Friday, September 06, 2013

Friday Review: That awful family justice system...


Notable things this week:

The Mail on Sunday reported that figures released under a Freedom of Information request show that more than 4,000 child protection plans were initiated last year in England for unborn babies, a 13 per cent increase over two years. Given what we already know about the increase in care applications since Baby P, this cannot be surprising. No doubt the usual arguments will follow over whether this is another example of the state snatching children or simply being more vigilant.

On Tuesday The Guardian reported that experts have warned that online trolling against women is linked to domestic violence and abuse, and that abuse of women on sites such as Twitter should not be dismissed as harmless. I'm sure all family lawyers have come across violent men who then go online to continue the abuse of their former partners, but the suggestion here seems to be that the reverse is also true: men who use the internet to abuse women are likely to become domestic abusers (the article makes no mention of violence/abuse against men).

Another disgruntled ex-husband has complained that the courts are biased in favour of wives, or in this case "badly behaved" wives. This would probably not be news but for the fact that the case involves not just a lot of money, but also a well-known footballer. Given the shenanigans in the football transfer market this week, particularly the Gareth Bale transfer saga, the case is also interesting for the fact that said footballer was apparently "not as wealthy as people believed". Perhaps he should have gone to Real Madrid, rather than Barcelona...

It will never satisfy the 'corrupt secret children's courts' brigade, but our esteemed President has called for more transparency in the family courts. This was the Re J (A Child) case, in which Sir James set out his views on the issue, in particular that there should be "more speech, not enforced silence", so that public confidence in the system is restored.  As for those with an anti-family justice system agenda, he said tellingly:
"The publicist ... may be an unprincipled charlatan seeking to manipulate public opinion by feeding it tendentious accounts of the proceedings. But freedom of speech is not something to be awarded to those who are thought deserving and denied to those who are thought undeserving."
Interesting stuff, but if the people believe the 'unprincipled charlatan' (I will mention no names) then how will that restore public confidence?

And finally, I do not have a tweet of the week this week, partly because I have been away for a couple of days and took a break from Twitter (in fact, from the internet completely). It has done wonders for my sanity - I highly recommend it.

Have a good weekend.

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