reading the press releases that the alternative of mediation is something that is practically unheard of", says Pink Tape, before going on to explain that mediation is, in fact, already playing a major role in resolving disputes (and has been doing so for many years) - it is not some new idea that the clever government has just thought up. Nor, however, is it a panacea: "Does the Government secretly hope that if they stick a few adverts for mediation on that all private law cases will be magically diverted from the court system and hey presto the LSC and CAFCASS budgets can be slashed by half?" She asks.

However, Pink Tape saves her best for the much-heralded vote-winner of making it easier for grandparents to apply for contact orders. She points out how strangely this sits with the other proposals, which are aimed at getting people out of the courts, and reminds us that, far from being the wronged saints the government would have us believe, "unfortunately some grandparents really do their best to foment discontent and actually ratchet up the disharmony".

Lastly, Pink Tape does accept that the terms of reference for the review mean that it could deal with the system's biggest (and rapidly worsening) problems of lack of resources and (consequent) delay, but:
"...goodness only knows what state the system will be in by the time the review report sees the light of day. I’d bet that some of my clients will still be crawling through the system by the time that happens."
... I for one will not be taking her up on that bet.

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