Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review of the Year, Part 2

Continuing this exciting trip down (short-term) memory lane:

April
After the compulsory initial silliness, April heralded the biggest changes to family law procedure for many a year, with the introduction of compulsory mediation assessment and the Family Procedure Rules 2010, both of which were generally favourably received. As the President said, the creation of a unified single set of rules for the family jurisdiction was a significant achievement, and also a very welcome one.

Sir Nicholas enjoys some Easter sun
Then came Easter, and with it some not particularly good publicity for the Family Justice System, when the Sunday Mail picked up on the story that the family court's duty judge Sir Nicholas Mostyn would be conducting hearings by phone from his hotel in Tenerife. As Mark Stephens was quoted as saying: "I find it remarkable that a duty judge has gone away at this time." Quite.

And that was about it for April. Oh, apart from some minor wedding taking place in London...

May
On the 4th May, the Supreme Court heard the appeal in Jones v Kernott. More of this (much) later in this Review...

Meanwhile, in the less lofty echelons of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Jackson was dealing with yet another cautionary tale, involving "a financial disaster for a divorced couple and their child", caused by "a combination of dissension, misfortune, improvidence, and over-lengthy litigation in three courts". As a result of these things, almost nothing would be left of assets once valued at £300,000. A very sad (but unfortunately not unique) case.

On the 10th May the final report of the Munro Review of Child Protection was published. The 'headline' recommendation was that "local areas should have more freedom to develop their own effective child protection services, rather than focusing on meeting central government targets". Professor Munro urged a move away from the 'tick-box' culture of the past, and a greater focus on the needs of the child.

On the 23rd and 24th May the Supreme Court heard the appeal in Re E (Children). More of this not much later at all...

June
On the 10th June the Supreme Court delivered its judgment in Re E (Children). At issue was the correct approach to the Article 13(b) exception to the duty to return under the Hague Convention. The court considered that the words of Article 13(b) were "quite plain and required no further elaboration or "gloss"". The appeal by the mother, who had removed her two daughters to England from Norway against the wishes of the father, was dismissed.

On Father's Day David Cameron launched an attack against runaway fathers who abandon their families, calling for them to be "stigmatised" by society in the same way as drink-drivers are. Needless to say, his comments were not greeted with universal approval...

Finally (at least for this part of this Review), on the 21st June the Government published the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. Its subsequent passage through Parliament would not go without the odd comment...

2 comments:

  1. Perhaps David Cameron should concentrate his efforts on helping the dads who face an uphill struggle in their efforts to play an active role in the lives of their children, rather than just castigating runaway dads in general, many of whom are not runaway by choice.

    ReplyDelete
  2. ...as I said, his comments were not greeted with universal approval!

    ReplyDelete

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