Friday, June 28, 2013

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.

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