News Update: 2nd October 2012

WELCOME to the Family Lore News Update.

Charities launch major inquiry into the care of looked-after children
An inquiry into how best to provide stable homes for children who cannot live with their birth parents has been launched by a group of eight charities. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Lord Chief Justice expresses concern about increase in litigants in person
The Lord Chief Justice, the Lord Judge, has expressed concern about the increase in litigants in person and the effect upon the efficiency of the courts. No surprise there. Full story: Family Law Week.

Number of looked after children in Wales in last year rises by 6 per cent
The latest National Statistics on Children Looked After in Wales produced by the Welsh Government have been released, as reported by Family Law Week.

Retirement of the President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice for England and Wales
Sir Nicholas Wall will retire as the President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice for England and Wales on 1 December 2012 on grounds of ill health. I wish him well. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Couples who share the housework are more likely to divorce, study finds
Divorce rates are far higher among “modern” couples who share the housework than in those where the woman does the lion’s share of the chores, a Norwegian study has found. Full story: The Telegraph.

Family lawyers call for more ADR support
A leading family lawyer has called for more government and judicial support to encourage separating couples to resolve disputes out of court. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Hair-strand testing comes under judicial scrutiny in child care case
Mr Justice Baker gives judgment in case concerning conflicting hair-strand expert evidence (the Bristol City Council case - see below). Full story: Family Law Week.

Children adopted from care numbers rise by 12% in the last year
Latest figures released by the Department for Education show that there were 67,050 looked after children at 31 March 2012, an increase of 2 per cent compared to 31 March 2011 and an increase of 13 per cent compared to 31 March 2008. Full story: Family Law Week.

Re Z (Adoption: Scottish Child Placed in England: Convention Compliance) [2012] EWHC 2404 (Fam) (30 August 2012)
Adoption application opposed by the parents on the grounds that the earlier Scottish placement procedure breached Arts 6 and 8 ECHR. Application granted. Full report: Family Law Week.

D and L (Surrogacy) [2012] EWHC 2631 (Fam) (28 September 2012)
Parental orders made pursuant to s.54 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 in respect of twin boys. Judgment dealing with issues relating to s.54(1), dispensing with consent and authorisation of payments given by the Applicants. Full report: Family Law Week. Discussed by Marilyn Stowe - see below.

Derbyshire County Council v HM and Others [2011] EWHC 3389 (Fam) (15 December 2011)
Proceedings to determine which of two local authorities was the designated authority for the purposes of the Children Act 1989, section 31. Consideration as to whether the children in question were looked after children for the purposes of section 105(6). Full report: Family Law Week. Discussed by suesspiciousminds (below).

KK v STCC [2012] EWHC 2136 (COP) (26 July 2012)
Case concerning an 82-year old woman living in a nursing home, who wished to return to her own home.Judgment dealing with issues of capacity and deprivation of liberty. Full report: Bailii. Also discussed by suesspiciousminds (below).

H-T (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 1215 (11 September 2012)
Care proceedings. Appeal against s.34(4) direction giving the local authority permission to refuse any contact between the parents and any of the four children. Appeal allowed. Full report: Family Law Week.

I (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 1217 (24 July 2012)
Application for permission to appeal against a placement for adoption order. Application granted in part. Full report: Family Law Week.

Bristol City Council v A and A and Others [2012] EWHC 2548 (FAM) (25 September 2012)
Care proceedings in which two hair-strand tests were carried out to detect the mother's drug use, with contradictory results, one of the testers subsequently accepting that that its analysis was erroneous and unreliable. Full report: Family Law Week. Also discussed by suesspiciousminds (below).

Lord McNally’s speech to the Birmingham Law Society Family Conference 2012
The full text of Lord McNally’s speech to the Birmingham Law Society Family Conference 2012.

Anglo Scottish divorce lost in translation and history
"If ever there was an example of significantly different outcomes across national borders, notwithstanding close historic ties, it must surely be England and Scotland." Says David Hodson on Family Law.

Can the Court Protect Vulnerable Adults who have Capacity?
Moira Sofaer, barrister and mediator, of Goldsmith Chambers, considers the protection afforded by the courts to vulnerable adults who are outside the ambit of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in the light of the Court of Appeal’s judgment in DL. Full article: Family Law Week.

Divorce – needs and non-matrimonial assets: formula or flexibility?
A discussion of the Law Commission's supplemental consultation paper (Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements – Law Com 2012/208). Full article: Halsbury's Law Exchange.

Designation’s what you need (or how to duck your responsibilities)
"A discussion of Derbyshire County Council v HM 2011 [above], and why it is important for Local Authority lawyers." Full post: suesspiciousminds.

Surrogacy: the mysterious case of the disappearing mother and the gay male parents
Marilyn Stowe looks at the case D and L (Surrogacy) [2012] EWHC 2631 (Fam) (above).

Ace! Genius! And other superlatives.
Lucy Reed considers the guidance issued by HMCTS Civil and Family Operations Branch on the use of e-mail in the Civil and Family Courts.

Hair we go again – or blip versus tip
"What the heck do we do with hair strand tests following Bristol City Council v AA and Others 2012 [above]?" Full post: suesspiciousminds.

an englishwoman’s home is her castle (unless she is 82) ?
"A race through KK v STCC 2012 [above] – on deprivation of liberty, capacity and Court of Protection." Full post: suesspiciousminds.

Sex abuse allegations against parent should be disclosed in contact proceedings
The Court of Appeal has ordered the the disclosure of serious allegations made against a parent by an anonymous third party in contact proceedings. The UK Human Rights Blog examines the recent case Re J.

Judge’s discretion
A discussion of the recent judgment of Lord Justice Ward in the case of Al-Saffar v Al-Saffar [2012] EWCA Civ 1103. Full post: Marilyn Stowe Blog.


  1. John,

    Thanks for these updates- they save me looking anywhere else.
    Regarding LJ Wall's retirement, any ideas as to who his successor might be? I wonder if LJ McFarlane is a real contender.
    It would be interesting to read a post, reviewing Wall’s tenure and any changes made or precedents set by him. The only case that sticks out in my mind is the notorious Vicky Haigh saga. I suppose there is also a relocation case which has been flogged to death, although it set no new precedent.
    What will he be remembered for?

    1. Glad you find the updates useful.

      I was idly wondering about his successor. Matthew Thorpe is perhaps the obvious choice.

      The answer to your question will no doubt depend upon your point of view. His tenure has been brief, but it has been a time of considerable upheaval.

  2. Hi John
    Funnily enough I was crossing Fleet Street this lunchtime and who was cycling straight towards me? I immediately jumped back to allow Sir Mathew Thorpe to continue his journey without incident...and me too....

  3. Of course, we must wish Sir Nicholas well in his retirement.

    Perhaps he might now follow in the steps of retired MPs and publish his memoirs. It would be interesting to understand his U-turn on the issue of Relocation Law:

    As for his replacement, I can't think of anyone less suitable that Thorpe. His ruling in Payne v Payne, giving paramountcy to the so-called 'distress argument' of the primary carer, has been thoroughly discredited.

    Coleridge would be my first choice.

    Bruno D'Itri


Post a comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post. Constructive comments are always welcome, even if they do not coincide with my views! Please note, however, that comments will be removed or not published if I consider that:
* They are not relevant to the subject of this post; or
* They are (or are possibly) defamatory; or
* They breach court reporting rules; or
* They contain derogatory, abusive or threatening language; or
* They contain 'spam' advertisements (including links to any commercial websites).
Please also note that I am unable to give advice.