Monday, September 28, 2015

News Essentials: 28th September 2015

A brief summary of the essential family law news and cases from the last week:

Mediation starts in the last quarter up by a third
Legal aid statistics published for April to June 2015. Full story: Family Law Week.

Family court statistics published for second quarter of 2015
The Ministry of Justice has published its most recent statistical bulletin presenting statistics relating to family courts. Full story: Family Law.

Lord Bach to lead review into Legal Aid
Lord Falconer, Labour’s Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Justice Secretary, today announced that Labour has appointed Lord (Willy) Bach to carry out an immediate review into legal aid. Full story: Family Law.

Police given advice on spotting domestic abuse patterns
Police officers will receive specialist advice on how to spot patterns of domestic abuse under new guidance. Full story: BBC News.

'Foster children harmed by frequent moves'
Vulnerable children are too often shuttled between foster homes, harming them further, says a charity. Full story: BBC News.

Re NRA and Ors [2015] EWCOP 59 (25 September 2015)
Ten cases seeking welfare orders under s. 16(2)(a) MCA, to authorise deprivation of liberty created by the implementation of care package upon which the welfare orders are based. Full report: Family Law.

T (A Child : Early Permanence Placement) [2015] EWCA Civ 983 (24 September 2015)
Appeal in care proceedings, in which local authority abandoned its plan for adoption in favour of a placement with the paternal grandparents under a special guardianship order. Full report: Bailii.

Dad, Re [2015] EWHC 2655 (Fam) (15 September 2015)
Application to commit father for breach of collection order. Full report: Bailii.

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For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter, go here.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The show must go on

Continuing to battle manfully against the noise, stress and general aggravation of having a new kitchen fitted, I once again managed to get some posts written for Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog this week, including:

Publicity v privacy in financial remedy cases - A few thoughts of my own to add to the current debate.

Privacy in the internet age - The problems faced by Mr Justice MacDonald in  H v A (No 2).

The police response to domestic violence - Looking at the new domestic abuse guidance for the police.

When a court order is not complied with - Looking at two contrasting committal judgments published this week, Re Dad and Cheltenham Borough Council v Nield.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Book Review: Good Practice in Child Care Cases, 3rd Edition

Good Practice in Child Care Cases, 3rd Edition

£39.95 – Published by Law Society Publishing: August 2015

There are undoubtedly benefits of working from home. However, there are also downsides. One of which is that it is extremely difficult to concentrate when work is being done (in this case, a complete new kitchen) in the room next door, including power cuts and other inconveniences. I had intended to leave this review until the work was done, but as it is now clear that the work is likely to take rather longer than originally anticipated, I thought I would go ahead now, albeit in a much briefer form, particularly as the EPUB version of this book is due for publication next week.

I have, of course, previously reviewed the 2nd edition of Good Practice in Child Care Cases (it seems remarkable that nearly five years have elapsed since then), so I would refer the reader to that for an explanation of what this volume is about, rather than repeating myself. (In short, to quote the cover blurb, the book is "a concise guide to best practice for solicitors acting in public law Children Act cases, whether they are acting for a local authority, parent, or a child".)

So, what is new about the 3rd edition? At first glance, not a lot. The two volumes are of almost identical length, and the contents of each are similar, with the newer edition having an extra chapter on legal aid and costs information, but fewer appendices. As to the latter, we of course now have the updated PLO (contained in PD 12A) and the CAP (PD 12B).

Looking a little deeper I have, in the short time available to me, attempted to compare the main text of the two editions. It has not been possible to compare word for word (a task I wouldn't have undertaken even if I had had the time!), so I have just picked a few sections at random. The clear impression from this exercise is that the text, even if not revised, has been subjected to a thorough review, to reflect the many changes that have affected child care work over the last five years. The new edition may look like the old, but it is very different 'under the hood'.

As Sir James Munby points out in the foreword, Good Practice in Child Care Cases is a supplement to the Law Society's Family Law Protocol, the fourth edition of which is due to be published on the 30th of October. Clearly, just as the Protocol is an essential fixture on the bookshelves of all family lawyers, Good Practice in Child Care Cases is also essential for child care practitioners.

Good Practice in Child Care Cases is available from the Law Society bookshop, in either hardcopy (paperback) or (from the 23rd of September) EPUB form.

Cooking with gas

Despite the noise, stress and general aggravation of having a new kitchen fitted, I managed to get some posts written for Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog this week, including:

A peek at the work of a family court judge - Via 13 published judgments of Her Honour Judge Moir.

Can pro bono fill the legal aid gap? - Read the post for the answer.

Can family law be mechanised? - Or, to put it another way, are robotic family lawyers the future of family law?

When involved in court proceedings, don’t be difficult - Lessons from the recent cases Welch v Welch and DL v SL.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, September 14, 2015

FREE Family law session open to all - find out how the Family Court works

Family Law and HHJ Stephen Wildblood QC
Thursday, 1 October 2015 from 16:30 to 18:00 (BST)
Bristol, United Kingdom

Event Details

What does the Family Court do? ... This is your chance to find out.

Join His Honour Judge Stephen Wildblood QC, designated family judge for the Bristol area, and a panel of legal experts to hear about how the Family Court works, what to expect and where to get helpful information.

Find out what the Family Court does, what it's like going to Court and what to expect in terms of: paper work, giving evidence and the hearing process in general.

Get information about Legal Aid, the support available when you attend Court by yourself and alternatives to the Court process.

This will be an opportunity for you to come to the court building and ask questions about the practice of the Family Court.*

Who should attend?
  • Anyone interested in finding out more about the Family Court
  • All professionals in the field of family law
  • Journalists
  • Students 

Other materials covered
  • What are Private Law Orders and upon what basis are they decided? 
  • Public Law Orders (Supervision, Care, Placement and other Orders)
  • Civil Partnership and Divorcing Couples
  • Who decides on Cases?
  • What happens after a case? 

The panel
  • HHJ Stephen Wildblood QC
  • Louise Tickle, Journalist
  • Judi Evans, Barrister, St John's Chambers
  • Zahid Hussain, Barrister, St John's Chambers
  • Emma Whewell, Senior Lecturer in Law, UWE

Numbers are limited so book here as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

*Please note that individual cases will not be discussed.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers September/October 2015

The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published.

In this issue
  • Can ODR deliver better access to justice?
  • The intellectual property revolution
  • Getting the best from GOV.UK
  • Introducing eDisclosure and eSignatures
  • Free case law resources online
  • Five free (or low cost) digital marketing tools
  • What is the Deep Web?
  • New Internet for Lawyers courses from Nick and Delia
Access the Newsletter online

Blogging and the art of saying something interesting. Hopefully.

I hope that readers found something of interest in my posts on Marilyn Stowe’s Family Law & Divorce Blog this week, which included:

Court refuses return of child to mother despite blatant abduction - The case Re TP (A Child).

Even the state is subject to the due process of law - As demonstrated by HB (A Child) (care proceedings).

Reading down and the art of the possible - A lesson from Re Z (A Child : Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act : parental order).

Child care epidemic - A thought occurs to me whilst collating Family Lore Case Digest.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Re Z (A Child): Parental order cannot be made on application of single parent

Sir James Munby
A very quick note on Re Z (A Child : Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act : parental order) [2015] EWFC 73, handed down today.

The case raised two simple questions: section 54(1) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 provides that in certain circumstances the court may make a parental order on the application of "two people" - is it open to the court to make such an order on the application of one person? Can section 54(1) be 'read down' in accordance with section 3(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998 so as to enable that to be done? The President has held that the answer to each question is clear: "No".

The case concerned a child, Z, conceived in the USA with the applicant father's sperm and a third party donor's egg implanted in an experienced unmarried American surrogate mother. The father has since returned to this country, bringing Z with him. He then applied for a parental order.

It was argued on behalf of the father that the requirement in section 54(1) of the 2008 Act that an application for a parental order can be made only by two people is a discriminatory interference with a single person's rights to private and family life, which is therefore inconsistent with Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention. The father's primary position was that there is in fact no incompatibility, because the relevant provisions of section 54 can properly be 'read down' in accordance with section 3(1) of the Human Rights Act:
"So far as it is possible to do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights."
The President was unable to agree. S.3(1) did not entitle the court when interpreting legislation to adopt a meaning inconsistent with a fundamental feature of the legislation, and:
"Given that a parental order is a creature of statute, given that this part of the statutory scheme goes to the core question, the crucially important question, of who, for this purpose, can be a parent, this consistent statutory limitation on the ambit of the statutory scheme always has been, and remains, in my judgment, a "fundamental feature", a "cardinal" or "essential" principle of the legislation..."
Accordingly, the father's application failed in limine. As a single parent, as a sole applicant, the father could not bring himself within section 54(1) of the 2008 Act.

Friday, September 04, 2015