News Update: 7th of May 2013

WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

Family court 'delays' on care decisions cut
The time it takes for the family courts to make decisions about whether children should be taken in to care or adopted has been cut. Full story: BBC News.

BLP wins as CoA looks to Russian law in key matrimonial case
Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has successfully fought off a attempt by a Russian businessman and former politician to use English law in a dispute over the ownership of a London property with his ex-wife. The Slutsker case - see below. Full story: The Lawyer.

No one should be jailed in secret, says top judge
Lord chief justice issues urgent guidance [see below] to judges following court of protection's imprisonment of Wanda Maddocks. Full story: The Guardian.

DfE backs domestic abuse projects
Children and young people affected by domestic abuse are to be given support through new projects backed by the Department for Education. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

New 'Passport to support' for adopters
From today, adopters will be able to see exactly what support is available for them and their child with the new ‘Adoption Passport: a support guide for adopters’. Full story: GOV.UK. See also this post.

Post adoption support: a rapid response survey of local authorities in England
Study published looking at how post adoption support teams and services are structured and to identify barriers to effective provision. Full story: GOV.UK.

Council failed to safeguard children, finds Ombudsman
Compensation of £10,000 recommended for failings in handling complex neglect case. Full story: Family Law Week.

Court of Protection openness call by justice secretary
The justice secretary has asked a senior judge to consider whether the court dealing with the affairs of mentally incapable people in England and Wales can become more open. Full story: BBC News.

Society endorses ‘a la carte’ advice – but warns of risks
"Family lawyers offering ‘pay as you go’ legal services are warned of the risks they carry and how to avoid them in a practice note [see below] published today by the Law Society." Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Increase in cross-border cases, according to Lord Justice Thorpe
The number of cross-border family legal disputes have grown by tenfold in a decade and more than doubled in two years, according to the annual report of the Office of the Head of International Family Justice. Full story: Family Law.

England's failing care system needs urgent reform, finds inquiry
Leading charities recommend fresh approach to care reform, backed by children’s services directors. Full story: Community Care. See also the BASW blog post, below.

Why an ex in the city gets a better divorce settlement than wives in the provinces
Wives living in small towns and villages get worse divorce settlements than those who split in big cities, according to new research. Full story: Daily Mail.

President gives guidance on urgent appeals in adoption cases
In C (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 431, the President of the Family Division has given guidance to the profession concerning urgent appeals in adoption cases. Full story: Family Law Week.

Council pays five-figure sum to settle 'failure to remove' case
A local authority has settled a case where the claimant alleged that it had repeatedly failed to take her into care when she was young. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

Committal for Contempt of Court Practice Guidance
Guidance issued by Lord Judge, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division and President of the Court of Protection. Practice Guidance: Bailii. See also the news story above.

Unbundling family legal services
Practice note for family practitioners who want to offer unbundled (ie partial retainer) legal services to their clients. Practice Note: The Law Society. See also the news story above.

L (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 489 (03 May 2013)
Appeal against interim care order. Appeal allowed and interim supervision order substituted. Full report: Bailii.

Slutsker v Haron [2013] EWCA Civ 430 (1 May 2013)
Dispute between a Russian husband and wife, where the husband argued that a half share of the beneficial interest in a multi-million pound London property was held on trust for him absolutely, whilst the wife argued that the whole of the beneficial interest was held by the first respondent on trust for the second respondent. Full report: Family Law Hub. See also the news story above.

T, R (on the application of) v Legal Aid Agency & Ors [2013] EWHC 960 (Admin) (26 April 2013)
Application for judicial review of decision of Legal Aid Agency in respect of funding for an expert report. Full report: Bailii. See also the article and two blog posts, below.

SCC v LM & Ors [2013] EWHC 1137 (COP) (12 April 2012)
Judgment regarding the care of a 79 year-old man suffering from Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Full report: Bailii.

Yordanova v Iordanov [2013] EWCA Civ 464 (10 April 2013)
Application by husband for permission to appeal against dismissal of application to strike out divorce petition, on the basis that the parties were already divorced in Bulgaria. Application dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

PC & Anor v City of York Council [2013] EWCA Civ 478 (01 May 2013)
Appeal against decision that married woman lacked capacity to decide to cohabit with her husband. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

LB v London Borough of Merton & Anor [2013] EWCA Civ 476 (01 May 2013)
Appeal against dismissal of mother's appeal against placement order. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

S v S [2013] EWHC 991 (Fam) (29 April 2013)
Application by wife for order that financial remedies hearing where Heads of Agreement had been entered into should be resumed on the grounds of material non-disclosure by the husband. Held that the husband had been guilty of non-disclosure, but that it was not material. Full report: Bailii.

PS v LP [2013] EWHC 1106 (COP) (06 February 2013)
Judgment concerning issue of whether the best interests of a disabled woman might be served by a reintroduction of familial relationships. Full report: Bailii. See also the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

“To Decide or not to Decide, that is the Question…” – the impact of R (H) v Kingston upon Hull City Council
Dave Phillips and Naomi Madderson, members of the child care team at 37 Park Square Chambers, consider the impact of a case in which a local authority which removed two children subject to an interim care order was judicially reviewed and in which the authors acted. Full article: Family Law Week.

Stare decisis does not apply where statute overrides
David Burrows looks at the cases of Re JG (a child by her guardian) v Legal Services Commission and ors (incl Law Society and Secretary of State for Justice) [2013] EWHC 804 (Admin) and R (on the application of T) v Legal Aid Agency & ors [2013] EWHC 960 (Admin) [above]. Full article: Family Law.

Samantha Bangham’s Week in Cases 3 May 2013
Samantha Bangham looks at the week's case highlights. Full article: Family Law.

Lucy Reed is "struggling to absorb the vast amounts of new guidance, update and direction". Full post: Pink Tape.

LAA LAA land (or judicially reviewing the legal aid bods and winning)
A discussion of T, R and Legal Aid Agency 2013 [above]. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

“Cutting edge forensic linguistics”
A discussion of the Court of Protection case of PS v LP 2013 [above]. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

LAA must give reasons about funding expert assessments in care proceedings
R (on the application of T) v Legal Aid Agency (formerly Legal Services Commission) [2013] EWHC 960 (Admin) Collins J, 26 April 2013 [above]. This successful challenge to a decision by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) arose from an expert assessor in family proceedings – not unnaturally – refusing to begin work unless funding was in place. Full post: UK Human Rights Blog.

Care inquiry – We need a cultural change in how we perceive children in care
As the Care Inquiry publishes its findings of an eight-month inquiry into the care system by eight leading children’s charities, including the Fostering Network, TACT and the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, BASW professional officer Sue Kent examines the issues. Full post: BASW. See also the news story, above.