Friday, February 27, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: Dictionary of Financial Remedies, 2015 Edition

Dictionary of Financial Remedies

Hess, Duckworth & Max

£50 - Published by Class Legal: February 2015

Can it really be fifteen months since I reviewed the first edition of the Dictionary of Financial Remedies? It can and it is.

What is new in this edition? Well, it has apparently "been fully updated as at the 1st January 2015 to reflect changes brought in by the implementation of the Family Court and a host of important cases since publication of the first edition in October 2013." There is also a brief revised foreword by The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby.

Subject to those updates, and without comparing the text of one edition alongside the other, the actual content of the 2015 Edition of the Dictionary seems pretty similar to the first edition, certainly in terms of subjects covered. All the old entries are there, plus three new ones, on criminal confiscations and restraint orders, Mostyn J's Efficient Conduct of Financial Remedy Final Hearings statement and judgment summons.

As it is similar to the first edition, I am not going to comment upon the content of the new edition - you can simply refer to my previous review for that (a full list of the contents is here). Instead, I thought that as it is intended as a reference book rather than a textbook, a more helpful thing to do would be to try to evaluate the usefulness of the Dictionary generally by recalling how often I have referred to it in the last fifteen months. The answer is quite a lot, and I am not practising - I suspect that anyone who is would refer to it considerably more.

Provided that it is recognised that the Dictionary is intended more as an aide-mémoire, rather than a comprehensive reference, then I think all family lawyers who engage in financial remedies work would benefit from its presence on their bookshelf (or, indeed, in their briefcase/bag).

Dictionary of Financial Remedies can be purchased from Class Legal, here. A digital edition is also available via Class Legal's website.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Press Releases

I receive many requests to publish press releases, so I thought I would write a short post to explain my policy regarding them.

I am happy to consider publishing any press releases that I think may be of interest to readers of Family Lore, but normally only if they are from not-for-profit organisations (other organisations can pay for advertising!). Accordingly, if you work for such an organisation and have a press release that you think may be of interest, please feel free to email it to me at john[@] Please note that I reserve the right to decide what to publish, and I won't keep publishing every release from the same organisation if they are too frequent!

Government must shoulder blame as 7 Grandparents a day seek court order to see grandchildren

Jane Robey
As data shows that seven Grandparents a day made applications for a court order to see a grandchild after the divorce or separation of the child’s parents last year, a leading family charity says the government must shoulder blame for the lack of information and education about alternative approaches to settling family disputes.

2,517 court applications were made in 2014 by grandparents for Child Arrangement Orders or Contact Orders (enabling a child to spend time with a named person).

Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, said: “The fact is that grandparents have no automatic right to be part of their grandchild’s life.

“A divorce or separation can shatter grandparents’ lives as much as the couple involved, because it can mean contact with the grandchildren they love is suddenly blocked.

“Making an approach to court should be used only as a last resort by anxious grandparents. Our worry is that the huge majority of the 2,517 grandparents applying for court orders in 2014 knew nothing about the alternative options available to them. The family court system is a huge expense to the taxpayer, and Government must bear its share of the blame for the lack of information and education about alternative ways to resolve family disputes, including family mediation.

“The Government says it wants to keep family disputes out or court wherever possible. It can certainly talk the talk, but it needs to do more to walk the walk.

“Family mediation is often the best way for grandparents to resume the contact they so badly want with family members.

“Our experience is that, since changes to legal aid two years ago, many grandparents who would previously have qualified for legal aid to take the case to court, are no longer able to get this financial support to fight their case. Yet legal aid does remain available for mediation – a further advantage in pursuing disputes this way that is also ‘undersold’ by the Government.”

Free information leaflet

As the largest provider of family mediation in England and Wales, NFM has made available a free leaflet aimed specifically at grandparents in this situation. Copies can be obtained by calling 0300 4000 636 or downloaded free online at

“Grandparents who feel unable to contact the adults who care for their grandchild can approach a mediation service for help,” Jane Robey added. “Experienced mediators can discuss with them the best way of inviting their relatives to participate in a mediation process which is usually quicker, cheaper and far less stressful than going to court.

“Professionally trained mediators will help you negotiate with your family and help you to reach a settlement for future relationships with your grandchild.”

The data was issued by Justice Minister Simon Hughes in a Written Parliamentary Answer. The full information can be seen here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

A cumbersome, time-consuming & costly civil justice system

… but families are composed of people, not IT systems

Commenting on today’s Civil Justice Council report which recommends establishing Online Dispute Resolution, the CEO of National Family Mediation, Jane Robey, said:

“In making its recommendations for Online Dispute Resolution, the Civil Justice Council has rightly drawn attention to a civil justice system that is too often cumbersome and time-consuming for the public, and costly to the public purse.

“If implemented, this report’s recommendations could represent an important step in pulling the civil justice system by its bootstraps into the 21st century.

“As the leading family mediation provider in England and Wales we are keen to promote cheaper, quicker, less stressful methods for disputes to be settled, and it is in that spirit that we welcome today’s report.

“We agree with the report’s recommendation that in time an internet-based court service could be extended to suitable family disputes.

“It is important to be clear, however, that whilst online resolution might help sort out the nub of many issues, it is usually better for children if their parents can maintain some sort of face-to-face relationship after their separation. If the process of resolving family disputes were to become purely an online one, then the prospect of maintaining human contact could be diminished.

“Families are composed of people, not IT devices. We need to remain mindful of this as systems are developed.”

The Civil Justice Council report, Online Dispute Resolution for low value civil claims, is available here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I've got nothing to say but it's OK

I thought I would join in with the trend of using song lyrics for a post title (OK, I admit I used to be guilty it myself many moons ago). As for the above words, well I haven't posted much hereabouts this week as I have said everything I wanted to over on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog, including the following:

The essence of a Hague Convention case - The judgment of Lord Justice Davis in U-B (A Child). (Please note that the emboldening of various expressions in the post was not my idea.)

The reality of child abduction to this country - Following on from the above, I look at some statistics.

Is centralised divorce really going to create a better system? - A post that, well, asks that question, in the light of the latest information from HMCTS. (Again, note that the various emboldened (and italicised) expressions in the post are not mine.)

It almost certainly doesn’t matter why the marriage broke down - A thought that occurred whilst reading the latest judgment in Lindner v Rawlins (note that the words 'almost certainly' were in my original title to the post, for good reason).

Have a good weekend.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Life is short. Definitely don't have an affair.


London, 8th February 2015: Venal & Grabbit, the country's top divorce lawyers, wish to make it clear that in no way do they endorse the extra-marital affair dating website Ashley Madison.

Senior Partner Lord Edgar Venal said: "The news in the Independent today that one million Britons have signed up to the Ashley Madison website is quite shocking.

"I am utterly appalled about the website Ashley Madison. The idea of a site like Ashley Madison that will arrange an illicit affair for you without your spouse knowing anything whatsoever about it is quite abhorrent. And, despite the fact that their fees are exceptionally reasonable, there is no way that I could possibly endorse a site like Ashley Madison.

"I'm sure that some people might find an illicit affair of the type that Ashley Madison arrange to be highly pleasurable and a break from the utter tedium of life with their spouse, but there is no way that I would agree with that.

"In short I would say: whatever you do, do not be tempted by the extremely discreet extra-marital affair dating website Ashley Madison."


Friday, February 06, 2015


This week on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog I venture to faraway places, including Canada, the USA and, er... Scotland:

Canadian experience of litigants in person rings a bell - A report from Canada seems strangely familiar.

Judges are human too - Despite recent criticisms.

Scottish children appeal echoes our own - The Court of Session decision H v H.

Should grandparents pay child support? - As is the case in some parts of the US of A (and other great American ideas to recover child support).

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

News from NFM: ‘Major failure’ decimated family mediation provision, just when it was most needed, report concludes

Commenting on a new report on civil legal aid reforms, published today by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, National Family Mediation Chief Executive Jane Robey said:

“The report rightly criticises the government’s failure to see how removing legal aid funding would reduce the number of referrals from solicitors to family mediation.

“As the report states, family mediation enables family disputes to be resolved through mediation in a way that is ‘cheaper, quicker and, according to academic research, less acrimonious than those that are settled through the courts.’

“But there was a major failure at government level to promote these key advantages to people who need to be steered away from what has become, over the past 30 years or so, the traditional ‘solicitor-family court’ route for divorcing couples.

“As far as family mediation is concerned, the government was in denial about the impact assessment undertaken prior to implementation of the Act. And as we had predicted – and warned them - it led to the near-collapse of what had previously been a strong nationwide family mediation network.

“The government too slowly learned the lessons taught by the devastating impact of legal aid cuts.

“Whilst the introduction of compulsory mediation awareness meetings (MIAMs) in April 2014 was a step in the right direction, this law change came 386 days after the legal aid cuts were implemented. This gap led to the collapse of a number of mediation services which found that the flow of referrals had simply dried up. These were the very organisations that were best-placed to assist the government in delivering the cultural shift from courtroom battle to family mediation that it sought.

“Legislation that should have meant more opportunities for mediation providers had the reverse effect.

“National Family Mediation members have been picking up the pieces and, whilst the journey has been a turbulent one, the tireless work of services which survived has begun to put them on the road to recovery.”

The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts report, Implementing reforms to civil legal aid, is available here.