Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday Review: All... family... lawed... out...

It's all happening...

The Ministry of Justice has asked the Family Justice Council to take forward the Law Commission’s recommendation to clarify the law of “financial needs” on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. The new guidance is to be published later in the year. Hopefully, this will lead to greater certainty, although it seems slightly odd to me that 'needs' is still being considered in isolation of all of the other s.25 factors.

Unsurprisingly, there has been rather less media interest in the denouement of the 'forced caesarian' case than there was in the opening scenes. On Tuesday the President pulled down what will hopefully be the final curtain, when he made an adoption order in favour of the couple with whom the child has been living since last November.

The Legal Services Consumer Panel has today publishing the first-ever detailed study into the emerging market of fee-charging McKenzie Friends. The watchdog has ruled out statutory regulation, which seems remarkable to me, considering the level of regulation of the legal profession. In particular, I understand that there are to be no qualification requirements and no insurance requirements. No disrespect to all the good MFs out there, but this really does smack of a second-class service for second-class citizens, i.e. those who cannot afford full legal representation.

Moving on, Sir Paul Coleridge (left) is moving on. He is retiring from the judiciary, following his chastisement by the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office last December, after giving interviews and writing a newspaper article about his beliefs in support of traditional marriage. His retirement is a bad thing on two counts. Firstly, we are losing an otherwise highly regarded judge and secondly, he will now be free to promote his backward views on marriage without fear of falling foul of the JCIO.

Lastly, but by no means leastly, today marks the last day of the old regime. On Tuesday the revolution of the new family court and all the other reforms of the family justice system will be upon us, and such things as the Family Proceedings Court and s.41 MCA will be consigned to the guillotine. All of the changes have entailed enough new law to make even the most hardened revolutionary wonder whether it was all worth it, as a look at my last post will confirm. I for one am all family-lawed out - and I am (thankfully) no longer practising.

Still, at least we all have the Easter break ahead, during which we can re-charge our batteries. Have a good one.

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