News Essentials: 27th March 2021

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


Freelance journalist loses latest round of litigation over access to social services family court file
A freelance journalist who wants to examine a file of evidence relating to a girl who was at the centre of private family court proceedings has lost another round of a legal fight. Full story: Care Appointments.

£1 million voucher scheme to help families resolve disputes outside of court
Separating parents will be helped to avoid stressful court battles through a new million-pound mediation scheme launched by the government today (26 March 2021). Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Recovery message from the President of the Family Division
On 22 March 2021 the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, published the following letter. Full story: Family Law Week.

Cafcass publishes organisational guidance on working with children through Covid-19
Cafcass has published a guide to direct contact with children and families, working in the office, and attendance at court. Full story: Family Law Week.

Court fees set to increase for the first time in five years
Court fees across the civil and family jurisdictions are set to increase as the government seeks millions more to fund the service. Full story: Law Society Gazette.

Practice Direction update 2 (2021): Family Procedure Rules 2010
This new pilot Practice Direction 36V reflects the existence of the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme, launching 26 March 2021. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Domestic abuse: Women 'could die in unregulated refuges'
Domestic abuse support groups have warned that women will be unsafe if unregulated refuges are allowed to continue offering accommodation. Full story: BBC News.

Family Court Statistics Quarterly: October to December 2020
Quarterly and annual data on the volume of cases dealt with by family courts over time, with statistics also broken down for the main types of case involved. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Legal aid statistics quarterly: October to December 2020
Activity in the legal aid system for England and Wales, including criminal and civil legal aid and family mediation. Full story: Ministry of Justice.

Outcomes for children in need, including children looked after by local authorities, in England: 2019 to 2020
A range of outcome measures at national and local authority level for children in need, including children looked after by local authorities in England. Full story: Department for Education.

Separated families statistics: April 2014 to March 2020
Estimates relating to separated families and their child maintenance arrangements. Full story: Department for Work and Pensions.

Courts face increase in care decisions where social workers are concerned about overweight children
Family court judges might be asked to consider more cases in which social workers are concerned about children’s weight, a lawyer has said. Full story: Care Appointments.

Teenager at high risk of sexual exploitation moved to specialist unit for her own protection
A woman in her late teens who has a learning difficulty and a history of being sexually abused by men is under close supervision at a specialist unit for her own protection, a judge has heard. Full story: Care Appointments.

Child Maintenance Service statistics: data to December 2020 (experimental)
Quarterly experimental statistics on the Child Maintenance Service to December 2020. Full story: Department for Work and Pensions.

Coronavirus: Domestic abuse an 'epidemic beneath a pandemic'
A massive increase in appeals for help over the past year from those suffering domestic abuse has exposed the scale of the problem, say campaigners. Full story: BBC News.

Supreme Court allows mother’s appeal in 1980 Hague Convention / asylum case
The Supreme Court has held that a child who can objectively be understood to be an applicant for asylum cannot be returned to the country from which he or she has sought refuge before the final determination of the asylum claim. Full story: Family Law Week.

New film to mark the launch of an agenda for change in Special Guardianship
A new training film on special guardianship for sector professionals was launched at an online event on Monday, 15 March, with speakers including Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division; Josh MacAlister, Chair of the Independent Review of Children's Social Care; and Krish Kandiah, Chair of the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board. Full story: Family Law Week.

Home Affairs Committee announces inquiry into Violence Against Women and Girls
The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has announced an inquiry following the tragic death of Sarah Everard and the raising of safety concerns by women across the country. Full story: Family Law Week.

Ombudsman issues guide for dealing with children’s statutory complaints
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has launched a new guide to help local authorities handle complaints under the children's services statutory complaints process. Full story: Family Law Week.

Children in care homes: Education Committee launches call for written evidence
The House of Commons Education Committee has launched a call for written evidence as part of its inquiry into children's homes. Full story: Family Law Week.

Children’s Commissioner launches ‘Beveridge Report for children’
Dame Rachel de Souza, the new Children's Commissioner for England, has launched a 'once-in-a-generation' review of the future of childhood. Full story: Family Law Week.

Almost all young women in the UK have been sexually harassed, YouGov poll finds
Ninety-seven per cent of women in the UK between the ages of 18 and 24 say that they have been sexually harassed, whilst 80 per cent of women of all ages say that they have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces. Full story: Family Law Week.


H (A Child), Re [2020] EWFC B63 (28 August 2020)
Fact-finding in child arrangements proceedings, involving in particular allegations of controlling behaviour against the father. Full report: Bailii.

M (Special Guardianship Order: Leave To Apply To Discharge) [2021] EWCA Civ 442 (26 March 2021)
Appeal concerning the test for granting leave to apply to discharge an SGO, and the circumstances in which an application for a Child Arrangements Order can be summarily dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

AB v CD & Ors [2021] EWHC 741 (Fam) (26 March 2021)
Application by mother for declaration that she and father have the ability in law to consent on behalf of child to the administration of puberty blockers. Full report: Bailii.

Wakefield Metropolitan District Council v HR & Ors [2020] EWFC 100 (27 November 2020)
Fact-finding hearing in care proceedings, relating to injuries suffered by 3 year-old child. Full report: Bailii.

London Borough of Lewisham, v RS & Ors [2021] EWHC 740 (Fam) (17 March 2021)
Judgment in care and child arrangements proceedings concerning 16 year-old child. Full report: Bailii.

RD v TJ (Relocation - BIIA - Transitional Provisions) [2021] EWHC 489 (Fam) (12 February 2021)
Final hearing of application by mother for leave permanently to remove child from the jurisdiction to live in Poland. Full report: Bailii.

P, Re [2021] EWFC B13 (11 February 2021)
Final hearing in care proceedings concerning a baby whose two older siblings had already been the subject of separate proceedings. Full report: Bailii.

Newman v Southampton City Council & Ors [2021] EWCA Civ 437 (25 March 2021)
Appeal from order refusing to permit journalist to have access to documents held by Local Authority relating to care and placement proceedings in relation to a girl who is now 8 years of age. Appeal dismissed. Full report: Bailii.

CGM v Luton Council [2021] EWHC 709 (Admin) (23 March 2021)
JR proceedings by father seeking permission to challenge LA's failure to seek from the High Court (a) an authorisation to deprive his daughter of her liberty and (b) consequential annual reviews by a judge of her confinement. Full report: Bailii.

Z (Parental Order: Child's Home) [2021] EWHC 29 (Fam) (15 January 2021)
Application for parental order in relation to child born as a result of an international surrogacy arrangement. Full report: Bailii.

Z (Care Proceedings: Surrogacy) [2021] EWHC 589 (Fam) (12 January 2021)
Application by LA to withdraw care proceedings in relation to a 13 month old child born as a result of a surrogacy arrangement. Full report: Bailii.

F v G [2021] EWFC B12 (21 December 2020)
Judgment in child arrangements proceedings concerning 2 children, and whether they should live with the father in London or the mother in the countryside. Full report: Bailii.

DD, Re (Inward Return Order) [2021] EWHC 607 (Fam) (11 March 2021)
Application by father under inherent jurisdiction for return of 16 year-old child from USA. Agreed that child should remain in US, in light of her wishes. Full report: Bailii.

Thurrock Council v M & Ors (Withdrawal of Care Proceedings) [2021] EWFC 22 (10 March 2021)
Care proceedings concerning 2 children, following the death of their sibling. Application by LA to withdraw, after receipt of expert evidence regarding cause of child's death. Full report: Bailii.