Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘family law’

Further to my previous post, I am en route back to the sticks having thrown my two penn’orth in the general direction of the Family Justice Review Panel (I got ’em, right between the eyes). I was somewhat surprised to find that the session was ‘private’ (and apparently not recorded), and so I will not report it’s contents here until clarification on that is received (jokes about the transparency of the family justice system on a postcard please). BUT:  in light of this evidence session, can I urge everybody to consider with renewed vigour to PLEASE respond to the review? It is more important and more serious than you may imagine. We 8 lawyers were asked to contribute orally in an hour and a half and, predictably enough for a room full of lawyers with a short time estimate, were falling over each other to respond to the serious points raised – we could not hope to address the issues fully in that format and the written representations will be crucial.  Over the next little while I will be posting some blog posts to focus minds on issues which the Review are likely to address. No doubt the FLBA and other associations will be consulting more widely over the summer on the matters discussed today (as far as permitted) in advance of presenting their written representations.

.

Apologies for the slightly ridiculous cloak and dagger approach. But know this:  there are no givens. Change is a comin’.

POST SCRIPT 5 AUG: Although I have not had time to post further, the Panel confirmed that they have no objection to wider discussion of the issues raised for discussion at the evidence session I attended. I will be posting shortly about that.

Read Full Post »

A colleague emails:

…When looking through the LibDem manifesto this week, I noticed an express commitment, buried deep in the document at page 52, which may be of some interest (and reads, as follows)….
“The Liberal Democrats will “introduce a default contact arragangement, which would divide the child’s time between their two parents in the event of a family breakdown, if there is no threat to the safety of the child”
I’m wondering (a) what the default position will be (b) how many cases I have had in the last 4 years where a care and contact pattern has not been completely tailored to the circumstances of the particular family (less than 1 hand of fingers) and (c) how it would be implemented….?”

He’s right on the nail there as far as I can see. But I don’t see the other two parties as being exactly a family lawyer’s dream party either, so this won’t change my vote.

.

The Lib Dems will also incorporate the UN Convention on the rights of a child into UK law, publish anonymised Serious Case Reviews and they make a number of generalised pledges about such things as the reduction of child poverty.

Thanks AC for the heads up.

Read Full Post »

The Legal Services Board have today lifted the restrictions on barristers accepting instructions directly from members of the public in family work.  Previously under the Public Access Scheme barristers who, like me, had completed Public Access Training were prohibited from advising or representing clients in family matters (except in very very limited circumstances) or in immigration or criminal cases.

.

Although barristers are still not permitted to conduct litigation, and although many family cases will remain unsuitable for the instruction of a barrister without a solicitor being involved, in the right case a client may be able to significantly reduce her legal costs by instruction of a barrister direct.

.

You can find detailed information on the changes and how they are likely to operate in practice in the revised Guidance material here on the LSB website. The Guidance indicates that cases involving children are likely to be unsuitable for this kind of instruction, but whilst no doubt this is correct there will be instances where it will work perfectly well, for example perhaps where a litigant in person wishes to continue representing himself in respect of a children matter but wishes to obtain a one off written opinion or guidance about the future of the case or how he should go about things, which may well be cheaper than retaining a solicitor or even simply asking them for ad hoc advice.

I am in a minority of family barristers qualified to offer these new services to date, and I expect to be dusting off my Public Access File in the coming months…

Read Full Post »

Charon QC is right. I have to comment on Jack Straw’s apparent reluctance to appoint Lord Justice Wall as the new President of the Family Division, reported on here by The Times. It is difficult to think of any reason for Mr Straw’s request that the appointment panel reconsider other than Wall LJ’s willingness to speak frankly about the state of the family justice system. Thinking back to Wall LJ’s speech about ‘coming off the bench’ in the latter part of last year one imagines a change of tack would be likely if Wall were to succeed the current President Mark Potter.

Although I have taken some time to post this since the story first broke I can find no fresher information than the Times report linked to above, so I assume there is no further announcement as yet.  Cutting it a bit fine eh?

Read Full Post »

I have sought the guidance of the Geek and there is hope for the family bar after all…Apparently I need first to ditch hubby number one and find a more…uh…economically viable on. I KNEW I was missing a big part of the economic equation that made this job worth it. The solution is so simple. Thanks GL and happy 2010.

Read Full Post »

In June I posted a short entry on the family law week blog about some research commissioned by solicitors Mischcon De Reya into the impact of the Children Act 1989 on children who had been involved in proceedings in the 20 years since its implementation. My source was a press release from the solicitors’ firm, summarising the research findings. I noted that the research itself had not yet been published, and that I would post a link to the full research when it was published. In fact I never had time to chase this up but it is now clear that the research behind the press release has not been published.

.

Last week a further press release was issued stating that Mischon De Reya had commissioned a ‘landmark’ study of 4,000 people (in fact the figure of 4,000 is made up of the original survey of 2,000 former subject children plus a subsequent and separate survey of 2,000 parents) which produced some ‘staggering’ results. The story made it onto Today programme, where Mischon De Reya were given a 3 minute slot during which the contents of the press release were rehearsed. The press release contained a summary of the findings of the research (although the findings set out related only to the to the second ‘adult’ survey and therefore the percentage figures were of a smaller sample than was at first glance apparent). By lunch time the press release had reached the judiciary – I know this because the judge in my hearing quoted it as ‘new research’ and handed me a copy.

.

The findings set out in the press release are, to adopt the author’s own terminology ‘staggering’. I won’t bother to set them out in this post, you can find the press release regurgitated almost verbatim by the BBC here. My initial reaction to these findings was to wonder what on earth the participants were asked and in what context in order to elicit the responses attributed to them – surely the ‘staggering 20% of separated parents’ who ‘admitted that they had actively set out to make their partners experience ‘as unpleasant as possible’ regardless of the effect this had on their children’s feelings‘ had not been asked ‘Have you actively set out to make your partner’s experience a unpleasant as possible regardless of the effect this had on your children’s feelings?’ – but if not, what were they asked and how were these statistical results reached? The Government itself responded to the survey with the (fair) comment that the study appeared to include those involved in Children Act proceedings over a very long period, partially prior to the implementation of recent innovations, and that it may therefore be out of date.

.

I think that it is legitimate to want to probe these assertions and the studies’ methodology in order to form a view about how reliable they are or what value they have in helping us to formulate policy. And rather than simply report the press release as I did in June, I wanted to be able to report and comment on this research in rather more depth.

.

So I sent a request to Mischon De Reya’s PR department asking for a copy of the study that had been trailed so extensively. For my trouble I was sent a copy of the press release along with the following – enlightening – response from Sean at Consolidated PR [my italics]: ‘Many thanks for the interest shown with regard to Mishcon de Reya’s story out yesterday. I have attached the press release which contains all the findings from the research conducted as part of the campaign.’ Focus Sean: I didn’t ask about the story, and I’m not interested in the campaign. I asked about the research.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

What odd times we live in. The Guardian reported on Saturday that hedge fund managers are now betting on the outcome of high worth ancillary relief cases by funding the litigation costs of one party in return for a largeish chunk of the prize.

Given that this is the type of arrangement which springs up where traditional sources of funding are unavailable because of the unpredictability of a return on investment, this tells us something about the lack of legal certainty available to litigants in this area of law.

Still, its a problem most of us will never have. For most of us legal certainty means the sure knowledge that our fortune is so small it is scarcely worth the legal fees. I wish my spouse or I were wealthy enough for hedge funds to be interested in taking a punt on one of us should we ever fall out. You’ll excuse me for being such poor company – I’m still getting over the disappointment of having had four numbers in Saturday’s draw only to find that my other half had read out the numbers for Wednesday’s draw. Does that count as grounds for divorce? Can I run it as conduct? Anyone fancy my chances?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »