Saturday, March 30, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guide for Litigants in Person

To coincide with the wholesale abolition of legal aid on the 1st of April, the Bar Council has published what looks like a useful guide for litigants in person, of which there will obviously be considerably more after Monday.

A Guide to Representing Yourself in Court is intended to help all litigants in person, not just those using the family courts. There are general sections on how to find affordable help, putting together your case, starting and defending a claim and representing yourself in court. There then follow sections dealing with specific areas of law, including family law, property ownership in relationship breakdowns and public law. The Guide finishes with a glossary of legal terms.

The Guide can be found here.

THE RAINMAKER: Chapter 6 - Sly Disappears

AT THE OFFICES of Messrs. Venal & Grabbit, Solicitors, Sly is consulting his friend and divorce lawyer, Edgar Venal.

"Of course," says Sly, "most of my assets are already out of the country, for tax reasons."

"Naturally." Says Edgar.

"In fact," continues Sly, "I have so little left in this country that I wouldn't be bothered if my wife got the lot. I'm only worried about her finding out about my foreign assets and getting her hands on them."

Edgar ponders for a moment, as an idea strikes him. "I think I may have the answer." He says.

"You do?" Says Sly, looking interested.

"It's a little radical, but it should work." Says Edgar.

"Go on." Says Sly.

"Well, the best way for your wife to find out about your foreign assets is through you. Her lawyers will want to question you to find out where all your money has gone." Says Edgar.

"Go on." Says Sly.

"Well, what if you were to disappear? Then her lawyers couldn't get their hands on you." Says Edgar.

"Go on." Says Sly.

"Why don't you leave the country, with no forwarding address? You could stay in my villa on Mustique, while you sort out somewhere to live permanently."

"I like it." Says Sly.

£            £            £

A week later, at the offices of Messrs. Amber, Lance & Chaser, Solicitors, Ebenezer is once again in a state of panic.

"Where's Sly?" He asks Dick Shifty. "He's not been in the office for days, and hasn't told anyone where he's gone, or when he'll be back. The striking out hearing is on Monday!"

Dick shrugs his shoulders. "I guess you'll have to do the hearing yourself." He says.

Ebenezer's heart sinks. How is he going to repay his loans if the case is thrown out?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Family Lore Clinic: How long to implement a consent order?

Another query about consent orders, although the answer is the same for all final financial remedy orders. (I am assuming that the person who asked this question was wanting to know how long it takes to implement the terms of a consent order, rather than how long it takes to get a consent order.)

Consent orders can contain any number of different provisions relating to the financial/property settlement on divorce. Any provision that requires something to be done must specify a time by when that thing should be done. For example, a provision requiring one party to pay a lump sum of money to the other must state by when that lump sum should be paid.

There are no set time limits to implement provisions of a consent order, although certain limits are commonly used for certain types of provision. The amount of time 'allowed' to implement a provision will depend upon the nature of the provision, and the circumstances of the case.

Accordingly, a provision to pay a lump sum may, for example, require that sum to be paid within 28 days of the date of the order. However, if the paying party needs longer to raise the sum, a longer period may be stipulated.

Other types of provisions may require different periods. For example, a provision involving the former matrimonial home to be transferred into the name of one party may require that that be done within, say, 56 days of the date of the order.

Note that consent orders do not take effect until decree absolute, so time periods may not commence until then, if the order has been made prior to decree absolute.

As usual, if you require specific advice relating to your own case, then you should consult a specialist family lawyer.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

News Update: 26th of March 2013

WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

Children whose parents have mental health difficulties are poorly supported and protected
Inconsistent mental health provision is disadvantaging young people in care, claims Ofsted, in a joint survey with the Care Quality Commission. Full story: Family Law Week.

Police announce new approach to assessing risk to missing children
The Association of Chief Police Officers has announced that police forces will move towards a new approach to risk assessing and responding to missing person cases that aims to better protect children and vulnerable adults. Full story: Family Law Week.

HFEA advises Government on necessary safeguards for IVF-based mitochondria replacement
The HFEA has agreed its advice to Government on the ethics and science of new IVF-based techniques designed to avoid serious mitochondrial diseases (see here). Full story: Family Law Week.

Draft Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Bill published
Consultation on the draft financial provision legislation launched. Full story: Family Law Week.

Revised safeguarding guidance for professionals working with children
Revised guidance published by the Government clarifies the responsibilities of professionals towards safeguarding children, and strengthens the focus away from processes and onto the needs of the child. Full story: Department for Education.

Call for research into effects on children of giving evidence in abuse cases
Lord chief justice says such research would help improve way in which young witnesses are treated by justice system. Full story: The Guardian.

Northamptonshire child protection 'inadequate', Ofsted finds
The system for stopping the neglect and abuse of children in Northamptonshire is inadequate, inspectors have found. Full story: BBC News.

Child protection services in Herefordshire 'must improve'
Herefordshire Council has been told to improve child protection services or face having the government step in to take them over. Full story: BBC News.

Family courts cuts will create ‘perfect storm’
Lawyers have voiced concern about plans to cut the number of judges and courts dealing with family cases in central London at a time when increasing numbers of litigants in person are expected to put greater strain on the service. Full story: Law Society Gazette. See also this post.

Cafcass ‘dispensing’ with most experienced guardians, warns Nagalro
Warning of sharp decline in Cafcass' use of self-employed guardians as survey reveals nearly a third are allocated no work. Full story: Community Care.

Siblings could be split up as spare bedroom tax hits foster carers
Campaigners warn the "ridiculous" plans could deter people from fostering groups of brothers and sisters. Full story: Community Care.

N v C [2013] EWHC 399 (Fam) (14 January 2013)
Schedule 1 claim by mother where the parties had agreed that the child would reside primarily with her father. Claim dismissed. Report: Family Law.

S (A Child), Re [2013] EWHC 647 (Fam) (25 March 2013)
Children proceedings involving issues of jurisdiction, where there had been previous proceedings in Spain. Full report: Bailii.

M (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 210 (12 February 2013)
Application by father for permission to appeal order refusing direct contact, refusing him parental responsibility and imposing s.91(14) embargo. Permission granted in respect of parental responsibility and the s.91(14) order. Full report: Family Law Hub.

H (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 205 (1 February 2013)
Child abduction. Application by father for permission to appeal against refusal of return order, on the basis of the child's wishes. Application refused. Full report: Family Law Hub.

BB and FB v Germany (Application Nos 18734/09 and 9424/11) (14 March 2013)
Children removed from parents after they made allegations of abuse, which were later found to be untrue. The parents complained that the withdrawal of their parental rights had interfered with their rights under Art 8. Held that there had been a violation of Art 8. Report: Family Law. Full report: ECHR.

Arif v Anwar & Anor [2013] EWHC 624 (Fam) (21 March 2013)
Case management hearing in financial remedy proceedings in which the husband was made bankrupt on his own petition, in circumstances where the bankruptcy may or may not have been tactical. Full report: Bailii.

P -S (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 223 (21 March 2013)
Appeals by child party to care proceedings against dismissal of application for leave to attend court to give evidence, and against the care order that was subsequently made. Appeals dismissed. Full report: Bailii. see also the blog posts, below.

Shami v Shami [2013] EWCA Civ 227 (20 March 2013)
Appeal by wife in relation to charges against a property owned by the husband, in favour of the husband's brother. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

PG v TW (No 1) (Child: Financial Provision: Legal Funding) [2012] EWHC 1892 (Fam) (4 May 2012)
Mother applied in Schedule 1 proceedings for an A v A order for the father to fund or contribute to her legal costs. Order made. Report: Family Law. Full report: Family Law Week.

PG v TW (No 2) (Child: Financial Provision) (18 March 2013)
Schedule 1 proceedings involving the father, who was a professional footballer, and the mother, who lived with the child in Africa. Report: Family Law. Full report: Family Law Week.

Human Rights and Family Law Spring Update 2013
Deirdre Fottrell, barrister of Coram Chambers, reviews recent cases involving human rights issues which are of significance to family lawyers. Full article: Family Law Week.

Samantha Bangham's Week in Cases
Samantha Bangham looks at the week's case highlights. Full article: Family Law.

Disproportionate costs and Children Act 1989 Sch 1 orders
"Two Family Division judges have recently berated two couples for their disproportionate expenditure on funding their litigation." Says David Burrows in this article in Family Law.

Family Law Week’s Budget Briefing 2013
Jan Ellis, chartered accountant, of Ellis Foster LLP, a firm which specialises in advising family lawyers on tax-related family law issues, explains the budget changes of most relevance to practitioners. Full article: Family Law Week.

Access all stakeholders
Lucy Reed explains the mysteries of the Family Justice Knowledge Hub, in this post on Pink Tape.

Child care proceedings ~ hearing the views of the child
"P-S (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 223 [above] is an interesting case - Judgment. It concerned care proceedings in which a 15 year old child wished to attend court to give evidence in support of his case to return to the care of his Mother." Says ObiterJ, in this post on Law and Lawyers.

Does a child have a RIGHT to give evidence? Does anyone?
The Court of Appeal decision in Re P-S (Children) 2013 again [above]. Suesspiciousminds asks the questions, in this post.

Haranguing Haringey
The case of AB and Another v London Borough of Haringey 2013 and the valuable lessons that can be learned from it. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

Monday, March 25, 2013

News Podcast: For the week to the 25th of March 2013

A summary of the most important family law news stories from the last week, in the usual short, easy-to-listen, format.

(If you can't see the audio player above, try refreshing your browser. Alternatively, you can listen to the podcast here.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Something for the Weekend: Yes - Time And A Word

At the risk of turning this into the obituary section of Family Lore (it's obviously something to do with my age), this is my tribute to Peter Banks, guitarist and founder member of Yes, who sadly passed away on the 7th of March:

Friday, March 22, 2013

THE RAINMAKER: Chapter 5 - Striking Out

AT THE OFFICES of Messrs. Amber, Lance & Chaser, Solicitors, Ebenezer is in something of a panic.

"What's the problem?" Asks Sly.

"Jaws Shark has filed an application to have the claim struck out!" Exclaims Ebenezer.

"Don't worry." Replies Sly calmly. "He does that in every case."

"Really?" Says Ebenezer.

"Yes. I'll attend the hearing and get the application thrown out. No problem" Says Sly.

"Thank you." Says a relieved Ebenezer. "The hearing is next Monday week."

"OK." Says Sly. "Who's the judge?"

"Judge Dodgy." Replies Ebenezer.

"Ah," Says Sly. "That could be a problem."

"How so?" Asks Ebenezer.

"Well," replies Sly, "don't ask me how I know this, but let's just say that Judge Dodgy isn't averse to a little monetary persuasion, and Jaws Shark isn't averse to putting a little money the way of an accommodating judge."

"You mean Jaws would bribe Judge Dodgy to find in his favour?" Asks an astonished Ebenezer. He can feel his preconceptions about the fairness of the English legal system begin to crumble.

"I'm afraid so." Says Sly.

"But what are we going to do about it?" Asks Ebenezer.

"Don't worry." Says Sly again. "Just leave it to me - I'll find a way to deal with Judge Dodgy."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Family Lore Clinic: In which area of law is legal aid abolition in family law 2013?

A topical question. The simple answer is: almost all private law family matters (i.e. not involving local authorities, such as child care cases) will no longer be covered by legal aid from the 1st of April.

The slightly longer answer is that legal aid will no longer be available for most private law family matters (including financial remedies on divorce and children disputes), unless domestic violence is involved or, in the case of children disputes, there is a risk of child abuse.

Legal aid will still be available for some private law family matters, including:

  • Domestic violence injunctions
  • Child abduction
  • Mediation to resolve family disputes.

You can find a legal aid adviser near you here - they will be able to tell you whether legal aid will be available for your matter.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

News Update: 19th of March 2013

WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

Majority of councils have a principal social worker in place
More than two thirds of local authority children’s services have appointed a principal social worker as recommended in the Munro review two years ago. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

'Unbundling’ the new craze as lawyer-backed family mediation service launches
A lawyer-backed service that supports divorcing couples during mediation, charging fixed fees to halve the cost, is being billed as a possible lifeline for family legal aid lawyers after 1 April. Full story: Legal Futures.

Barrister ends up £8 million worse off after challenging divorce settlement
A barrister who took her ex-husband to court complaining that her £26 million divorce settlement was not enough has ended up £8 million worse off. Full story: The Telegraph. The Evans case - see below.

Couple falsely accused of child abuse win damages from Haringey council
Pair plunged into 'nightmare' after anonymous tipoff about treatment of daughter are awarded £2,000 damages in high court. Full story: The Guardian. See also the law report, below.

Foster carers with more than one child will still face 'bedroom tax'
Carers' exemption from under-occupancy charge does not extend to more than one 'spare bedroom', ministers reveal. Full story: The Guardian.

Moving family mediation forward
Family Justice Minister Lord McNally has called on mediators to lead the way in promoting out of court solutions to help separating families. Full story: Ministry of Justice. The full speech is here.

False allegations of domestic violence are rare, according to the CPS
The first ever study by the Crown Prosecution Service into so-called false allegations of domestic violence and rape has been published by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Full story: Family Law Week.

‘Fraudulently induced’ pre-nuptial agreement is void, says US appeal court
Decision opens the way for others to challenge pre-nups, say commentators. Full story: Family Law Week.

Warning over 'needless criminalisation' of children in care
Children in care in England and Wales are being needlessly criminalised for "trivial incidents", MPs have warned. Full story: BBC News.

Parents to foot bill for putting children in care
Worcestershire parents who put their children into care could be made to pay the cost under council plans. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

BASW's concern at Baby P social workers appeal court ruling
BASW has said that difficult questions remain about the approach taken to staff involved in the Baby Peter Connelly case, following today's decision by the Court of Appeal to reject a claim of unfair dismissal brought by two of the boy's social workers against Haringey Council. Full story: BASW News.

MPs to vote on whether to allow straight couples enter civil partnerships
Straight couples could be allowed to enter civil partnerships, rather than get married, under proposals to be voted on by MPs. Full story: The Telegraph.

‘Bedroom tax’ U-turn allays foster carers’ fears
Foster carers will not be penalised by the so-called bedroom tax, after a change in policy. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Baby P social workers lose appeal over sacking
Judges back employment tribunal decision that Haringey council acted reasonably in dismissing Maria Ward and Gillie Christou. Full story: The Guardian.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Consequential, Transitional and Saving Provisions) Regulations 2013
These Regulations make transitional and saving provisions, and consequential amendments to secondary legislation, in connection with the replacement of the legal aid scheme under Part 1 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 by the provisions of Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

The Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) Regulations 2013
These Regulations make provision about the payment by the Lord Chancellor to persons who provide civil legal services under arrangements made for the purposes of Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

The Family Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2013
These rules amend the Family Procedure Rules 2010 by—
  • changing references to certain rules in the Civil Procedure Rules 1998(4) to reflect re-numbering of some of those rules;
  • in Part 30 (appeals), giving High Court Judges and Designated Family Judges power when refusing permission to appeal without a hearing, where the application is considered to be totally without merit, to make an order that the person seeking permission may not request the decision to be reconsidered at a hearing.
T (A Child: Article 15 of B2R), Re [2013] EWHC 521 (Fam) (13 March 2013)
Care proceedings involving Slovakian mother. Slovakian Authority sought transfer to Slovakian court. Request issued that Slovakian court assumes jurisdiction. Full report: Bailii.

LA (A Child), Re [2013] EWHC 578 (Fam) (15 March 2013)
Application by local authority for permission to remove a child the subject of a placement order from the UK to live in the USA. Permission granted. Full report: Bailii.

AB & Anor, R (on the application of) v The London Borough of Haringey [2013] EWHC 416 (Admin) (13 March 2013)
Judicial review concerned with whether a decision was taken to undertake an enquiry pursuant to section 47 of the Children Act and, if it was, whether that decision should be set aside as being unlawful, unreasonable or irrational. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story above, and the blog posts, below.

L (A Child), Re [2013] EWCA Civ 179 (13 March 2013)
Appeal against interim care order. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii. See also the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

T (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 128 (23 January 2013)
Application by father for permission to appeal against care and placement orders, on the basis that the judge was biased against him. Application refused. Full report: Bailii.

Mohan v Mohan [2013] EWCA Civ 138 (31 January 2013)
Appeal by wife in proceedings issued by her in relation to the enforcement of a lump sum order. Full report: Bailii.

M (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 132 (17 January 2013)
Care proceedings. Appeals by parents against dismissal of applications to vary no contact order. Appeals dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

P (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 124 (06 February 2013)
Application by father for permission to appeal care and placement orders. Application adjourned. Full report: Bailii.

L (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 123 (16 January 2013)
Application for permission to appeal by grandmother against contact order, where care proceedings subsequently issued. Application refused. Full report: Bailii.

L (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 122 (22 January 2013)
Application by mother in children proceedings for disclosure of the file of the father's previous solicitors. Application granted. Full report: Bailii.

D (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 120 (16 January 2012)
Application by mother for permission to appeal non-molestation order made in favour of son. Application refused. Full report: Bailii.

A London Borough v M [2012] (4 May 2012)
Care application involving findings as to the cause of fractures sustained by the child. The judge was unable to find that any of the fractures occurred as a result of non accidental injury, and accordingly the application was dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

Evans v Evans [2013] EWHC 506 (Fam) (13 March 2013)
Judgment in financial remedy proceedings involving, inter alia, the issue of the division of shares in a private company. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story, above.

H (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 148 (23 January 2013)
Application for permission to appeal dismissal of mother's application for the summary return of her daughter to Mexico. Permission granted but appeal dismissed. Full report: Family Law Hub.

KS v ND (Schedule 1: Appeal: Costs) [2013] EWHC 464 (Fam) (12 March 2013)
Schedule 1 Children Act proceedings. Appeal in respect of school fees award and costs decision. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii. See also my blog post, below.

Facilitating the Return of Abducted Children - The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
Esther Lieu, a Pupil at Coram Chambers, and Adam Weiss, Legal Director, The AIRE Centre, explain the ECtHR's recent decision in Raw v France which considered, amongst other matters, the enforcement of court orders and the circumstances in which a parent could represent their children in Strasbourg proceedings. Full article: Family Law Week.

The Cost of Care……The position following the Tower Hamlets decision
Jacqui Thomas, barrister of 37 Park Square Chambers, Leeds, considers the implications of the recent Tower Hamlets judgment for the cost of kinship care. Full article: Family Law Week.

A new family court
"In all the excitement over Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 last year, and the Children and Families Bill this year, many family lawyers have overlooked the fact - trailed by a recommendation for a ‘single family court' in Family Justice Review - that in Crime and Courts Bill cl 16(3) and Sch 10 there is the statutory embodiment of what the Government intend for the recommendation." Says David Burrows, in this article on Family Law.

Family law arbitration wins
"Does this ring a bell? You sit opposite a client whose face gradually lengthens, whose mouth drops and whose eyes widen in dismay and disbelief as you describe how long it takes to bring matrimonial financial issues to a conclusion through the court litigation process." Asks Dennis Sheridan, in this article in the Law Society Gazette.

Data-gathering: damned if we do, damned if we don’t?
Part 1 of a discussion of AB & Anor, R (on the application of) v The London Borough of Haringey [2013] EWHC 416 (Admin) [above]. Full post: The Not So Big Society.

Quashing the child protection investigation: self-serving or breaching the dam?
Part 2 of a discussion of AB & Anor, R (on the application of) v The London Borough of Haringey [2013] EWHC 416 (Admin) [above]. Full post: The Not So Big Society.

“Ex parte removal by the back door”
A discussion of the Court of Appeal decision in Re L (A Child) 2013. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

KS v ND (Schedule 1: Appeal: Costs): The madness of reckless litigation
KS v ND (Schedule 1: Appeal: Costs) [2013] EWHC 464 (Fam) [above] is yet another salutary tale of of the costs consequences of "reckless and foolhardy" litigation. Full post: Family Lore.

Monday, March 18, 2013

News Podcast: For the week to the 18th of March 2013

A summary of the most important family law news stories and cases from the last week, in the usual short, easy-to-listen, format.

(If you can't see the audio player above, try refreshing your browser. Alternatively, you can listen to the podcast here.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Something for the Weekend: Ten Years After - Good Morning Little Schoolgirl

As a tribute to Alvin Lee who sadly passed away last week, here he is with Ten Years After playing a great version of one of my favourite blues numbers, at the Marquee in 1983:

Friday, March 15, 2013

THE RAINMAKER: Chapter 4 - Proceedings Are Issued

AT THE OFFICES of Messrs. Amber, Lance & Chaser, Solicitors, Ebenezer is telling Sly Amber all about his new case.

"Possible brain damage, eh?" Says Sly, imaginary cash registers ringing in his head (Amber, Lance & Chaser will receive 10% of any damages awarded).

"Oh, I'm sure of it." Lied Ebenezer, eager to impress.

"Liability has been denied, of course?" Asked Sly.

"Yes." Replied Ebenezer. "They say our client's car reversed into theirs."

"A likely story." Said Sly, even though he had heard it done many times - he didn't want to shatter the youthful idealism of his new recruit. "Who are the insurers?" He asked.

"A company called 'No Benefit'." Replied Ebenezer.

"No Benefit, eh?" Said Sly thoughtfully.

"Yes." Said Ebenezer. "Is that a problem?"

"No." Said Sly reassuringly. "But you'll have to watch their lawyers, Shark, Finn & Co. Nasty bunch. And once they get wind of the possible size of our claim, the case will be taken on by their Senior Partner, Jack "Jaws" Shark."

"Jack "Jaws" Shark?" Said Ebenezer nervously.

"Yeah, Jaws Shark is the most ruthless lawyer you're likely to come across in your entire career. He would push his own mother under a bus if it meant a successful damages claim."

Ebenezer gulped.

"Still, I can handle him." Said Sly. "You just get down to the court and get this claim issued."

"Will do, Mr Amber." Said Ebenezer.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Family Lore Clinic: What do I do after I dispense with service of the divorce petition?

If you wish to take divorce proceedings then you will normally have to serve the divorce petition upon your spouse. However, if you do not know their whereabouts (having made reasonable efforts to find them) then you can request the court to dispense with service.

The procedure on a request to dispense with service is to complete a statement in support of the request and file it with the court, along with the requisite fee. You can find a statement here, together with notes for guidance.

If the court grants the request, then you can simply proceed with the divorce as if it were undefended, i.e. apply for the decree nisi. For information upon how to do that, see this leaflet, prepared by the Courts Service.

Obviously, if you do not know the whereabouts of your spouse, then you would not be able to divorce them on the basis of two years' separation, as that would require their consent.

(If you require more details or specific advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

KS v ND (Schedule 1: Appeal: Costs): The madness of reckless litigation

Mr Justice Mostyn
KS v ND (Schedule 1: Appeal: Costs) [2013] EWHC 464 (Fam) is yet another salutary tale of of the costs consequences of "reckless and foolhardy" litigation.

The case involved an appeal in Schedule 1 Children Act proceedings where the child is now 17. Thus, as Mr Justice Mostyn pointed out, the parties were only arguing about the cost of keeping and educating their son in sixth form and at university.

Notwithstanding this (and the plea of Baron J, who granted permission to appeal, to settle the case), the parties managed to run up legal costs of about £125,000, a figure which completely dwarfs the sums they were arguing about. As Mr Justice Mostyn wearily lamented:
"Time and again judges point out the madness of litigating in this way; and time and again their admonitions fall on deaf ears. At the end of the day all we can do is to express concern about such extreme folly, and if it is ignored then the parties will have to live with, and take responsibility for, the consequences of their decisions."
The consequences here were described by Mr Justice Mostyn as "calamitous for both parties".

Briefly, the appeal concerned an order varying an earlier order made in 2005. The mother was not happy with the varied order, and sought permission to appeal. Mrs Justice Baron granted permission, but only in respect of a school fees award and the decision that there should be no order as to costs.

I will not discuss regarding the appeal in respect of the school fees award, save to say that it was dismissed. The costs appeal is perhaps more interesting, particularly as Schedule 1 proceedings are excepted from the "general rule of no order as to costs principle" that applies to almost all family financial proceedings.

It was argued on behalf of the mother that she should have been awarded costs in the light of 3 factors:
1) She was the effective winner;

2) The father was guilty of litigation misconduct; and

3) The economic impact on her is such that she must have all or part of the costs met.
In respect of these factors Mr Justice Mostyn found:
1) It was not clear that the mother had "won" the case - indeed, an "objective analysis would suggest that overall the father was rather more successful than the mother".
2) The only 'litigation misconduct' by the father occurred prior to the issue of proceedings, but this had no direct causal connection to the later generation of costs.
3) The mother's argument on economic impact did not have merit "since the parties find themselves in a comparably disastrous position".
Accordingly, the mother's appeal on costs was also dismissed.

As a (slightly ironic) footnote, the father sought the costs of the appeal. Mr Justice Mostyn stated that in his judgment on any financial remedy appeal, including an appeal in Schedule 1 proceedings, costs should prima facie follow the event, and he found no reason why the father should not have his costs. Accordingly, he awarded him £13,000, although as an "act of mercy" to the mother he ordered that this should be paid in 26 monthly instalments of £500, which would be deducted from the maintenance paid by the father.

News Update: 12th of March 2013

WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

Child neglect danger 'underestimated'
Child neglect should be taken as seriously as physical or sexual abuse because some cases will lead to death or long-term damage, a charity is warning. Full story: BBC News.

Care applications continued their upward trend in February
In February 2013, Cafcass received a total of 991 applications. This is an 11.5% increase on February 2012. See the statistics here. Full story: Family Law Week.

Foster care pay policy 'unlawful' at Tower Hamlets
A London council's policy on payments to foster carers is unlawful, a High Court judge has ruled. Full story: BBC News. See also the law report, below.

Appeal judge redefines ‘futile treatment’
Doctors should be allowed to withhold life-sustaining treatment where it would be “futile” to continue it, according to a new test laid down by a senior appeal judge earlier this week. Full story: Solicitors Journal.

Grayling rides to rescue of RCJ advice centre
The Ministry of Justice today announced that it will fund the family law service provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau at the Royal Courts of Justice - after its grant was removed by the Legal Services Commission as part of the ministry’s cuts. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Domestic violence figures are disturbingly high, says charity
Citizens Advice says it received reports of attacks from 13,500 people – 80% of them women – in 2012. Full story: The Guardian.

Social workers arrived to seize baby in labour ward
A mother has been reunited with the baby who was taken away from her by social workers who turned up unannounced at her bedside while she was in labour after an administrative oversight. Full story: The Telegraph.

Adoption push could break up families unnecessarily, peers warn
Michael Gove’s drive to increase adoption rates could end up unnecessarily breaking up families, peers have warned. Full story: The Telegraph.

Ministers urged to exempt foster carers from 'bedroom tax'
Leaders of 11 children's charities say new rules will make it more difficult for people in social housing to become foster carers. Full story: The Guardian.

Independent fostering providers plead for greater autonomy
Plans to allow councils to delegate provision of children's social services to staff-led mutuals should be extended to cover independent fostering providers, the government has been told. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Master of the Rolls' Practice Guidance of March 2013: Terminology for Litigants in Person
The Master of the Rolls has issued guidance as to the terminology that should be used to describe individuals who conduct legal proceedings on their own behalf.

X, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Tower Hamlets [2013] EWHC 480 (Admin) (08 March 2013)
Declaration that a local authority's policy on payments to foster carers is unlawful in that they discriminate on the grounds of pre-existing relationship with the child between family and unrelated foster carers. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story, above.

AC v DC & Ors (Financial Remedy: Effect of s37 Avoidance Order) (No 1) [2012] EWHC 2032 (Fam) (19 July 2012)
Judgment setting aside various financial transactions, and considering whether the effect of a "set aside" is to operate retrospectively for all legal (including fiscal) purposes. Full report: Bailii.

A & B (Parental Order Domicile), Re [2013] EWHC 426 (Fam) (14 February 2013)
Application for a parental order concerning a child born to a surrogate mother based in India. parental order made. Full report: Bailii.

AC v DC & Ors (No 2) [2012] EWHC 2420 (Fam) (29 August 2012)
Financial remedies application by the wife, where the husband was suffering from a terminal illness. Full report: Bailii.

AJ (a child), Re [2012] EWHC 3353 (Fam) (21 June 2012)
Application pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction for a declaration recognising the validity of a foreign adoption order. Declaration made as sought. Full report: Bailii.

TF v FF [2013] EWHC 390 (Fam) (26 February 2013)
Application by wife for permission to appeal a financial remedy order. Permission granted, but only in respect of maintenance provision. Full report: Bailii. See also my post, below.

ML v KW & Anor [2013] EWHC 341 (Fam) (22 February 2013)
Wardship and contact proceedings, in which the father seeks contact. Fact-finding hearing in respect of allegations made by the mother against the father and his family. Full report: Bailii.

Re C-G (Contact Order: Staying Contact with Father) [2013] EWCA (27 February 2013)
Appeal against order for staying contact where the judge had failed to recognise the change of stance of the Cafcass officer. Appeal allowed. Report: Family Law.

The Children and Families Bill could undermine gender stereotypes
"On 25 February, MPs passed the new Children and Families Bill at its second reading in the House of Commons. The bill extends the statutory rights – in employment and family law – that both parents have in their children’s upbringing." Full article: Law Society Gazette.

Modern divorce is a sad comedy
"Introduce no-fault divorce now and remedy the shabby state of affairs caused by craven politicians", says Philippa Dolan in this article in The Lawyer.

Address by the President, Sir James Munby, at the Annual Dinner of the FLBA
This is the text of a speech delivered on 22 February 2013 at Middle Temple Hall.

Evidence, Practice and Procedure: Judicial change of mind
"Generally, once a judge has made a decision, the court draws up and seals the order. Subject to any appeal and enforcement that is an end of the matter. It is not quite as simple as that says the Supreme Court in Re L and B (Children) [2013] UKSC 8." says David Burrows in this article on Family Law.

Evidence, Practice and Procedure: Uncertain control of interim applications at PRFD
"Anarchy is too strong a word for it; but so far as anarchy means without rule (‘archy' comes from classical Greek arkhia meaning rule) it begins to apply. In S v M (Maintenance Pending Suit) [2012] EWHC 4109 (Fam) Coleridge J heard two appeals, in the same case, where district judges in the Principal Registry had made orders which seem to have overlooked the law (in certain important respects) and to have paid little regard to the relevant facts." says David Burrows in this article on Family Law.

Children and same sex families: known biological fathers and contact: the decision in S v D and E / T v X and Y [2013] EWHC
"Where do parents and prospective parents stand after the very recent decision in the case of S v D and E?" Asks Marisa Allman, in this article from Zenith Chambers.

Finance and Divorce March 2013 Update
Anna Heenan, solicitor and David Salter, Joint Head of Family Law at Mills & Reeve LLP analyse February’s financial remedies and divorce news and cases, in this article on Family Law Week.

A little help from my McKenzie Friend – might be frowned upon
"I revisited the case of Re H (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 1797 recently, having read a blog post about it on Suesspicious Minds entitled Oh Lord, won’t you buy me, a McKenzie Friend?" Says Lucy Reed in this post on Pink Tape.

Case Comment – In the Matter of J (Children) [2013] UKSC 9
"On 20 February 2013 the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the matter of J (Children)." Full post: UKSC blog.

Case Comment: Re L and B (Children) [2013] UKSC 8
"This case concerned a judge’s power to reverse his/her decision before an order has been perfected." Full post: UKSC blog.

French authorities failed British mother in Cross-Channel custody dispute
"The European Court of Human Rights found today that the French authorities had failed to have sufficient respect for the family life of a British mother and her two children." Says Duncan Ranton in this post on Family Matters.

TF v FF: Discouraging profligate waste of costs
"As Mr Justice Jackson said when he began his brief judgment, his decision in TF v FF [2013] EWHC 390 (Fam) [above] contains a somewhat novel element." Full post: Family Lore.

Monday, March 11, 2013

News Podcast: For the week to the 11th of March 2013

A summary of the most important family law news stories from the last week, in the usual short but still (hopefully) easy-to-listen format.

(If you can't see the audio player above, try refreshing your browser. Alternatively, you can listen to the podcast here.)

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Something for the Weekend: Peter Cook's biased judge sketch

I know this has appeared previously on at least one other legal blog (and probably many more), but it is well worth watching again. For those who don't know or can't remember the background to the sketch, see this video.

Friday, March 08, 2013

THE RAINMAKER: Chapter 3 - The Tout

ST. CARELESS could never be called a 'flagship' NHS hospital. With its Victorian buildings, it looked more akin to a workhouse than a modern medical care establishment.

Ebenezer felt a shudder go down his spine as he entered the hospital's dismal reception area. Along the walls were rows of grubby chairs occupied by equally grubby patients.

At the desk, a forbidding middle-aged woman glared up at him as if he shouldn't be there. "What do you want?" She growled.

Ebenezer hesitated. "I, er... have been told to meet Dr Backhander. I'm from Amber, Lance & Chaser, solicitors." He said.

The woman's expression turned to disdain. "I'll tell him you're here."

£            £            £

Dr Backhander was a thin weaselly man with short greasy hair and pale skin. His white coat was covered in stains, the origin of which Ebenezer thought it best not to know.

"I think I have just the thing for you." He said, glancing around furtively. "Just came into A & E. Whiplash case, with possible brain damage. Dead cert for an insurance claim - should be worth a few bob."

Dr Backhander took Ebenezer into A & E, pointed at a scruffy youth wearing a neck brace, glanced around furtively again, and then promptly left.

Ebenezer looked at the youth. "What's your name? He asked.

"Victor," the youth replied, "Victor Timm. People call me 'Vic'."

Ebenezer looked at Vic suspiciously. "And what happened to you?" He asked.

Vic then explained how he had been driving home from the unemployment office, minding his own business, when he was hit from behind by another car, giving him whiplash.

Ebenezer couldn't help noticing that Vic was, well, a little slow-witted. Could he have suffered brain damage as a result of the accident?

Ebenezer felt his heart begin to race at the prospect of a large claim for damages. That could pay off his loans, he thought.

Fun times ahead at the PRFD?

I have received information regarding the future of the Principal Registry, and it makes grim reading. The facts, as given to a meeting of the First Avenue House Advisory Group on the 5th of March include the following:

  • The Central London County Court will be moving into the Thomas More Building. The Court of Protection which is currently in that building will be moving to First Avenue House and will require one and a half floors to provide three courts and six Chambers. This will be on the fifth floor and half of the seventh floor.
  • The probate department will not be moving out of First Avenue House but will be compressed as there is wasted space in their department.
  • Court 80 on the ground floor of First Avenue House which is currently a very large courtroom mainly used for enquiries will be converted into three new courtrooms.
  • The number of family courts available in First Avenue House will be a total of 25. This compares with the current court numbers of 25 at First Avenue House and 7 at Wells Street (as we already know, the Inner London and City Family Proceedings Court at Wells Street is to close, with its seven courts being absorbed into the Principal Registry).
  • The rationale behind this reduction is that there will be a new East London Family Court, which will provide 10 extra courtrooms, and there will be a new allocation policy "so that the work that should be heard away from Central London can be".

    So, unless the new East London court is ready and the allocation policy is implemented before the changes to the PRFD are carried out, 25 courts will have to do the work of 32.

    But that is not the end of the good news. In fact, it is not the worst of it, as the meeting was also told that the number of district judges at the Registry is to be reduced from 20 to 12 (or even fewer).

    And all of this as:
    (a) Courts are being urged to deal with matters more quickly; and
    (b) The courts are about to be inundated with 'litigants in person' (not 'self-represented litigants'), with the abolition of legal aid for most private family law matters on the 1st of April.
    I think it's called 'planning'.

    Thursday, March 07, 2013

    @familylaw: Six thousand followers can't be wrong...

    ...well, maybe they can, but at least the followers of my @familylaw Twitter feed are keeping up with all the latest happenings in the world of family law, and there are now six thousand of them!

    For those who don't already know (where have you been?), @familylaw feeds all news items, cases and articles from Family Lore Focus on to Twitter, thereby providing a convenient way to stay up to date.

    You can also keep up to date by subscribing to the free weekly Family Lore Focus Newsletter here - all that is required is your name and email address (a link to the Newsletter appears every Monday on the Twitter feed).

    To recap, Family Lore Focus is essentially a site that aggregates freely available family law content from the web, including news, cases, legislation, articles and blogs. Regularly throughout the day I check every source that I am aware of including family law sites, general law sites, blogs, newspapers, Bailii and many others, and post links to items of interest. The most recent links can be found on the front page of Family Lore Focus, and older ones on the relevant blogs: Family Lore News, Family Lore Case Digest, Family Lore Articles, and Family Lore Blogs.

    If you would like to advertise on Family Lore Focus, the blogs or the Newsletter, then email me.

    [Post again blatantly copied from earlier ones, with minor amendments.] 

    Wednesday, March 06, 2013

    TF v FF: Discouraging profligate waste of costs

    Mr Justice Jackson
    As Mr Justice Jackson said when he began his brief judgment, his decision in TF v FF [2013] EWHC 390 (Fam) contains a somewhat novel element.

    It should have been a fairly run-of-the-mill financial remedy case involving modest assets. However, those assets were made substantially more modest by the parties' legal costs, which totalled over £150,000 at the time of the final hearing, the husband having spent £93,000 and the wife £60,000. This "reflected a large number of attritional interlocutory hearings", for which the judge held the wife largely responsible.

    In fact, the judge found the wife's litigation conduct inequitable to disregard, and allowed the husband to draw his higher legal costs from the common pool while requiring the wife's lower costs to be assessed before they were taken into account.

    I don't need to go into the detail of what was ordered, or of the wife's application for permission to appeal, save to say that the application was granted, but only in respect of the maintenance element of the order. What was novel was that Mr Justice Jackson attached a condition to the permission that the amount of legal costs that are to be recoverable from the other party in relation to the appeal itself shall not exceed £5000 on either side. He said:
    "In my view, the court has a responsibility to discourage profligate waste of costs, particularly in a case with a track record like this. It is a matter for each party to decide what they want to spend, but they cannot expect it to be recoverable if it exceeds that threshold."
    This condition was attached despite the fact that the wife had already spent £12,500 on the application, which Mr Justice Jackson described as "a sum that is completely disproportionate to the issues in the case". Accordingly, the wife already had unrecoverable costs, even if she obtains an award of £5000 + VAT at the end of the proceedings, to which Mr Justice Jackson remarked: "If that is what it takes to prevent what the district judge described as a haemorrhaging of money, so be it."

    Family Lore Clinic: I have a child maintenance consent order but the father is not paying

    The courts can still make child maintenance orders where the parents agree, but what can the receiving parent do when the other parent stops paying?

    If the order is less than a year old, the receiving parent will have to ask the court to take enforcement action against the paying parent. There are various different types of enforcement action that can be taken, but the most common is attachment of earnings, whereby the payer's employer deducts the maintenance from their pay, although this would obviously not be available if the payer was self-employed.

    If the order is more than a year old, then a further possibility arises. The parent who should be receiving maintenance can apply to the Child Support Agency for a maintenance assessment, irrespective of the fact that the order was agreed. The assessment will then replace the order, and if it is not paid enforcement action will be taken by the Agency (note that the Agency could not enforce payment of any arrears under the court order, which would still have to be enforced through the court).

    (As usual, if you require more details or specific advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.)

    Tuesday, March 05, 2013

    News Update: 5th of March 2013

    WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

    Lord Neuberger, UK's most senior judge, voices legal aid fears
    The president of the UK Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, has said he fears cuts to legal aid could undermine the rule of law. He told the BBC: "My worry is the removal of legal aid for people to get advice about law and get representation in court will start to undermine the rule of law because people will feel like the government isn't giving them access to justice in all sorts of cases." Pretty obvious really, but the government isn't listening. Full story: BBC News.

    Forced Marriage Unit helped 250 children last year
    At least 250 children in the UK were helped by a unit set up to tackle forced marriages last year, with the youngest case involving a two-year-old. Full story: BBC News.

    Battle for tycoon's assets threatens UK's title as divorce capital of the world
    Landmark case in supreme court will decide whether spouses can protect assets by citing company law. The Prest appeal - being heard today and tomorrow. Full story: The Guardian. See also the Law Society Gazette article, below.

    Children in gay adoptions at no disadvantage
    Fears that children adopted by gay and lesbian couples do less well in life are completely unfounded, according to the first study into how children and parents in non-traditional families fare compared with heterosexual households. Will not make good reading in some quarters... Full story: The Independent.

    Open up family court hearings, says senior judge
    A senior judge [Mr Justice Mostyn] has made an important ruling in favour of transparency in the family courts. Full story: The Telegraph. See also the post by Pink Tape, below.

    Children’s Commissioner raises concerns about Children and Families Bill
    The Office of the Children's Commissioner has published a child rights impact assessment of Parts 1 – 3 of the Children and Families Bill. Full story: Family Law Week.

    Children and Families Bill passes its second reading
    MPs debated the second reading of the Children and Families Bill in the House of Commons on Monday, 25th February 2013. The Bill was passed without a division and will now be considered by a Public Bill Committee. Full story: Family Law Week.

    Divorce-related legal complaints most common
    Family law accounted for the highest number of complaints dealt with by the Legal Ombudsman last year, a report published today reveals. Full story: Law Society Gazette. See also this post.

    Justice ministry under pressure to curb attacks on family court judges
    Judges dealing with sensitive issues – including child custody – in the family courts have had hate mail sent to their homes, been physically attacked and been victims of attempted assaults in court buildings, according to information obtained by the Guardian.

    Five specialist family lawyers appointed Queen’s Counsel
    84 new appointments as Queen's Counsel, from 183 applicants, were announced on Wednesday 27 February 2013. Full story: Family Law Week.

    US court rules against Scottish mother in bitter transatlantic custody row
    A six-year-old British girl is a step closer to being sent to live in Alabama after the US Supreme Court ruled against her Scottish mother in a bitter transatlantic custody battle that could set a landmark precedent for future cases. Full story: The Telegraph.

    Council launches drive to recruit 'resilience foster carers' for troubled teenagers
    Former police and prison officers are being urged to become “resilience foster carers” offering homes to the most challenging looked-after teenagers, as part of a Staffordshire County Council campaign. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

    GB v RNB [2013] EWHC 414 (Fam) (27 February 2013)
    Appeal by mother against registration of a Romanian court order granting the care of the child to the father until proceedings in Romania were finalised. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

    Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v James & Ors [2013] EWCA Civ 65 (01 March 2013)
    Appeal against refusal to make declarations that it would be lawful to withhold medical treatment from a man lacking capacity. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

    S (A Child) [2012] EWCA Civ 1915 (11 September 2013)
    Interim removal from family member following adjournment of fostering panel decision for approval. Findings made by Recorder unsupported by evidence. Child remained in placement under IRO and ISO. Full report: Family Law Week.

    Y-M (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 143 (22 January 2013)
    Appeal in contact proceedings relating to the issue of whether the father should attend an anger management programme. Appeal allowed and remitted to the lower court. Full report: Family Law Hub.

    Y (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 129 (22 January 2013)
    Application for permission to appeal in relation to an order for the return of the child to Cyprus. Application granted. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Family Law Hub.

    L (Children) [2012] EWCA Civ 1923 (15 November 2012)
    Applications by mother for permission to appeal against various orders made in contact proceedings, including a finding that allegations of abuse by the father were not established. Applications refused. Full report: Family Law Hub.

    Re T (Care Proceedings: Drug Testing) [2012] EWHC 4081 (Fam) (10 February 2012)
    Care proceedings in which the father sought to challenge the result of drug tests. Report: Family Law.

    G v P [2013] EWCC
    Application in the county court under Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, s 33 for an order for repayment of overpaid maintenance. Consideration as to whether an order must be ‘subsisting for the purposes of the section. Application granted. Full report: Family Law Week.

    A London Borough v A & Ors [2012] EWHC 2203 (Fam) (27 July 2012)
    Care proceedings in which the mother sought a postponement of the decision about the children's future to enable her to start on a course of therapy, so that the children might be safely returned to her sole care. Full report: Bailii.

    Re W (Parental Responsibility Order: Inter-relationship with Direct Contact) [2013] EWCA (20 February 2013)
    Father's appeal against refusal of contact and parental responsibility applications. Appeal relating to contact dismissed, but appeal relating to parental responsibility allowed. Report: Family Law.

    KAC v DJC [2013] EWHC 292 (Fam) (21 February 2013)
    Mother's application to relocate the children to Australia, after she had previously abducted them there. Application granted. Full report: Bailii. See also my post, below.

    “Can’t We Make the Local Authority Pay for It?”
    Andrew Pack, care lawyer with Brighton & Hove City Council, considers the court’s powers to compel a local authority to meet the costs of a particular action, in this article on Family Law Week.

    Repatriation of EU family law powers, Part IV
    David Hodson concludes his series examining areas where family law powers taken by the EU could (and should) pass back to the UK and other member states. Full article: Family Law.

    Future financial remedy proceedings
    "The recent decision of the Court of Appeal in the Petrodel Resources Ltd v Prest [2012] EWCA Civ 1395, shocked the family law world. It has left many concerned about the potential effects it may have on future financial remedy proceedings, and some adamant that it has provided moneymakers with an easy way to protect their assets from their former spouses." Says Sarah Foreman in this article in the Law Society Gazette.

    Burial of a Child’s Remains – resolving parental disputes
    Maeve O’Rourke, pupil barrister, of 4 Paper Buildings and Gwen Williams, Partner, Goodman Ray offer advice where parents are in dispute over where or how to dispose of their child’s remains, in this article on Family Law Week.

    “To lose on a case once in the Court of Appeal may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose three times on the same case looks like carelessness”
    The misadventures of the LA in the case of Re B (2012) (the Slovakian grandmother case). Full post: suesspiciousminds.

    See Through Justice
    Lucy Reed explains how transparency is edging closer, in this post on Pink Tape.

    Keep feeling FAScination, or Bolt-On Wanderers
    "If you do any advocacy in family proceedings, you will be familiar with the FAS form (the Family Advocacy Scheme) that the advocate has to hand in to the Court to have stamped, in order to get paid for their work" says suesspiciousminds.

    What does “exceptional” mean in a post-LASPO world?
    "Some have speculated that once LASPO 2012 has been implemented on 1 April and pretty much everything falls out of scope there will be plenty of – erm – scope – for applications under the “exceptional cases” provisions" says Lucy Reed. Full post: Pink Tape.

    TC and JC (Children: Relocation): The presently governing principles of relocation
    A summary of TC v JC (Children: Relocation) [2013] EWHC 292 (Fam) [also known as KAC v DJC, above] , decided on the 21st of February. Full post: Family Lore.

    Monday, March 04, 2013

    News Podcast: For the week to the 4th of March 2013

    A summary of the most important family law news stories and cases from the last week, in the usual short but still (hopefully) easy-to-listen format.

    (If you can't see the audio player above, try refreshing your browser. Alternatively, you can listen to the podcast here.)

    Saturday, March 02, 2013

    You, too, can be outraged by Edgar Venal

    Outraged of Tunbridge Wells
    Edgar Venal has been a regular contributor to Twitter since he joined that esteemed organisation three and a half months ago.

    During that time, he has made quite a few friends, obviously anxious to glean what they can from his many years experience of being the country's top family lawyer.

    However, not everyone has been prepared to accept the word of the Master, and some have even had the temerity to unfollow him (a couple of feeble souls have even blocked him!). Only today, a certain barrister who shall not be named took exception to one of Edgar's pearls of wisdom and foolishly clicked the 'Unfollow' button. It is her loss (particularly as Edgar levies a charge for those who unfollow him).

    Of course, if you are made of sterner stuff, then you can follow the Great Man, here.

    Something for the Weekend: Joni Mitchell - Hejira

    I know - no one's going to show me everything
    We all come and go unknown
    Each so deep and superficial
    Between the forceps and the stone

    Friday, March 01, 2013

    THE RAINMAKER: Chapter 2 - The Interview

    AT THE OFFICES of Messrs. Amber, Lance & Chaser, solicitors, Ebenezer Grabbit is being interviewed by Senior Partner Sylvester "Sly" Amber.

    "So what made you want to be a lawyer, lad?" Asks Sly.

    "Well," replies Ebenezer, "I've always wanted to help people - you know, protect the innocent, stand up for the little man, defend the children of the poor, that sort of thing."

    Sly is distinctly unimpressed. "Oh really?" He says, with a sigh.

    "Yes," continues Ebenezer eagerly, "I think a good lawyer can make a real difference!"

    "He can?" Asks Sly, rapidly losing interest.

    "Oh yes," says Ebenezer enthusiastically, "I want to become the best lawyer I can, and if you give me the chance, I'm willing to work all hours to achieve that!"

    Sly's interest suddenly returns. "ALL hours?" He asks.

    "Oh yes," replies Ebenezer in earnest, "and I don't mind how much you pay me - I just need the chance!"

    Sly raises an eyebrow. "You... don't mind how much I pay you?" He says with a smile.

    "As I say, I just want to be given a chance." Says Ebenezer.

    "Then I will give you a chance!" Declares Sly. "You can start work immediately!"

    "Oh, thank you!" Exclaims Ebenezer.

    "I'll pay you the basic minimum wage, plus you'll get 10% of all fees you earn." Says Sly.

    "Sounds good." Replies Ebenezer, grateful just to get proper job to pay off his loans.

    "Of course," says Sly, "you will need to bring in business to pay your way."

    "Of course," replies Ebenezer, "how do I do that?"

    "Well, a good start would be a trip down to the hospital, St. Careless, to see if there are any personal injury cases there that need our, er... help." Says Sly.

    "Oh." Says Ebenezer. "Of course."