Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Review: The ecstacy and the agony

A couple of things to end the week:

The receipt of the royal seal of approval for the Children and Families Act 2014 yesterday was greeted with an ecstatic avalanche of news stories, press releases and tweets from both the Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice. The powers that be are clearly pleased with themselves, although when I saw this particular item on Twitter:
...I couldn't help wondering whether the 'new law' (26 weeks, 'shared parenting' presumption) will do more to help the government look like it is actually doing something, rather than to help children.

Judge Bellamy
The much-loved Legal Aid Agency (or whatever the body administering legal aid is called these days) has taken a bashing from the judiciary in a couple of recent judgments. First we had Re R (Children: Temporary Leave To Remove From Jurisdiction), in which Judge Bellamy "lambasted the ‘almost impenetrable’ level of bureaucracy faced by solicitors" when dealing with the Agency (see the story about this in the Gazette). Today up popped the case B (a child) (private law fact finding - unrepresented father) (or D v K and B, depending upon where you read the judgment - isn't it about time we standardised case names so that they appeared the same everywhere?), in which His Honour Judge Wildblood QC complained that a father, faced with an allegation by the mother that he had raped her, was refused legal aid by the Agency. As he said: "If ever there was exceptional private law litigation then this must be it." Let us hope that someone at the Agency sees fit to apply a dose of that all-too-rare medicine: common sense.

Have a good weekend.

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