Friday, November 30, 2018

New by me this week on the Stowe Family Law Blog

My posts this week on the Stowe Family Law Blog included:

Can there be anything good about a divorce? - As suggested by Resolution's Good Divorce week campaign.

Racing driver case is a reminder that prenuptial agreements must still be fair - The Kenny Brack case.

I agree with Lord Sumption – well, in part - Considering Lord Sumption's controversial remarks at the annual bar and young bar conference.

A workload challenge and the need for change: the Presidents speak - Looking at the recent speeches of Sir Andrew McFarlane and Sir James Munby.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Divorce law reform urgently needed to reduce impact on children

A family law campaign body has urged the Government to reform divorce law as soon as possible, in order to protect the long-term interests of children of separating couples.

Resolution, a campaign organisation that represents 6,500 family justice professionals, has long championed the need to remove blame from the divorce process. They state that the current fault-based system leads to conflict and confrontation, which is particularly harmful for children.

Over recent years Resolution, along with other organisations, has built a cross-party group of supportive Parliamentarians that have applied pressure on the Government to ensure divorce law in England and Wales reflects other areas of the family justice system which aim to minimise conflict.

Currently, in order to obtain a divorce in England and Wales, couples are required to live apart for at least two years; otherwise one partner must blame the other by alleging adultery or what is commonly referred to as ‘unreasonable behaviour.’

However, the Government recently, and unexpectedly, announced a consultation on reform divorce law, with the Justice Secretary David Gauke MP saying “we think the ‘blame game’ that currently exists helps no one. It creates unnecessary antagonism and anxiety at an already trying time for couples and in particular where there are children.”

Resolution have highlighted findings of a YouGov poll they commissioned, in the same week they submitted response to the Government consultation, hand-delivered at the Ministry of Justice to Lucy Frazer MP, Family Justice Minister.

The YouGov poll found that 79% of the population agree that conflict from divorce or separation can affect negatively children’s mental health, a figure rising to 87% among those whose own parents divorced during childhood. 77% of those surveyed also said that conflict could affect a child’s academic performance and a further two-thirds felt social interactions and the ability to form healthy romantic relationships were also jeopardised by an acrimonious separation.

Margaret Heathcote, National Chair of Resolution, and family lawyer, said:
“We are delighted that the Government is listening to family justice professionals and taking proactive steps towards ending the blame game and modernising divorce law.

“Whilst reform will bring many benefits to separating couples, ultimately it’s the positive difference these changes will have on children that must be at the centre of everyone’s intentions.

“We hope other responses to the consultation will reflect our own view, that it is time to end the blame game as soon as possible.”

Opponents of a move towards a no-fault divorce system claim that this will undermine the value of marriage, and lead to an increase in divorce. However, figures from Scotland, where no-fault divorce was made possible in 2006, suggests no long-term increase in divorce rates since reforms were introduced.

Justice Minister Lucy Frazer MP said:

“The current system of forcing spouses to attribute blame for a divorce leads only to increased conflict and unnecessary confrontation.

“We have committed to scrapping this archaic rule as soon as possible, making the process less acrimonious and helping families look to the future.

“I am pleased so many important stakeholders support our reforms, including Resolution, and we welcome all feedback on our proposals.”

Nigel Shepherd, a former National Chair of Resolution and long-standing campaigner for no-fault divorce said:

“For more than 25 years we’ve been making the case that we need to remove blame from the divorce process. I’m incredibly grateful to the Justice Secretary and Family Justice Minister for looking at our case with an open-mind and agreeing on the need to modernise our divorce law.

“Family lawyers across the country back reform, the public support it and, we know from our correspondence with MPs and Peers of all parties, that there is little – if any – opposition in Parliament.

“We know the Government and Parliament have many demands on its focus and time, but we urge that these much-needed reforms are brought forward as soon as possible”.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats came out in public support for no fault divorce in 2017.

Monday, November 26, 2018

News Essentials: 26th November 2018

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

Families ‘subject to thin, red line decisions’ should be diverted from the courts
Principle of ‘No Order’ should be more readily applied in children cases. Full story: Family Law Week.

Senior family judge calls for attention on process before care applications issued
The process undertaken in the months, weeks and days before a care application is issued is “ripe for attention”, the President of the Family Division has said. Full story: Local Government Lawyer.

Government confirms it will introduce civil partnership legislation in next parliamentary session
Consultation will precede bill. Full story: Family Law Week.

CCMS crisis: domestic violence victims advised to represent themselves
A family solicitor is having to inform domestic violence victims that they must attend court on their own as a result of the latest glitches with the Legal Aid Agency's online legal aid system. Full article: Law Society Gazette.

Family lawyers told to draft court orders on the day
Family lawyers will be expected to come to court with their laptops and draft orders on the day as part of a policy drafted to reduce delays caused by growing workloads and dwindling staff resources. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

C v C [2018] EWHC 3186 (Fam) (22 November 2018)
W's financial remedy application, in which the single issue was the extent to which there should be a departure from equality on the basis of H's post-separation endeavours and his creation of what he asserted to be non-matrimonial property. Full report: Bailii.

Olu-Williams v Olu-Williams [2018] EWHC 2464 (Fam) (21 September 2018)
Application by wife for husband's committal for contempt in failing to comply with specific orders or undertakings in financial remedy proceedings. Full report: Bailii.

WG v HG [2018] EWFC 70 (30 July 2018)
Final hearing of wife's financial remedies claim. Wife awarded £4.05 million, on a clean break basis. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers November/December 2018

The latest issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now published.
In this issue:
  • Data protection – Eduardo Ustaran considers what the GDPR means in practical terms now that the dust has settled
  • Access to law – Daniel Hoadley of the ICLR looks at the state of free case law and asks what we need for open access
  • Irish Resources – Paul McMahon of McMahon Legal describes the online legal information resources available in Ireland
  • Social Media – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words shows how lawyers can improve their online presence using LinkedIn
  • Blogging – Delia Venables looks at the state of legal blogging and offers a selection of good legal blogs
  • Blogging – Nick Holmes considers the various reasons why (some) lawyers should blog
  • Publications – Nick Holmes reviews The Internet, Warts and All by Paul bernal

Crime in 2018 - How Does it Look in England and Wales?

Crime has always been and will always be a part of society. As the years go by and times change, the police are faced with the constant challenge of fighting new crimes, more-so with the arrival of digital technology and cyber-related offences. The authorities in England and Wales have done a fairly decent job of keeping a lid on crime levels, though the challenge is ongoing.

Recent Home Office figures have been rounded up by the Office of National Statistics to show just how crime in England and Wales looks in 2018. While some crimes are falling, there is a rise in some serious violent offences, including knife crime and sexual offences.

Legal specialists at Carter Moore Solicitors have constructed a visual representation of the recorded crime in England and Wales, based on the data released by the Home Office in October 2018.

Crime in England and Wales

Figures revealed how homicide, which includes murder, manslaughter and infanticide, was actually at the highest it’s been for more than 10 years, with a constant rise since 2014. Though this is a clear rise and increase in recorded murders, these numbers are also affected by the number of people caught by the police.

It’s tough to decipher exactly how much this crime has risen in line with how many more people were brought to justice by the authorities. The same goes for the increase in violent crimes and crimes which involve a sharp object or knife - the rates have indeed gone up, but this represents the number of criminals caught by police, so whether or not there are more people committing these crimes remains unseen.

Computer misuse has dipped

Cyber crimes and crimes involving technology are well and truly a part of modern life now. The police recorded a large number of offences connected to computer misuse, for example, though it’s actually down by a substantial 31% (to 1,239,000). In very much the same fashion as mentioned above, this doesn’t offer a clear picture as to whether or not fewer crimes are being committed - more the number of people that have been caught and brought to justice.

Violence and injury

There has been a rise in the number of recorded incidents where someone has been injured through violence, and the ONS figures have claimed that violent crimes involving knives are increasing.

It was recorded that there was a 12% rise in such crimes where a knife or sharp weapon was used, and are connected to crimes such as rape and robbery as well as murder. The BBC reported that there were 40,000 of these crimes documented last year.

Been involved in a crime?

There are thousands of people every day who end up involved in a crime in one way or another. If you have been accused of a crime or you know someone who has, there is help and advice available. Find out more here.

New by me this week on the Stowe Family Law Blog

My posts this week on the Stowe Family Law Blog included:

Baroness Deech’s dangerous Divorce Bill - As being debated today.

The emotional price paid by children for parental conflict - As in the case IX v IY.

Lord Chief Justice reports on the state of the justice system - It doesn’t make entirely happy reading.

Does our financial provision law even need reform? - Or is it already as good as it can be?

Have a good weekend.

Monday, November 19, 2018

News Essentials: 19th November 2018

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

Increase in family law cases causing court backlogs: Lord Chief Justice
‘Still too few judges to absorb all of the increases in case volumes’. Full story: Family Law Week.

Courts to pilot more flexible hours for the benefit of the public
Early and late sittings will be piloted in civil and family courts, giving people greater access to hearings that can fit around their busy lives. Full story: HM Courts & Tribunals Service.

Sir James Munby appointed Chair of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
The Nuffield Foundation has appointed Sir James Munby as Chair of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory. Full story: Nuffield Foundation.

The Family Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2018
These Rules amend the Family Procedure Rules 2010. Statutory Instrument.

Committee stage of Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill scheduled for 23 November
The Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill is scheduled to commence its Committee stage – ie line by line examination of the Bill – in the House of Lords on 23 November. Full story: Family Law Week.

IX v IY [2018] EWHC 3053 (Fam) (16 October 2018)
Final hearing of wife's financial remedies claim in case with estimated assets of £38 million, including consideration of principles of sharing, needs and compensation. Full report: Bailii.

LM v KD [2018] EWHC 3057 (Fam) (12 November 2018)
Appeals in TOLATA and CA Sch 1 proceedings, where the principal question arising was whether jurisdiction in respect of the matters in issue lay, as the wife claimed, with the courts of England and Wales or, as the husband maintained, with the courts of Italy. Full report: Bailii.

K (A Child) [2018] EWCA Civ 2512 (08 August 2018)
Appeal against order refusing to direct local authority to return child to the care of the mother upon his anticipated release from hospital, where he was being treated for meningitis. Appeal allowed. Full report: Bailii.

D, E, F and G (Children : Art 15 - transfer of the proceedings) (Rev 2) [2017] EWHC 3078 (Fam) (19 September 2017)
Care proceedings concerning 4 children. Application for transfer of proceedings to Romania. Application refused. 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 (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Friday, November 16, 2018

My posts this week on the Stowe Family Law Blog

My posts this week on the Stowe Family Law Blog included:

Expert witnesses and radical changes: The President speaks - To the Annual Bond Solon Expert Witness Conference.

Missing husband presumed dead in Egypt - Mr Justice Hayden goes all Agatha Christie in Halford v Halford.

Does justice have to be face-to-face? - Not according to professor Susskind. Apparently.

Private Members’ Bill aims to improve Child Maintenance Service - The Child Maintenance Bill 2017-19.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, November 12, 2018

News Essentials: 12th November 2018

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

President’s Guidance: Addition to Compendium of Standard Family Orders
With the agreement of the President I promulgate three new orders, and an addition to an existing order, to be added with immediate effect to the Compendium of Standard Orders. Full story: Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

Law Society publishes no-deal Brexit guidance on family law
The Law Society has published guidance for solicitors highlighting the changes in civil and commercial co-operation that will occur in the event the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 without a Withdrawal Agreement and transitional arrangements in place, and the steps solicitors should consider in order to prepare their practice for this scenario. Full story: Family Law.

Social services under fire after boy placed into foster care before grandparents knew he was born
Judge says grandparents could have been considered as carers if they were told of boy's existence. Full story: The Independent. See Z v Kent County Council, below.

Pension Advisory Group: Update
The Pension Advisory Group was convened in mid-2017 with the purpose of producing a good practice guide for lawyers and financial experts about the issues relating to pensions on divorce. Full story: Family Law.

S (Care proceedings: Article 15 second transfer) [2018] EWHC 3054 (Fam) (29 October 2018)
Care proceedings. Application by mother for transfer of proceedings to the Republic of Ireland. Application refused. Full report: Bailii.

NN v AS & Ors [2018] EWHC 2973 (Fam) (06 November 2018)
Claim by wife following Egyptian divorce, including determining interests of wider family members in various properties. Full report: Bailii.

HC (A Minor : Deprivation of Liberty) [2018] EWHC 2961 (Fam) (05 November 2018)
Application by LA for court to determine whether 13 year-old's placement constitutes a deprivation of his liberty and, if so, for authorisation. Full report: Bailii.

Z v Kent County Council (Revocation of placement order - Failure to assess Mother's capacity and Grandparents) [2018] EWFC B65 (18 October 2018)
Care proceedings. Placement order revoked and special guardianship orders made in favour of current carers. Full report: Bailii.

D (A child : parental alienation) [2018] EWFC B64 (19 October 2018)
Proceedings regarding arrangements for 13 year old child. Fact-finding hearing considering allegations that the father had abused the child, and that that the mother had systematically alienated the child from the father. Full report: Bailii.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.

Monday, November 05, 2018

News Essentials: 5th November 2018

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

Financial Remedies Pilot extended to eight more court centres
President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has announced that he has given the 'green light' for the pilot to start working in each of these eight courts. Full story: Family Law Week.

Ministry of Justice commits to care leaver covenant
The Secretary of State for Justice has pledged the Ministry of Justice to support the principles of the care leaver covenant, and to provide specified support to help care leavers in their transition from care to independence in order to improve their life chances. Full story: Family Law Week.

Number of children in need rises by 4 per cent since last year
Number of child protection plans rises by 5 per cent. Full story: Family Law Week.

New courts and tribunals media guidance released for staff
HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has released guidance for its staff to help encourage and facilitate media access to the UK’s family and other courts and tribunals. Full story: Family Law.

Home Affairs Committee urges Government to widen forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill
Report recommends end to single Universal Credit payments. Full story: Family Law Week.

Hart v Hart [2018] EWHC 2894 (Fam) (25 October 2018)
Judgment dealing with issue of whether there had been a contempt in relation to the implementation of a financial remedies order. Full report: Bailii.

CD (A Child : Re Hearing of Fact-Finding) [2018] EWHC 2670 (Fam) (28 September 2018)
Care proceedings. Re-hearing of fact-finding to determine cause of injuries to child. Full report: Bailii.

D, (A Child), Re [2018] EWHC 2828 (Fam) (05 October 2018)
Judgment concerning accommodation of child exhibiting extreme behaviour, possibly as a consequence of what she witnessed whilst living in Iraq. Full report: Bailii.

Lomax & Ors v Greenslade [2018] EWHC 2623 (Ch) (23 July 2018)
Appeal against award in Inheritance Act proceedings arising in circumstances where a father had not made provision for his 3 children in the will. At first instance the judge had made an award to the claimant children leaving the defendant with 69k out of 699k. Her appeal was rejected though the awards to the children reduced slightly as a result of fresh evidence about the value of the estate and other costs incurred. Full report: Bailii, via Family Law Hub.

*      *      *
For more news, see here.

For more cases, see here.

To subscribe to the Family Lore Focus free weekly Newsletter (which includes links to all of the week's top family law news stories, cases, articles and blog posts), go here.