Saturday, June 29, 2013

President Issues Guidance on Breathing Techniques

The President of the Family Division has issued new Guidance on Correct Breathing Techniques for family lawyers.

The Guidance can be found here.

Something for the Weekend: Pat Metheny - And I Love Her

Who could possibly resist the combination of Pat Metheny and The Beatles? Enjoy:

Friday, June 28, 2013

...AND JUSTICE FOR NONE: Chapter 9 - A Lawyer's Duty

IN CHAMBERS, 14 Little Graymatter Square. Judge Dodgy has arrived for the final pre-trial conference.

Arthur notices that the Judge appears to be in particularly good spirits, apparently convinced that he will be acquitted. Wait until you hear what I've got. Thought Arthur.

"I see Sir Marmaduke D'Ranged QC will be hearing the case." Says Judge Dodgy. "Isn't he a friend of yours?"

"Yes." Replies Arthur. "He used to be my Pupil Master."

"Excellent!" Says Judge Dodgy. "Even more likely to find in our favour!"

Arthur is a little annoyed by this. "I think you will find Sir Marmaduke is quite incapable of bias." He says pointedly.

Judge Dodgy gives Arthur a withering look that says: "Don't be impertinent, young man."

Arthur ignores that. "Now," he says, "I've got something I want you to hear."

He plays the tape.

To Arthur's disappointment, Judge Dodgy doesn't bat an eyelid.

"That is you on the tape, isn't it?" Asks Arthur.

"Oh yes." Says Judge Dodgy nonchalantly.

"Then doesn't it prove your guilt?" Asks Arthur, with a touch of exasperation.

"Oh yes." Says Judge Dodgy nonchalantly.

"But doesn't that change everything?" Asks Arthur.

"It doesn't change a thing." Replies Judge Dodgy coolly. "It's still your duty as my lawyer to do your best to get me acquitted, and that's just what you're going to do."

Arthur doesn't know what to say. The words "Defend the Children of the Poor & Punish the Wrongdoer" keep going through his head.

Friday Review: You can't get enough reports and guidance

Notable things this week:

The week began with a report from the The Marriage Foundation, which modestly calls itself a 'leading think-tank'. The report, we are told, "explodes the myth about a link between divorce and recession" (I must remember to buy myself some exploding myths in time for bonfire night). Quite what we are to make of this information I'm not sure, but no doubt the Foundation will herald it as yet another example of their research proving that marriage is best.

Tuesday saw the publication of another report, this time from NatCen Research surveying public attitudes regarding how much the state should require fathers to pay when families separate (yes, the report assumes it is the father who pays). The 'headline' findings of the survey are that the majority of the British public think that the state should be involved in enforcing non-resident fathers’ obligations to support their children financially, and in setting the amount that they should pay. The public also apparently thinks that the law should require fathers to pay more maintenance than the current statutory maintenance formula suggests. Single parent charity Gingerbread have said that the report shows that the Government's plans to reform child support are at odds with public opinion, and the report's authors go one further: "What is clear is that both the current law and the pending reforms fail to reflect public attitudes in this important area of social policy."

Next up came UL v BK, one of those rare cases deemed so important that it was published on the Judiciary of England and Wales website. I'll say no more about this case, save that if you are considering applying for a freezing injunction, probably best if you read it.

Moving on, Lucy Reed has posted about the proliferation of guidance and jargon in this post, in which she discusses an email she has received from the President, dealing with allocation of cases. She is showered "with nine separate attachments, each a piece of guidance, procedure, a template or a table", and treated to the terms "docketing" and "patterning", the latter of which provokes the following request: "I’m sure someone knows what it means. Answers on a postcard." She concludes with the plea: "If only we had as many resources as we do guidance, protocols and procedures." No chance of that, I'm afraid.

Finally, this week's example of the bleeding obvious comes from yet another report, this time from YouGov, who tell us that: "The government’s recent elimination of legal aid for all but a limited number of divorce cases is likely to spark a rise in so-called ‘DIY divorces’". YouGov: What the world already knows.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Family Lore Clinic: If I have received the decree absolute and did a clean break order afterwards am I divorced?

This is perhaps another example of the confusion that can be caused by our system under which all matters relating to a divorce do not have to be dealt with together.

The answer is that you were divorced when the court made the decree absolute. The clean break order merely finalised the financial/property aspect of the divorce.

A 'clean break order' is an order dismissing all financial/property claims by either party against the other. Clean break orders are usually 'consent orders', i.e. made with the consent of both parties. The order (like any other final financial/property order) is often made before the decree absolute, but it does not have to be made in order for the divorce to be finalised.

For a little more information regarding consent orders and the decree absolute, see this post, which dealt with a similar query. As I mentioned there, if you would like more detailed advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

UL v BK: Wife forfeits right to renewed freezing injunction after 'self-help'

Mr Justice Mostyn
I will not comment in detail upon this judgment, as I rather suspect others far more learned than myself will do that (in particular, Mr Justice Mostyn sets out the principles governing the adjudication of freezing applications). Instead, I will limit myself to one point regarding the issue of 'self-help'.

The wife issued her divorce petition on the 7th of February 2013 and on the 21st of February she obtained an ex parte freezing order which, inter alia, prevented the husband from dealing with a property in Marbella said to be worth £10m and froze further assets "presently registered in his sole name" up to a combined value of £20m.

The wife sought the order after finding various documents belonging to the husband. She said the husband had left these documents lying around, but admitted removing some from his briefcase or a filing cabinet. However, it subsequently transpired that she had not been telling the whole truth. The husband sued the wife in the Queen's Bench Division for breach of confidence and misuse of private information, and Just before the hearing in those proceedings she made an affidavit in which she admitted that she had accessed the husband's safe.

The present judgment dealt with the application by the wife for the continuation of the freezing order.

Mr Justice Mostyn described the failure by the wife to state in her affidavit in support of her freezing application that some of the documents derived from her accessing the husband's safe as "a serious breach of her duty of candour". He also found other 'defaults' on her part and said: "Weighing up all of her conduct I have no hesitation in concluding that she has forfeited the right to the exercise of the court's discretion to re-grant an injunction."

Another salutary lesson for those tempted to 'help themselves'.

As I indicated above, expect rather more comment* upon this case in the coming days.

*            *            *
*Such as here.

News Update: 25th of June 2013

WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

Married couples to be offered tax breaks before the next election
Tax breaks worth up to £150 to married couples will be written into law by David Cameron before the next election, a Treasury minister has promised. Full story: The Telegraph.

Cumbria's child protection services described as inadequate
Child protection services in Cumbria have been described as "inadequate", by Ofsted inspectors. Full story: BBC News.

'Clare's Law': Police urge women to help identify domestic abusers, after low take-up of scheme
Nearly 100 men with a history of abuse have been unmasked during the scheme's pilot. Full story: The Independent.

Financial pressures during a recession 'does NOT lead to more break ups'
Marriages can ride out the recession and couples stick together despite the strains of economic hard times, a research report said today. Full story: Daily Mail.

Revealed: How UK justice is dispensed out of hours down the phone line
Investigation by ‘The Independent’ shows judges making life-or-death decisions away from the public gaze. Full story: The Independent.

PLO roll-out will not affect court bundle claims under Family Advocacy Scheme
Legal Aid Agency guidance released. Full story: Family Law Week.

Coleridge J offers guidance on approach to ‘lesser issues and assets’ in financial remedy cases
In B v B [2013] EWHC 1232 (Fam) [below] Mr Justice Coleridge has made remarks, approved by the President of the Family Division, which practitioners will need to keep in mind when dealing with what the judge described as 'the lesser issues and assets'. Full story: Family Law Week.

Britain’s biggest divorce battle nears end after seven years
Business leaders expected to give evidence in climax of tycoon Scot Young’s bitter dispute with ex-wife, Michelle. Full story: The Independent. See also this story on Family Law Week.

Family mediation video launched
The video has been created to explain to people who are separating or divorcing how mediation can help, for example in agreeing arrangements for their children and financial matters. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Quarter of councils 'inadequate' under new Ofsted inspection regime
Judy Cooper finds out how councils are responding to Ofsted's 'tougher' inspections, as Community Care reveals a quarter have failed under the new regime. Full story: Community Care.

Doncaster brings in Impower to overhaul children's services
Doncaster Council has appointed consultants Impower and Penna to help it turn around its failing children’s services department. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

College publishes code of ethics for its social workers in England
The College of Social Work has published a code of ethics setting out the professional values and standards is expects its members to uphold. Full story: Community Care.

Family Justice Council fears impact of legal aid reforms on public law cases
Government plans to limit legal aid to those with a strong connection to the UK are unlikely to lead to a reduction of expense in family cases and could impact on the 26-week time limit for care proceedings, the Family Justice Council has warned. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

Divorce ‘costs £2,600 per year in expected retirement income
Divorce reduces average expected retirement income by around £2,600 or by as much as 16 per cent a year, according to new research from Prudential. Full story: Actuarial Post.

MP seeks to widen legal definition of neglect
An MP will today launch a bid to make the emotional and psychological neglect of children a crime. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Mother sues lawyer for £15m over 'millions lost’ in divorce
A mother is suing her former solicitor for £15 million, claiming that his poor advice cost her millions of pounds in a divorce settlement. Full story: The Telegraph.

Visits to domestic violence charity website quadruple after Charles Saatchi assault
A domestic violence charity has seen visits to its website increase fourfold since Charles Saatchi was seen assaulting his wife, Nigella Lawson, in public. Full story: The Telegraph.

A (A Child) (Vulnerable Witness), Re [2013] EWHC 1694 (Fam) (17 June 2013)
Judgment relating to the giving of evidence by a vulnerable witness in private law children proceedings. Full report: Bailii.

Re T (Brussels II Revised:Art 15) [2013] EWCA (11 June 2013)
Appeal by mother against determination that proceedings should be continued in Slovakia. Appeal dismissed. Report: Family Law.

Re R (Inherent Probability of Mother Harming Baby) [2013] EWCA (12 June 2013)
Successful appeal by mother against finding that she was responsible for the injuries to the child. Report: Family Law.

Wyatt v Vince [2013] EWCA (13 June 2013)
Appeal by husband relating to the setting aside of an A v A order of £125,000 representing past and future legal fees. Report: Family Law.

B v B [2013] EWHC 1232 (Fam) (21 May 2013)
Financial remedies judgment dealing with issues relating essentially to achieving an agreed equal division of capital assets. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story, above.

L and M (Children), Re [2013] EWHC 1569 (Fam) (04 June 2013)
Re-trial of findings of fact hearing relating to the cause of injuries to a child. Full report: Bailii.

G and E (Children) (Vulnerable Witness), Re [2011] EWHC 4063 (Fam) (16 June 2011)
Ruling in preliminary application as to whether a child should give oral evidence in public law proceedings relating both to herself and her younger brother. Full report: Bailii.

Rule 25.1 and the President's Guidance in H-L - A 'necessary' evil?
Christopher Rank, barrister, of Cornwall Street Chambers considers expert evidence, rule 25.1 of the FPR and The President’s recent guidance in Re H-L (A Child). Full article: Family Law Week.

Technology creates 24/7 duty of care on lawyers to respond to clients
"Technology has transformed the way in which lawyers across the world conduct their work." Says David Hodson, in this article on Family Law.

Samantha Bangham’s Week in Cases 21 June 2013
Samantha Bangham looks at the week's case highlights. Full article: Family Law.

Children: Private Law update (May 2013)
Alex Verdan QC of 4 Paper Buildings considers three important recent judgments in Children private law proceedings. Full article: Family Law Week.

Prest v Petrodel Resources Limited 2013 UKSC 34 a victory for common sense
"In summary, the Supreme Court (comprising Lords Neuberger, Walker, Mance, Clarke, Wilson, Sumption and Lady Hale) has unanimously upheld the wife’s appeal and found that the Respondent group of companies held the assets on trust for the Husband. The assets therefore constitute property to which the husband is “entitled, either in possession or reversion” for the purposes of section 24(1)(a) MCA." Full article: Zenith Chambers.

The Supreme Court grasps the nettle in Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd
“On 12th June 2013, the Supreme Court delivered judgment in the eagerly anticipated appeal in Prest v Petrodel Resources Limited [2013] UKSC 34. For the second time this year, the Supreme Court has had to grapple with the circumstances in which it is appropriate to pierce the corporate veil, the previous decision being that of VTB Capital plc v Nutritek International Corp [2013] 2 WLR 398 (a case in which a number of 11 SB members were involved). Unlike in VTB Capital, however, this time the Supreme Court grasped the nettle and gave some practical guidance as to the reach and limitations of the doctrine.” Full article: 11 Stone Buildings (PDF).

Rather thin on the ground this week, mainly because suesspiciousminds is away. Damn him.

Supreme Court considers conditions for removing child for adoption
Rosalind English examines the Supreme Court decision in In the matter of B (a child). Full post: UK Human Rights Blog.

Monday, June 24, 2013

News Podcast: For the week to the 24th of June 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, June 22, 2013

Something for the Weekend: The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter

Following on from last weekend's anti-war theme, here are the Stones performing at the Shanghai Grand Stadium in 2006, with Lisa Fischer sharing the vocals:

Friday, June 21, 2013

...AND JUSTICE FOR NONE: Chapter 8 - Evidence of Guilt

IN CHAMBERS, 14 Little Graymatter Square. Arthur Conscience is preparing Ian O'Cent's appeal against sentence, when he is interrupted by his clerk, Frankie Spiv.

"Got a letter for you, Mr Conscience." Says Frankie, handing Arthur a brown envelope.

Arthur examines the envelope. It has an unusual postmark - looks like 'Mustique', but Arthur can't be sure. He opens the envelope. It contains two things: a cassette tape and a small piece of paper upon which is typed: "Thought you might find this interesting."

Intrigued, Arthur plugs the cassette into his new Sony Walkman (Arthur is the proud owner of the latest must-have gadget) and presses 'Play'.

The recording is somewhat crackly. It begins with the sound of a phone ringing. Then a voice answers:

"Judge Dodgy." Now Arthur IS interested.

"Hello, Judge." Says a sleazy-sounding voice that Arthur doesn't recognise.

"Who is this?" Asks Judge Dodgy.

"You don't need to know who I am." Says the voice. "I've got a proposal for you."

"Oh yes?" Says Judge Dodgy.

"Yes." Says the voice. "I'm calling on behalf of Mr Crooked, the landlord who's in court for throwing a young family out on the street."

"I know the case." Replies Judge Dodgy. "I'm hearing it next week."

"I know." Says the voice. "And I'm prepared to offer you a grand for finding it in my client's favour."

"I think I can see my way to doing that." Replies Judge Dodgy.

"Good." Says the voice, and the recording goes dead.

"Bloody hell." Mutters Arthur.

Friday Review: Some photos, some obvious things... and a tweet.

Notable things this week:

Mercifully, it has been a somewhat quieter week family law-wise this week than last. Nevertheless, there have still been one or two things worthy of comment...

Perhaps the biggest 'family law' related story this week involved a certain celebrity putting his hand around the neck of his celebrity wife. Now, such things would not normally be broadcast to the world, and I'm not sure that I accept the media argument that the fact that they are celebrities gives us the 'right to know'. Leaving that issue aside, the publication of the pictures sparked much heated debate, generally dividing between those who sought to downplay the incident and those who thought it was rather more serious. Whatever, at least there seems to be one good thing that has come out of it: a greater awareness of the issue of domestic violence.

Moving on, we have been told that divorce reduces average expected retirement income. Who would have guessed? Clearly the answer to the problem is for all divorcees to take out a pension plan with Prudential, who carried out the research which brought us this piece of shocking news.

Still on the subject of the (bleeding) obvious, the Family Justice Council in its response to the Transforming Legal Aid consultation has warned that the government's plans to further restrict legal aid will have adverse consequences, 'risking injustice and miscarriages of justice'. Tellingly, the response also criticised the lack of a proper evaluation of the changes already introduced by LASPO.

Another decision open to criticism is that of Fathers4Justice who, as Lucy Reed at Pink Tape points out, have opened a website to name and shame “contact deniers - parents, solicitors, judges, Cafcass officers, MP’s and any other parties involved in contact denial and the forcible separation of children from their fathers“. I had a quick look at the site but can't link to it now (even if I wanted to, which obviously I do not), as F4J have since chosen to password-protect it. Probably for the best.

Moving away from family law, I only recall appearing before a stipe on one occasion, but I remember my father telling me about them when he was a clerk at Old Street and Wells Street in the early 70s. Pretty formidable they could be too, so this short article in the Obiter section of the Gazette this week, explaining how difficult it could be to get them to grant legal aid, brought back memories.

Lastly, and nothing to do with law at all, I'm not sure I've ever 'favorited' a tweet before, but I felt compelled to do so with this one, which made me laugh out loud:
Expect much more of the same from the BBC over the coming month...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Family Lore Clinic: I have received a draft consent order, what do I do?

Once again, the term 'consent order' usually refers to the court order setting out an agreed financial/property settlement on divorce or dissolution of civil partnership, and that is the meaning I will assume in this post.

The order has to be drafted by one or other of the parties - the court will not draft it for you. The draft must be agreed by both parties before it is sent to the court, so the party who drafts the order will send the draft to the other party, for approval.

Drafting a court order is not something for a lay person to do. It really must be done by a specialist family lawyer, who will know how to word it and what should be included, so that it properly reflects the agreement and is legally binding.

Accordingly, if you receive a draft order from your (former) spouse/partner's solicitor, you really need to have it checked by a solicitor on your behalf. So long as the order is not too complex, the cost of this should not be too great (the solicitor should give you an estimate in advance) and certainly could save you much more in the long run.

Having said that, there are a few things that you can do:

Firstly, check for obvious typing errors - you would be surprised how many draft orders contain such errors!

Secondly, check that all of the basic details on the order are correct: names of both parties and any children mentioned, addresses of any properties etc. Make sure that the terms 'Petitioner/Applicant' and 'Respondent' refer to the correct people.

Thirdly, check that the draft order contains the basic terms of the agreement, such as figures, who gets what etc - it should be possible to do this, even accounting for any legal jargon in the order.

Finally, make sure that nothing that was agreed as part of the financial/property settlement has been omitted from the draft order - again, it should be possible to do this despite any legal jargon.

Obviously, you should tell your solicitor about anything you think is wrong with the draft order.

After taking advice from your solicitor, you obviously need to get in touch with your (former) spouse/partner's solicitor and tell them whether you approve the draft, or whether it requires amendment.

Once the draft has been approved by both parties, a fair copy will be prepared for signature and sent to the court, together with supporting paperwork and the court fee. If the court approves the draft, it will make the consent order.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

News Update: 18th of June 2013

WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

Consultation outcome: The Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013
Government response to the consultation on the draft Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013, which invited views on a small number of proposed changes to the 2012 child maintenance scheme. Full story: GOV.UK.

Family lawyers divided over Prest decision
The Supreme Court’s decision [below] to order an oil tycoon to hand over assets held by his companies to his former wife has been hailed as a victory for fairness and justice by lawyers. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Social work-bashing report challenged
Findings of a report by a right-wing thinktank describing the future for social workers as “bleak” was challenged by BASW’s Interim Chief Executive, Bridget Robb. Full story: BASW News. See also the story in The Independent, below.

Parliamentary Committee welcomes Government review of extension of civil partnerships to opposite sex couples
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has published its report scrutinising the provisions of the Marriage Bill. Full story: Family Law Week.

New ‘Fostering for Adoption’ guidance for social workers published by Coram and BAAF
New practical guidance has been published to help local authorities implement 'Fostering for Adoption' with the aim of ensuring more children can live with their potential permanent carers at the earliest possible stage of the adoption process. Full story: Family Law Week.

New video celebrates role of both parents in separated families
The positive role that both parents in a separated family can play in a child’s upbringing is being celebrated in a new video today. Full story: GOV.UK.

Ofsted unveils tougher child protection inspections
Child protection and looked-after children's services will be deemed ‘inadequate’ even if just part of their work is failing, under plans unveiled by Ofsted to toughen up inspections. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Lack of social workers putting vulnerable children at risk
Vulnerable children are being put at risk by a chronic shortage of experienced social workers, according to research. The supply of social workers will not equal demand until 2022, according to a paper from the think-tank Policy Exchange, a situation it says could have “tragic implications”. Full story: The Independent. See also the BASW News story, above.

Legal advice on divorce prompts most legal complaints
Divorce cases have prompted the most complaints about lawyers in the last year with individuals being urged to shop around for legal advice. Full story: BBC News.

Courts will not give up on girl abducted by mother, judge warns
Judge issues warning two years after Humma Dar disappeared with daughter Aamina Khan after girl's father was given custody. Full story: The Guardian.

Family President clarifies when use of expert is 'necessary' in proceedings
The President of the Family Division has clarified when the use of an expert witness is ‘necessary’ under guidance he gave earlier this year. See Re H-L (A Child), below. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

One in three children whose single parent works part-time now in poverty
Government figures published today show that the proportion of children from single parent families where the parent works part-time but who still live in poverty, has leapt from one in four (23 per cent) to almost one in three (31 per cent) in just one year. Full story: Gingerbread.

Essex police criticised over handling of domestic violence cases
A police force criticised over the murders of three women and a young girl in domestic violence cases needs to do more to target men who repeatedly abuse their victims, an inspector's report says today. Full story: The Independent.

Prest ruling likely to lead to more divorce planning
The Supreme Court ruling [below] allowing a wife to access assets held by her husband's companies will encourage the tying up of assets in business, family lawyers have said. Full story: Solicitors Journal.

Immigration control takes priority over children’s best interests, concludes Joint Committee on Human Rights
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has called for extensive reforms in the way that unaccompanied migrant children are treated on their arrival in the United Kingdom. Full story: Family Law Week.

Supreme Court dismisses parents' appeal against care order
The Supreme Court in Re B (A Child) UKSC 33 [below] has dismissed an appeal by parents against a care order made in respect of their daughter on the basis of a risk to her of future psychological or emotional harm under section 31 of the Children Act 1989. Full story: Family Law Week.

Supreme court chooses the 'third way' in Prest divorce case
Lord Sumption's ruling [below] resolves the dilemma of enforcing the law and doing judgment. Full story: The Guardian.

Supreme Court upholds wife’s appeal in Prest v Petrodel
The Supreme Court has unanimously allowed the appeal by Yasmine Prest [below] to treat assets held by companies and trusts within her former husband’s control as matrimonial assets that should be transferred to her as part of a £17.5m divorce settlement. Full story: Solicitors Journal.

LGA and Barnardo's warn of 'reckless' adoption changes
The entire adoption system could be significantly damaged unless proposed reforms are reconsidered, Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association (LGA) have warned. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

The Family Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2013
These rules amend the Family Procedure Rules 2010 by amending the definition of a “financial order” in rule 2.3(1) so that it includes an order for payment in respect of legal services under section 22ZA of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 or Part 8 of Schedule 5 to the Civil Partnership Act 2004, in consequence of the commencement of sections 49 to 54 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

The Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2013
This Order amends the Family Proceedings Fees Order 2008. It increases certain fees that are payable in family proceedings in England and Wales in the Senior Courts and county courts by the cumulative rate of inflation since those fees were last increased.

CM v The Executor of the Estate of EJ & Ors [2013] EWHC 1680 (Fam) (14 June 2013)
Application for declaration relating to the removal of blood and tissue samples from a deceased person, for the purpose of testing for blood-borne diseases. Full report: Bailii.

W (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 662 (8 May 2013)
Appeal by parents against findings of fact regarding injuries to child. appeal dismissed. Full report: Family Law Week.

LCG v RL [2013] EWHC 1383 (Fam) (23 May 2013)
Application by mother for return of children to Spain. Application granted. Full report: Bailii.

Re H-L (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 655 (13 June 2013)
Appeal by mother in care proceedings against refusal of application for permission to instruct three expert medical witnesses. Guidance given regarding the new test on the use of experts in family proceedings. Full report: Judiciary of England and Wales (PDF). HTML version: Bailii. See also the news story above and the blog post, below..

T v M [2013] EWHC 1585 (Fam) (23 April 2013)
Appeal by husband against striking out of application to vary a maintenance order. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Family Law Week.

Prest v Petrodel Resources Limited and others [2013] UKSC 34 (12 June 2013)
Appeal dealing with issue of Whether it is open to the court in ancillary relief proceedings to treat the assets of a company of which a spouse is the sole controller as being assets to which that spouse is ‘entitled’ for the purposes of s 24(1)(a) MCA. Full report: Supreme Court (PDF). HTML version: Bailii. See also the news stories and articles.

In the matter of B (a Child) [2013] UKSC 33 (12 June 2013)
Appeal dealing with issue of Whether a child of two years of age should be permanently removed from her parents and placed for adoption. In that regard, whether the child was likely to suffer significant harm within the meaning of s.31(2)(a) of the Children Act, and whether her permanent removal was a proportionate response to any such risk that she did face. Full report: Supreme Court (PDF). HTML version: Bailii. See also the news story, articles and blog posts.

Prizzia v Hungary (Application No 20255/12) (11 June 2013)
Application by father applied to ECHR claiming that the Hungarian authorities failed to ensure the enforcement of decisions concerning contact with his child in breach of Art 8. Held, the Hungarian authorities had acted in breach of the father's Art 8 European Convention rights. Report: Family Law. Full report: ECHR.

Sir Mark Hedley: The judge who opened the doors to Britain’s most secretive court
Sir Mark Hedley decided that the public should know about the judiciary’s highly sensitive rulings. He tells Emily Dugan why. Full article: The Independent.

Re B (A Child) – Social Engineering or Proportionate Response to Risk of Future Harm?
Janet Bazley QC and Eleri Jones of 1 Garden Court consider the Supreme Court’s decision in Re B (A Child) [2013] UKSC 22 [above]. Full article: Family Law Week.

Changes to public law
The pressures on the public purse as much as those of the present Conservative government have brought about yet more radical changes to public law proceedings. Full article: Law Society Gazette.

Samantha Bangham’s Week in Cases 14 June 2013
Samantha Bangham looks at the week's case highlights (guess which two cases?). Full article: Family Law.

Stripping Away the Veil of Deceit: Prest v Petrodel
John Wilson QC of 1 Hare Court analyses the Supreme Court’s judgment in the landmark case of Prest v Petrodel [above] and considers its implications for family lawyers. Full article: Family Law Week.

Care Proceedings: the Operation and Effect of Pre-Proceedings – What do lawyers need to know?
Professor Judith Masson, School of Law University of Bristol, and Dr Jonathan Dickens, Centre for Research on Children and Families, University of East Anglia, explain the lessons learned for future practice from research conducted into the use of the pre-proceedings process in care cases. Full article: Family Law Week.

The Supreme Court deploys its Stinger, but does not piece the corporate veil
"Today's decision by the Supreme Court in Petrodel v Prest [above] puts reality back into an important area of family law." Says Jeremy Posnansky QC, in this article on Family Law.

Eating cabin-boys and instructing experts
Suesspiciousminds turns his attention to Re H-L (A Child) [2013] [above]. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

Emotional wrecks
Suesspiciousminds gives further consideration to the Supreme Court decision in Re B (A Child) [above]. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

Empathy, anxiety and resilience: Lady Hale in the Supreme Court yesterday
Observations on Lady Hale's judgment in Re B (a Child) [above]. Full post: The Not So Big Society.

Supreme Court and emotional harm
Suesspiciousminds considers the supreme Court judgment in Re B (A Child) [above]. Full post: suesspiciousminds.

A case of oversharing
The Law Society has issued social media guidelines for solicitors, but it’s time we 
do the same for clients, 
says Marilyn Stowe, in this post on her blog.

Monday, June 17, 2013

News Podcast: For the week to the 17th of June 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, June 15, 2013

Edgar Venal Knighted!


London, 15th June 2013: Edgar Venal has paid requested me to inform you that he has received a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

The citation reads: "for services to the advancement of the good name of the legal profession".

Responding to the honour, Edgar Sir Edgar modestly said: "My knighthood confirms my superiority over all you riff-raff. Not that I want to boast about it."

Sir Edgar has asked me to say that reports that he paid for the honour are entirely without foundation and that the name of anyone suggesting this will be passed to the Venal & Grabbit Defamation and Extortion Department.

Regarding the fact that Sir Edgar's name was not mentioned in the Honours List, he said: "as everyone knows, I am a modest man. I therefore requested that my name be omitted from the List".

He concluded: "I shall uphold all that is good about the honours system. My knighthood changes nothing. Just so long as you address me "Sir"."

Something for the Weekend: The Supremes - Stoned Love

For those who, like me, have heard quite enough from Middlesex Guildhall this week, here are a rather more melodic type of Supremes:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Review: Cases, fees, figures and... Mr Gove

Notable things this week:

The two biggest stories this week come, of course, from the Supreme Court.

Firstly, we had B (A Child, in which the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, by a majority of 4:1. There has been some comment on this judgment (for example this post by suesspiciousminds), but clearly child care is not as 'sexy' as multi-million pound divorce cases...

Hot on the heels of B (A Child) we had Prest v Petrodel, in which, to the surprise of some, Mrs Prest's appeal was unanimously allowed. What was not surprising was the outpouring of analysis and comment following the judgment, with Resolution, 1 Hare Court, Jeremy Posnansky QC and Joshua Rozenberg all being particularly quick off the mark, not to mention the press releases I received in my Inbox (and which still remain there). Expect a lot more in the coming days...

As mentioned by Colin Mitchell on Twitter, it seemed more than a coincidence that, just as our eyes were diverted by the excitement of two family law Supreme Court judgments, a new Family Proceedings Fees Order was being released, including an eye-watering 20% increase in the fee to issue a divorce petition, from £340 to £410 (although this does include the decree absolute fee). Another example of justice becoming the preserve of the better-off.

Elsewhere, Cafcass reported a record-breaking month for private law applications. Some lawyers considered that this was due to a surge in the number of litigants in person following the legal aid cuts at the beginning of April, and warned that this could lead to the 'collapse' of the family courts. Others, however, say the rise is simply a temporary blip due to the rush to 'beat' the cuts. I guess time will tell...

Meanwhile, a report from the Centre for Social Justice warns that around one million children are growing up with no contact with their father, and that some of the poorest parts of the country have become "men deserts". Hmm. Why am I always sceptical of research that supports the arguments of those who commissioned it? Indeed, there is a different view, for which see this article in the Guardian.

Mind you, the way some parents behave you do wonder whether children might be better off without either of them...

Finally (taking care to say nothing about the defacement of a certain painting of the Queen), I would like to draw your attention to this post on The Children's Services Blog. Serious case reviews are, of course, a serious subject, but you have to wonder what Mr Gove was thinking when he chose to appoint an air accident investigator to the new Serious Case Review Panel, but not anyone with any direct child protection practice or social work management experience...

...AND JUSTICE FOR NONE: Chapter 7 - A Phone Call

IN CHAMBERS, 14 Little Graymatter Square. Arthur Conscience has come to a decision.

He picks up the phone and dials.

"Judge Dodgy." A voice on the other end replies.

"Ah, Judge Dodgy." Says Arthur. "I've had a little thought about your proposal, and come to a decision."

"And?" Asks Judge Dodgy impatiently.

"I've decided I will represent you." Says Arthur cooly.

"Excellent!" Replies Judge Dodgy. "When do you want to see me?"

They arrange a conference in chambers the following week.

"We'll go through the evidence against me and tear it to shreds!" Proclaims Judge Dodgy.

"Quite." Says Arthur.

"With you representing me, the jury won't believe a word the prosecution say!" Proclaims Judge Dodgy.

"Quite." Says Arthur.

"And after we've won, I want to take defamation proceedings against everyone who's sullied my good name!" Proclaims Judge Dodgy.

"Quite." Says Arthur.

"One last thing - what made you decide to represent me?" Asks Judge Dodgy.

"Well," replies Arthur with a smile, "everyone has a right to the best legal representation." Arthur thinks he can hear a cough at the other end of the phone.

"Quite." Says Judge Dodgy.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Family Lore Clinic: Is a consent order legally binding?

As I have mentioned before, the term 'consent order' usually refers to the court order setting out an agreed financial/property settlement on divorce or dissolution of civil partnership, and that is the meaning I will assume in this post.

The answer to the question is quite simple: Once the consent order has been made, it is binding just like any other order. The fact that the terms of the order were agreed, or that it was agreed that those terms would be made into an order, make no difference. The order is binding just the same as if the court had made the order without the agreement of the parties.

The only 'proviso' to the above is that the financial/property settlement is dependent upon the divorce being finalised, and therefore if it has not been finalised the consent order will not take effect until the decree absolute.

As usual, if you require specfic advice, then you should consult a specialist family lawyer.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Supreme Court judgment in Prest v Petrodel

Supreme Court judgment in In the matter of B (A Child)

Prest v Petrodel Resources Limited and others: Appeal allowed

The Supreme Court has today allowed the wife's appeal in Prest v Petrodel.

The Issue
Whether it is open to the court in ancillary relief proceedings to treat the assets of a company of which a spouse is the sole controller as being assets to which that spouse is ‘entitled’ for the purposes of s 24(1)(a) Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

The Facts
The appellant wife brought financial proceedings ancillary to her divorce from her husband Michael Prest. The husband was ordered to pay a lump sum of £17.5m to the wife, which he has not paid. The respondents are all Isle of Man companies under the control of the husband. The wife obtained an order that real property held by the respondents should be transferred to her so as to reduce the lump sum order. The respondents successfully appealed against that order.

The Decision
The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal by the wife and declared that the seven disputed properties vested in the companies are held on trust for the husband on the ground (which was not considered by the courts below) that, in the particular circumstances of the case, the properties were held by the husband’s companies on a resulting trust for the husband, and were accordingly “property to which the [husband] is entitled, either in possession or reversion”. Lord Sumption gave the leading judgment and Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Clarke and Lord Walker added concurring judgments.

A press summary of the judgment is available here, and the full judgment here.

In the matter of B (a Child): Appeal dismissed

The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has today dismissed the parents' appeal in B (A Child).

The Issue
Whether a child of two years of age should be permanently removed from her parents and placed for adoption. In that regard, whether the child was likely to suffer significant harm within the meaning of s.31(2)(a) of the Children Act 1989, and whether her permanent removal was a proportionate response to any such risk that she did face.

The Facts
‘A’, a girl now aged two years old, was removed from her parents at birth. The first Respondent subsequently applied for a care order permanently to separate her from her parents and to have her placed for adoption. The grounds on which the order was sought were principally that her mother (‘M’) suffered from a psychiatric condition that led her to seek unnecessary medical treatment; that both her parents exhibited a dishonest approach when interacting with care personnel and other professionals; and that it was not appropriate for her father (‘F’) to care for her of his own accord. It was asserted that A was at risk of harm in terms of her emotional and social development and also due to the risk she would be presented for unnecessary medical treatment or adopt M’s behaviour in doing so. The Family Division of the High Court granted the care order. Both parents appealed that order on the grounds they did not present a risk of significant harm to A, and that in any event her permanent removal and placement for adoption was disproportionate to any risk that they did present. The Court of Appeal upheld the care order, and the parents now appeal that decision to the Supreme Court.

The Decision
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal by a majority of four to one.

 A press summary of the judgment is available here, and the full judgment here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

News Update: 11th of June 2013

WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

Family courts risk 'collapse' as surge in custody cases follows legal aid cuts
The family court system is in danger of “collapsing in on itself” after a surge in the number of warring parents turning up in person to launch child custody cases because of legal aid cuts [see Cafcass story below], leading lawyers are warning. Full story: The Telegraph.

Prest v Prest: supreme court prepares to rule on landmark divorce wrangle
Will Yasmin Prest "pierce the corporate veil" and get the £17.5m divorce settlement her former husband has been ordered to pay her? That's the intriguing question the supreme court will answer on Wednesday. Full story: The Guardian.

Record-breaking month for private law applications
In May 2013, Cafcass received a total of 5,061 new private law cases, representing the highest ever month on record. This is a 5% increase on February 2012 levels. Clearly, mediation is not the answer to everything... Full story: Cafcass.

Slight drop in Care applications in May
In May 2013, Cafcass received a total of 965 applications. This is a 1.8% decrease on May 2012, however the year-to-date figures are still up on last year. Full story: Cafcass.

'A million children growing up without fathers'
A million UK children are growing up without a father in their lives, says a new report on family breakdown. Full story: BBC News.

Foster care to be extended to the age of 21
Teenagers will be helped to stay with their foster parents until they reach 21 under plans being put to MPs this week. Full story: The Independent.

Independent reviewing officers are not challenging enough, says Ofsted
Officers employed by local authorities to review care plans are failing to make enough of a difference for looked-after children, a damning report has found. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Serious case review panel established
Education Secretary Michael Gove today established a new independent panel to help ensure that lessons are learned when a child dies or is seriously harmed and there are signs of abuse or neglect. Full story: GOV.UK.

Use of expert witnesses in family courts is on the slide, finds Cafcass
The use of expert witnesses in care proceedings cases, particularly independent social workers, has fallen radically over the last three years. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

Supreme Court to deliver judgment in Petrodel v Prest next week
The Supreme Court will deliver its judgment in Petrodel Resources Limited and others v Prest on Wednesday, 12th June. See also the news story above. Full story: Family Law Week.

Supreme Court to deliver judgment on ‘significant harm’ and proportionality of response
The Supreme Court will deliver judgment in B (A Child) on Wednesday, 12th June. See also the blog post below. Full story: Family Law Week.

Child maintenance reforms will 'penalise single parents'
Proposals to reform the child maintenance system will leave many lone parents worse off, causing children's welfare to suffer, research suggests. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

News from the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court grants permission to appeal one High Court and one Court of Appeal decision. Full story: Family Law Hub.

Ombudsman attacks council for failing to support boy abandoned by parents
The Local Government Ombudsman has sharply criticised a local authority for its failure properly to support a child abandoned by his parents. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

Fresh inquiry sees MPs investigate support for children in care
A group of MPs has launched an inquiry to examine whether looked-after children receive the support to which they are entitled. Full story: Children & Young People Now.

North West council fined £70k after data breach relating to adopted child
A council in the North West has become the latest local authority to be fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office after a data breach in its social services team. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

New mediation laws to help separating couples
Separating couples will be legally required to find out about ways to settle disputes away from the courtroom, under new laws currently going through Parliament. Full story: GOV.UK.

Insemination case: Chances missed to check on adopted daughter
A review into how a mother was able to force her adopted child to impregnate herself has found agencies missed opportunities to intervene. Full story: BBC News.

Peers defeat attempt to kill gay marriage bill
Campaigners for same sex marriage welcome the result after a wrecking amendment was defeated by 390 to 148 votes. Full story: The Guardian.

Government welcomes new ideas for supporting separated families
Additional funding available for projects to help separated parents and their children. Full story: GOV.UK.

General Medical Council guidance: Acting as a witness in legal proceedings
The General Medical Council has published guidance for doctors who act as professional witnesses or expert witnesses. Full story: Family Law.

Legal Aid Agency Guidance on the Remuneration of Expert Witnesses
The Legal Aid Agency has published updated guidance on remuneration for expert witnesses. Full story: Family Law.

President's Guidance of 4 June 2013: Committal for Contempt of Court
On 4 June 2013, the President of the Family Division issed guidance on committal for contempt of court. This guidance supplements the Practice Guidance issued on 3 May 2013. Practice Guidance: Family Law.

Just two new cases this week:

R (Mother) v C (Father) & Anor [2013] EWHC 1295 (Fam) (17 May 2013)
Application by mother for permission to relocate with her child ton Columbia. Permission granted. Full report: Bailii.

A Council v M & Ors (Judgment 4: Foreign Adoption: Refusal of Recognition) [2013] EWHC 1501 (Fam) (06 June 2013)
Application for a declaration that an adoption in Kazakhstan is recognised in England and Wales. Held that it was not an adoption that is recognised. Full report: Bailii.

Legal services orders
Since 1 April the family courts have had the power to make a legal services order, which is a new form of interim order compelling one spouse to make provision for the other’s legal costs. Full article: Law Gazette.

Disclosure of confidential information: public interest immunity
David Burrows looks back at Durham County Council v Dunn [2012] EWCA Civ 1654. Full article: Family Law.

Finance and Divorce June 2013 update
Anna Heenan, solicitor and David Salter, Joint Head of Family Law at Mills & Reeve LLP analyse the financial remedies and divorce news and cases published in May. Full article: Family Law Week.

Samantha Bangham’s Week in Cases 7 June 2013
Samantha Bangham looks at the week's case highlights. Full article: Family Law.

The Revised Public Law Outline .... and this time they mean it
Andrew Pack, care lawyer with Brighton & Hove City Council, explains and comments on the changes made by the recently published Revised Public Law Outline. Full article: Family Law Week.

A thin week for blog posts too:

Rescuing children from significant harm: looking forward with trepidation and hope
Allan Norman looks forward to the Supreme Court judgment in B (A Child). Full post: The Not So Big Society.

“Tales of the Un-experted” (sorry)
CAFCASS have just published a study looking at experts – their use in proceedings, what type is being used, who asked for them, were they helpful? Full post: suesspiciousminds (about time he apologised for his post titles!).

Monday, June 10, 2013

News Podcast: For the week to the 10th of June 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, June 08, 2013

Something for the Weekend: The Rain Song - Jimmy Page & Robert Plant

This week I thought I would indulge myself a little. I always loved Page's guitar on this song, and in this version, as one of the YouTube commenters says, he nailed it:

Friday, June 07, 2013

Friday Review: Mediation, committal and fancy dress (in two different forms)

Notable things this week:

Looking forward to next week may be a strange place to start a review of the last week, but perhaps the thing that is getting family lawyers the most excited is the news that the Supreme Court is to hand down its decision in Petrodel v Prest next Wednesday, the 12th of June. Prepare to be inundated by the views of the pundits...

Moving on, as I noted yesterday, the government continues to push mediation. The MoJ's press release doesn't really say anything new but does tell us that:
"Over the next two years the Government is predicting a sharp rise in the use of mediation for separating couples."
Really? I can't imagine why that may be the case...

The President
The President has issued supplemental guidance on committal for contempt of court. Lucy Reed over at Pink Tape speculates whether this may in any way be connected with this report that appeared in the Daily Fail. Lucy also notes that paragraph six of the guidance requires advocates to be robed. Presumably, a bit of 'fancy dress' (as Lucy calls it) adds to the solemnity of the occasion...

Happily, attempts in the House of Lords to 'wreck' the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill came to naught, and the Bill now proceeds to the House of Lords committee stage.

Despite the large fines imposed, Councils still seem to be finding ways of breaching the Data Protection Act. The latest authority to transgress is Halton Borough Council in Cheshire, which has been fined £70,000 for sending details of the home address of adoptive parents to the birth mother.

Away from family law, Charon QC has treated us to a four-part 'view of and from the law blogs' (and other assorted matters). You can find part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here and part 4 here.

And if you still have your sanity after that, head over to Babybarista, where the subject of direct access raises its head in Steering clear of the clients.

Finally, as pointed out by Legal Cheek, a father in America decided that a good way to impress the judge in his application for contact with his youngest son would be to dress in Nazi uniform. Not, in fact, the first bad decision he has made - he named his oldest son 'Adolf Hitler'.

...AND JUSTICE FOR NONE: Chapter 6 - Mitigation

IN CHAMBERS, 14 Little Graymatter Square. Jolyon Potty is behaving very strangely.

"They won't burgle me if they know I've got this!" He shouts, brandishing a gun in one hand.

"What the hell are you doing?" Asks Arthur.

"I'm not going to get the likes of Larry Larceny off just so I can be their next victim!" Screams Jolyon, waving the gun at Arthur.

He's definitely lost it now. Thinks Arthur. He manages to calm his friend down enough to get the gun from him, and calls an ambulance. When it arrives, Jolyon is sedated by a medic and put on a stretcher.

"I'll go with him to the hospital." Arthur tells the medic. "Just give me a minute."

Arthur grabs the brief on his desk and hands it to a junior barrister, Farquhar Flustered, who has been watching Jolyon's antics. Arthur explains that the brief relates to a hearing today for a regular criminal client of his, Ian O'Cent. It is a simple mitigation plea, and the client should get off with a probation order. Arthur asks Farquhar to cover the hearing for him, so that he can accompany Jolyon to the hospital. Farquhar agrees.

*            *            *

Later that day, Arthur arrives back at chambers, and goes to Farquhar's room to see how he got on.

"N-not very well, I'm afraid." Stutters Farquhar.

"What do you mean, 'not very well'?" Asks Arthur.

"W-well, v-very b-badly, actually." Says Farquhar.

Arthur is concerned that Farquhar's stuttering is getting worse. "How badly?" He asks, fearing the worst.

"I-I'm afraid he g-got t-ten years." Says Farquhar sheepishly.

"TEN YEARS!" Shouts Arthur. "What the hell happened?"

Farquhar explains that the hearing was before Mr Justice Denied, who took an instant dislike to Mr O'Cent and, come to that, to Farquhar. As a result, Farquhar made a mess of the mitigation plea, and Mr Justice Denied handed down the maximum sentence.

This is what happens when someone is not properly represented. Thinks Arthur, remembering that he has not yet decided whether to represent Judge Dodgy...

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Family Lore Clinic 2: Does property abroad need to be declared in a consent order?

When you apply to a court for a consent order to be drawn up to give effect to an agreed financial/property settlement on divorce, you must file with the court a Statement of Information form, setting out brief details of the parties' circumstances and means, as explained in this previous post.

The Statement must include details of ALL property, and therefore details of property abroad must be included.

Property abroad is part of the property to be taken into account in the divorce settlement, and it is quite possible for any agreement regarding that property to be included in the consent order.

Note that failure to include details of all property could result in proceedings being brought against you for contempt of court, for making a false statement.

Again, if you require specfic advice, then you should consult a specialist family lawyer.

Family Lore Clinic 1: Can I take my son to court to see my grandchild?

I assume that the situation that the poser of this question finds themself in is that their grandchild lives with their son, who is refusing to allow them to have contact with the grandchild.

The answer to the question is yes, you can take your son (and the child's mother) to court to seek a contact order, although you will first need the permission of the court to make the application.

For further details regarding applications for contact by grandparents, see this post.

If you require specfic advice, then you should consult a specialist family lawyer.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

News Update: 4th of June 2013

WELCOME to this week's Family Lore News Update.

'Debt problems may fuel divorce among older couples'
Elderly couples who struggle with debt are more than twice as likely to suffer marriage breakdown than those whose finances are steady, research suggests. Full story: BBC News.

Archbishop of Canterbury: gay marriage bill will undermine family life
Speaking in House of Lords debate, Justin Welby says law will undermine marriage as basis for rearing children. Full story: The Guardian.

Further Imerman judgments determine issues relating to representation of trust beneficiaries and privilege of communications
Settled case provides importance guidance for practitioners [see judgments below]. Full story: Family Law Week.

Gay marriage bill: Lords to debate 'wrecking amendment'
A "wrecking amendment" which seeks to derail the gay marriage bill will be debated in the House of Lords later. Full story: BBC News.

Revised PLO published
The revised Public Law Outline has been published, together with a new Practice Direction 36C. Full story: Pink Tape. See also here, and the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

Gay marriage plan 'paves way for polygamy', says Lord Carey
Same-gender marriage sets a "dangerous precedent" which could lead to sibling marriage or polygamy, says Lord Carey. Full story: BBC News.

Legal aid cuts 'put a generation of children in danger'
A generation of children risks being traumatised by the Government's swingeing legal aid cuts, and youngsters caught in violent homes are already being placed in acute danger, family law experts have revealed. Full story: The Independent.

Marriage makes people happier than six figure salaries and religion
Marriage makes people happier than religious beliefs, earning six-figure salaries and having children, a study for the Office of National Statistics has found for the first time. Full story: The Telegraph.

Moylan J calls for caution when courts make financial orders based on future income
Permission to appeal granted to Husband in financial remedies case [CR v SR]. Full story: Family Law Week.

W (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 606 (19 April 2013)
Application by father for permission to appeal against refusal of his application for unsupervised contact. Permission granted, but appeal dismissed. Full report: Family Law Hub.

Imerman v Imerman [2012] EWHC 4047 (Fam) (17 December 2012)
Directions hearing in respect of an application made by the wife for disclosure by the husband of certain communications in respect of which he claims privilege. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story above.

Z & Ors v News Group Newspapers Ltd & Ors (Judgment 1) [2013] EWHC 1150 (Fam) (07 May 2013)
Application by father to prevent identification of children in case where mother was standing trial for benefit fraud. Reporting restriction order made. Full report: Bailii. See also the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

Z & Ors v News Group Newspapers Ltd & Ors (Judgment 2) [2013] EWHC 1371 (Fam) (21 May 2013)
Judgment dealing with issue of whether a Reporting Restriction Order prohibiting publication of identifying information arising within ongoing criminal proceedings should be varied in the event of the defendant mother being convicted. Full report: Bailii. Again, see also the post by suesspiciousminds, below.

Re M (Contempt of Court) [2013] EWCA (22 May 2013)
Appeal by father against finding of contempt made in his absence. appeal dismissed. Report: Family Law.

Tchenguiz -Imerman v Imerman [2012] EWHC 4277 (Fam) (20 June 2012)
Application made by adult beneficiaries of certain trusts to be joined as parties to financial remedy proceedings. Full report: Bailii. See also the news story above.

J v G [2013] EWHC 1432 (Fam) (26 March 2013)
Application for a parental order under section 54 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 in respect of twins born following a surrogacy arrangement in California. Full report: Bailii.

Z v Z [2013] EWHC 747 (Fam) (22 January 2013)
Judgment in application for recognition of Brazilian adoption relating to two children. Full report: Bailii.

Enforcement under Family Procedure Rules 2010 and self-incrimination privilege
"Mohan v Mohan provides a timely reminder of the law in relation to self-incrimination privilege; but it also suggests that questions about procedure for over enforcement of family proceedings financial orders are some way from being resolved by Family Procedure Rules 2010 and the new provisions of Part 33." Says David Burrows, in this article on Family Law.

European justice scoreboard
"The Law Society Gazette reports, 24 May, that the UK has declined to take part in an EU initiative to launch a "European justice scoreboard", which according to the EU press release is "to promote effective justice systems in the EU"." Says David Hodson. Full article: Family Law.

Vince v Wyatt: the FPR 2010 strikes back?
Sian Cox, barrister, Harcourt Chambers analyses the court’s power to strike out in family proceedings and considers in the light of the Court of Appeal judgment in Vince v Wyatt, the circumstances in which such applications may succeed. Full article: Family Law Week.

Psych versus Psych: A Diagnostic Dispute and the Implications for Expert Witnesses in Family Proceedings
William Tautz, barrister of Tooks Chambers, examines the fundamental challenge to psychiatric diagnosis recently announced by the British Psychological Association and explores its implications for the instruction and cross-examination of expert witnesses in a post-streamlined PLO world. Full article: Family Law Week.

“I hope he gets to / baptising me soon”
Suesspiciousminds looks back at the case Re C (A Child) [2012] EW Misc 15 (CC).

“The peril of Auntie Beryl”
"As the 26 week time limit comes upon us (being introduced by Parliament, the President’s revised PLO guidance [see news story above] and behind the scenes pressure on Courts and Local Authorities via the “Stick of Statistics” ™ - not necessarily in that order), I have been musing about the elephant in the room, of what happens when late in the proceedings, the Court is presented with a suitable relative, Auntie Beryl." Says suesspiciousminds in this post.

“Don’t put your daughter on the stage – if you want to claim Disability Living Allowance for her”
"The High Court have just published twin judgments on an interesting case, relating to reporting restriction orders – Re Z v News Group Newspapers 2013 [above]." Full post: suesspiciousminds.

You have been consulted
Lucy Reed looks at the Government's Transforming Legal Aid consultation. Full post: Pink Tape.