The Open Justice Principle – the clue is in the title…

A little while ago we wrote about a case called Cape v Dring ... the reason we wrote about it was because it dealt with the principles that apply to applications for sight of documents produced in the course of a court case under the ‘open justice principle’.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Legal advice on online forums and social media (Part I)

There are many concerns expressed about the quality of advice now available to parties in family court cases, as so few have lawyers. This blog post discusses the results of a research project on this topic led by Dr Tatiana Tkacukova, School of English, Birmingham City University.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Open justice: family law developments in 2019

Over the past twelve months – how has the common law been considered and developed in the area of open justice, in family proceedings and in other common law cases which apply to family law?

Full post: dbfamilylaw

President says ‘We can’t cope’ – oh, and that transparency review is Go!

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane (that’s ‘Top Judge’ to you), has sent us his Christmas letter.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Judge’s subservience to Parliament and the government

"There are already many areas of law where judges recognise their subservience to Parliament’s will", explains David Burrows.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Informal Trusts of Land: W(h)ither different approaches for domestic and commercial contexts?

This post considers two recent cases concerning the ownership of land: Tahir v Faizi and Kahrmann v Harrison-Morgan.

Full post: Oxford Law Faculty Property Law Blog

State of the Union: Scotland, England, and the Villiers divorce case

On 9 and 10 December 2019, the Supreme Court heard an appeal between Charles Villiers  and his wife Emma Villiers.

Full post: The Transparency Project

When verdicts and findings collide

Last week Mr Justice Baker (now Lord Justice Baker) published three judgments from care proceedings, naming the parents of a child known as Q. Q had suffered a range of injuries, including rib fractures and head injuries, and those injuries had been inflicted by one or other – or both of his parents.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Judge believes blameless parents and sends baby home

His Honour Judge Dancey has published a judgment in which he explains why he has decided that social services have failed to prove that either parent caused a skull fracture sustained by their baby, with the result that the baby is going home.

Full post: The Transparency Project

‘Do Separating Parents Need the Family Court?’ – the annual Family Justice Council debate

Here are just a few points of interest we took from the speakers on the night (heavily paraphrased) pending the full, verbatim transcript /recording that will follow at the FJC site soon.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Court of Appeal gives guidance on Secure Accommodation Orders

A Local Authority v B’s mother; B’s father; B’s stepfather; and B (through her Cafcass guardian); the Association of Lawyers for Children (intervening) [2019] EWCA Civ 2025.

Full post: The Transparency Project

How does the family court treat domestic abuse?: A snapshot (continued – Part 7)

AB v XY [2019] EWHC 1468 (Fam) (07 June 2019).

Full post: The Transparency Project

Orphans from Syria

Mr Justice Keehan has this week published an extraordinary judgment of a mere 17 staccato paragraphs. It is called Re Orphans From Syria [2019] EWHC 3202 (Fam).

Full post: The Transparency Project

Re B-S for Secure Accommodation BIG BIG BIG

B (Secure Accommodation Order), Re (Rev 1) [2019] EWCA Civ 2025 (21 November 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Family courts appeals and open justice

Moves towards openness in family proceedings.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

The President’s New Clothes

This week has seen reports in the legal press of a speech in which the President of the Family Division set out an idea for a research project about news reports containing accounts of how family courts have handled domestic abuse claims.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Light Relief

Lucy Reed describes her journey going paperless.

Full post: Pink Tape

The transparency of family court appeals: the new Practice Direction 30B

In family proceedings, some appeals go to the Court of Appeal, some (mostly) to a High Court judge in the Family Division of the High Court or the Family Court.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Blood products and Jehovah’s Witnesses: An NHS Trust v C NHS Trust & Ors

In An NHS Trust v C NHS Trust & Ors [2019] EWHC 3033 (Fam), CX, now fourteen, had been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer when he was three.

Full post: Law & Religion UK

Brothers’ and sisters’ rights in care

Many people believe that we do not pay enough attention to the rights of children in care to stay with, or at least stay in touch with, their brothers and sisters.

Full post: The Transparency Project

“Financial advisers – better at financial advice than law – who’da thunk it?”

This week, the Telegraph featured an article with the headline I’m getting divorced. Do I need a financial adviser?

Full post: The Transparency Project

The Public and the ‘Future Court’

A Future Court and Tribunal Service Built for Users was the title of Tuesday’s HMCTS annual public event to inform court users and their representatives about progress of the court modernisation programme, 12 months since the last such update.

Full post: The Transparency Project

‘Are you here because of the significant failure?’

As it happens I wasn’t, and the lawyer who asked me this had assumed wrongly. I was attending court just to see what was on that day, and to use the legal blogging pilot to try to report a typical day in the life of a circuit judge.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Ordinary heartbreak

This post is about a hearing I attended recently as a legal blogger. This hearing was a case management hearing in a care case.

Full post: The Transparency Project

“And all the pieces matter…”

S (A Child: Adequacy of Reasoning), Re [2019] EWCA Civ 1845 (31 October 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Practice directions and President’s guidance

Creating ‘law’ by practice direction and guidance.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

President’s guidance as to reporting on family courts

Sir Andrew McFarlane stated that guidance to courts would need to be issued to address the uncertainty that existed if a journalist or legal blogger entitled to attend court asked for leave to publish information from the hearing.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Guidance to ‘reporters’ on varying reporting restrictions orders

President’s guidance on procedure.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

No case to answer in care proceedings

Re AA and 25 others 2019.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Don’t turn around

C (A Child) (Judicial Conduct) [2019] EWFC B53 (16 October 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Judicial Conduct – what about the context?

The case C (A Child) (Judicial Conduct), an appeal against a decision made in care proceedings. The appeal was allowed because of the judge's shockingly inappropriate conduct.

Full post: Pink Tape

Control in the courtroom

Observers and newbies are often surprised when they first see a domestic abuse fact finding hearing at just how murky, and how messy these allegations and counter allegations are to unpick.

Full post: Pink Tape

A new case on the ‘shaken baby’ problem

TP and TS [2019] EWHC B51 concerns baby twins who had been born prematurely at 31 weeks and who subsequently experienced serious physical trauma that may have been attributable to their parents.

Full post: The Transparency Project

News from the latest Cafcass Open Board Meeting: Thoughts from the new CEO

Cafcass hold two board meetings in public each year to promote transparency, engagement and trust.

Full post: The Transparency Project

The mystery of the missing Minutes (or… minutes turn into hours and into months…)

Being slightly geeky, we like to follow the minutes of meetings of the Family Procedure Rule Committee, particularly since our request to the committee to consider implementing a legal blogging pilot, the progress of which we were able to track through consecutive (if tantalisingly delayed) minutes, up until the pilot launched in October last year.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Is a residential home a person? Or MIND THE GAP

C (A Child) (Schedule 2, Paragraph 19, Children Act 1989) [2019] EWCA Civ 1714 (17 October 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Financial relief: a survey of ten cases over the past 50 years…

The top ten financial relief cases since 1971.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Children’s rights: thirty years on from the Children Act 1989, Part 2

This article asks: to what extent are the views of children taken into account?

Full post: dbfamilylaw

No take-backs? The parents who changed their mind about adoption and the local authority who got it very, very wrong

The case of Foster Carers v A, B and a Welsh Local Authority [2019] EWFC B52 (27 June 2019) is a heart-rending example of the human suffering caused by a Local Authority that really should have known better.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Children’s rights: thirty years on from the Children Act 1989

This article looks at how the law in relation to children’s rights under the Act have moved in the thirty years since it received Royal Assent.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

‘The problems are huge’: teenagers in care living in caravan parks

HHJ Dancey explains at the outset of this case, Dorset Council v A (Residential Placement: Lack of Resources) that he has spoken to A, aged 15, about his intention to ‘tell her story’ and that he is writing the judgment with her and her family reading it in mind.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Relinquishing a relinquishment

Foster carers v A, B & A Welsh Local Authority [2019] EWFC B52 (27 June 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Tafida Raqeeb Judgment Summary: Continuation of Life-Sustaining Treatment in Italy held to be in Child’s Best Interests

This week, Mr Justice MacDonald handed down his judgment in the High Court, holding that continuation of medical treatment was in Tafida Raqeeb’s best interests.

Full post: The Transparency Project

The deprivation of liberty for 16 and 17 year olds

We are very pleased to bring this Guest Post very kindly written by Victoria Butler-Cole QC, barrister at 39 Essex Chambers.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Author not liable for any wince-related injuries

London Borough of Croydon v  KR 2019.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

What responsibility do CAFCASS have towards children who AREN’T the subjects of proceedings?

A County Council v Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) [2019] EWHC 2369 (Fam) (20 September 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Anonymity for pole dancers

If you have to tell a client whether their family court hearing will be dealt with anonymously or not (ie their names to remain confidential), the best thing they can do is toss a coin – certainly if their hearing is before a High Court judge.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Can and should a Local Authority facilitate the use of sex workers for a vulnerable adult?

Lincolnshire County Council v AB [2019] EWCOP 43 (08 May 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Transgender Man cannot be registered as child’s Mother

In the case of TT, R (On the Application Of) v The Registrar General for England and Wales [2019] EWHC 2384 (Fam) (25 September 2019) the court was asked to determine the definition of ‘mother’ under the law in England and Wales.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Committal to prison and children proceedings: Part 2

The second of two articles looking at the facts of the case Re Nasrullah Mursalin, and the background to the law.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Committal to prison and children proceedings: Part 1

The first of two articles looking at the facts of the case Re Nasrullah Mursalin, and the background to the law.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

So much for transparency

The figures indicate that the Transparency Guidance is now a dead letter.

Full post: Stowe Family Law Blog

Can parents agree to a 16 year old being detained?

As a result of a new Supreme Court judgment, local authorities will no longer be able to offer residential care, with parents’ agreement, to 16 and 17 year olds where they are supervised and not free to leave – unless there is a court order.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Nothing else will do.

On 18 July I wrote a post about a judgment on a very sad case with a tentatively positive outcome. This post directly follows on from there, and it’s important to know that since that judgment there had been three further instances of domestic abuse where the police were involved, and an incident of the mother assaulting a police officer and another person for which she received a community sentence.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Scott v Scott and release of court material

David Burrows explains the current state of the common law on release of court material after a family case hearing.

Full post: ICLR Blog

Domestic Abuse Survivors To Stage Mass Protest On Parliament Square

Survivors of domestic abuse will stage a protest next month on London’s Parliament Square to highlight the way domestic violence cases are handled in the family courts.

Full post: Researching Reform

Human Rights Court criticises adoption case from Norway

The case of Strand Lobben and others v. Norway 37282/13 raises issues about the human rights of birth mothers in adoption proceedings.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Private hearing, in secret and in chambers

What is ‘private’: a need for clarity in law.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Lomax v Lomax – must parties consent to Early Neutral Evaluation process?

In an appeal from a decision made by a family judge in an inheritance dispute, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the consent of the parties is not needed for a court to order them to submit their case to an ENE, or “early neutral evaluation”.

Full post: The Transparency Project

‘Private law children reform: a long and winding road, with Professor Hunter’

Professor Hunter (University of Kent) argues for a fresh look at the bigger picture if we are to get domestic abuse in the family courts right.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Open justice: when is secrecy lawful in family proceedings? – Part 3

Can a family court decide whether a court rule is valid?

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Can a violent husband block a divorce?

This week has seen the headline : Mum whose violent husband was jailed can’t get a divorce – because he says no, appear in the Daily Mirror.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Open justice: when is secrecy lawful in family proceedings? – Part 2

Open justice and Family Procedure Rules 2010.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Giving birth and the Court of Protection

Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust v X [2019] EWCOP 35.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Change of residence – do we listen to children?

Looking at the case SC v TC [2019] EWHC 1637.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Open justice: when is secrecy lawful in family proceedings? – Part 1

What substantive law (ie common law and statute law) defines the English and Welsh system of open justice? And can any family courts court rule change open justice principles in relation to family proceedings?

Full post: dbfamilylaw

The danger of crusades

In the last few months, the Daily Express has been running a ‘Crusade’ (their label) with the banner ‘End This Injustice’. Under this banner they have published a number of accounts from mothers who tell of abuse at the hands of the fathers of their children, and a failure by the Family Court to protect them.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Ladds ladds ladds

The Court of Appeal give guidance on how to challenge findings of fact made where the ground to do so is as a result of fresh evidence - Re E (Children :Reopening findings of fact) 2019.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Paternity complexity

AB v CD (No 1) 2019 and AB v CD (no 2) 2019.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Mend law and save tragic kids?

It’s a common mistake for journalists (and others) to refer to the Children’s Act. Pedantic family lawyers bristle at this (it’s the Children Act). But pedantry aside, this error is often a clue that something has been written without much input from a lawyer. And so it seems with the Sunday Mirror’s various campaign pieces published today about the law on protecting children from violent parents, which feature far worse mistakes than punctuation.

Full post: The Transparency Project

An example of why headlines matter

Lucy Reed looks at a case in which a father committed suicide after his contact was restricted.

Full post: The Transparency Project

How to challenge findings of fact about children

The Court of Appeal has issued a judgment which clarifies when and how a parent who has been the subject of findings of fact can challenge those findings. This post summarises that new guidance.

Full post: The Transparency Project

How does the family court treat domestic abuse?: A ‘snapshot’ (continued – part 6)

 Sophie Smith-Holland looks at the case A Local Authority v C [2019] EWHC 1782 (Fam) (12 April 2019).

Full post: The Transparency Project

Can an adoption order be undone? – New case

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post, ‘Can an adoption order be undone?’ The answer was, only in very exceptional circumstances. A new High Court judgment, ZH v HS & others, has not broken any new ground, but gives us a further example of the sort of procedural flaws that are so serious they undermine the granting of the order.

Full post: The Transparency Project

What’s behind the headline: “Babies living with abusive parents under 24-hour CCTV, as Children’s Commissioner calls for review into the ‘Big Brother-style’ centres”?

Last week, the Telegraph ran a piece from their social affairs correspondent Gabriella Swerling under this alarming headline. The piece is detailed and contains some quotes from lawyers and the Children’s Commissioner for England. In this blogpost we ask: what is really behind this headline?

Full post: The Transparency Project

Release of hearings documents in family proceedings: Part 2

Release of hearings documents: general principles.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Is a link a publication?

In the case of Medway Council v Root 2019, a mother was found to be in contempt of Court orders prohibiting her from publishing certain items about the care proceedings and her children, and having previously been given suspended sentences for earlier breaches, was given a nine month custodial sentence.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

The “long arm” of the police – how “confidential “ are family proceedings?

“Not very” seems to be the answer in the Court of Appeal decision in M (Children) [ 2019] EWCA Civ 1364.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

How does the family court treat domestic abuse?: A ‘snapshot’ (continued – part 5)

SD v AFH (Appeal: Coercive and controlling behaviour: Inference or speculation) [2019] EWHC 1513 (Fam) (13 June 2019).

Full post: The Transparency Project

Release of hearings documents and open justice in the Supreme Court

Access by non-parties to court documents - Cape Intermediate v Dring.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Can the Family Court be trusted with the law?…

The law and ‘own initiative’ orders: Family Procedure Rules 2010 r 4.3.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Hounds of justice

J and K (Flawed ABE Interview) [2019] EWFC B36 (14 February 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Supreme Court’s decision in asbestos case: guidance bearing on transparency in family courts

This post explains how a civil case about harm caused by asbestos can have implications for transparency relevant to family courts.

Full post: The Transparency Project

That, frankly, hit me like a dart

Shokrollah-Babaee v Shokrollah-Babae [2019] EWHC 2135 (Fam) (25 July 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

The Princess and the FMP Order

The mainstream media reports that Princess Haya of Dubai has been at the Royal Courts of Justice this week, seeking forced marriage protection orders (FMPOs) in respect of one of her children.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Dingoes ate my decree absolute

Power v Vidal 2019.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Capacity to consent to sexual relations: obscurity illuminated?

This post deals with the recent judgment of the Court of Protection in London Borough of Tower Hamlets v NB (consent to sex) [2019] EWCOP 27 and the consequences of sensational commentary on it.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Pass the bundle…

So, a few months ago there was a flurry of notices about the collection of bundles at the end of court hearings, with stern warnings about who would be reported to the ICO for GDPR breaches if the right person didn't take responsibility for the right bundle at the right time.

Full post: Pink Tape

How does the family court treat domestic abuse?: (A snapshot continued – part 4)

A Child (Threshold: Inflicted Injury and Domestic Abuse) [2019] EWHC 1511 (Fam) (21 May 2019).

Full post: The Transparency Project

Nothing else will do…?

Earlier this week, a judgment was published on Bailii by His Honour Judge Greensmith sitting at the family court in Liverpool. In my view, this judgment is a compelling read and beautifully demonstrates the law in action.

Full post: The Transparency Project

How does the family court treat domestic abuse?: A snapshot (continued)

This blog post considers the case of O and Y (Children: Care Order) [2019] EWFC B22 (24 May 2019).

Full post: The Transparency Project

The President’s Expert Witness Working Group Symposium: in which lawyers (for once) were not the loudest voices in the room

A collective of medical and legal professionals descended on the Royal Courts of Justice on 4th July 2019 to discuss the current shortage of medical experts in the family courts.

Full post: The Transparency Project

A view from the front row – a barrister’s perspective of the family court’s mishandling of children cases involving domestic abuse

This is a guest post from Dr Charlotte Proudman. Charlotte is a family law barrister at Goldsmith Chambers specialising in violence against women and girls.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Children Cases in the Family Court – Interim Proposals for Reform (Private Law)

Following on from our post summarising the key recommendations from Mr Justice Keehan’s Public Law Working Group which can be found here, we now turn our attention to the issue of private law.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Children Cases in the Family Court – Interim Proposals for Reform (Public Law)

Today, the President of the Family Court Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, published interim reports from his Public and Private Law Working Groups.

Full post: The Transparency Project

‘Custody fights blight four in ten break ups’ – A word of caution?

At the beginning of May various news reports claimed that the number of separating couples going to court to resolve disputes about their children was 4 times higher than previously believed.

Full post: The Transparency Project

The Habberfields and the Hab-not-a-fields

Last year saw an abundant crop of “proprietary estoppel” disputes between farming families, with no fewer than 12 such claims being heard by the High Court. Of those claims, only 3 were successful – which points to the factual and legal difficulties that claimants face in invoking this doctrine. Behind each of these cases lies human tragedy: a deeply, and most likely irretrievably, fractured family.

Full post: The Transparency Project

How Dorset feel – to treat me like you do?

Another day, another case about designated authority.   This one answers the question “Does the stop the clock provision apply under a Supervision Order?”

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Expert Witnesses: The Crisis in Family Courts

West Sussex County Council v B [2019] EWFC B25 is a prime example of the importance of independent expert evidence in preventing possible miscarriages of justice, and the impact on families of not being able to secure such evidence in a timely manner.

Full post: The Transparency Project

The family court in an era of austerity: problems and priorities – Sir James Munby

The online divorce project has been a “triumphant success”, according to Sir James Munby, but the family justice system as a whole is “inadequately funded and resourced” and the shortage of judges, the cuts to legal aid and antiquated IT systems were among the “many difficulties we continue to face”.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Who are the Beatles? And can they fix my computer?

The press love a story about out of touch judges – think ‘Who are The Beatles?’. And so with this headline in the Mail Online : ‘Technophobe’ judges delay £1.2bn justice system reforms as plan to use new software in family court hearings is dropped.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Fight for Life: Best interests, sick children and the Battleground

In the recent case of Manchester University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust v OA , the court had to decide the fate of a 13-month-old-girl, known as M, who was born with end stage renal failure.

Full post: The Transparency Project

All at sea

T (A child), Re [2019] EWHC 1572 (Fam) (12 June 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Towards and untowards

London Borough of Wandsworth v Lennard [2019] EWHC 1552 (Fam) (14 June 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Wellbeing and the Family Justice System by Sir Andrew McFarlane

Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, on judicial behaviour, the impact of pressure facing family courts and future plans to try and reduce it.

Full post: Wellbeing at the Bar

Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re out to sue me…

The Transparency Project was founded in part to counter dodgy headlines and over-simplified or inaccurate media reports about all things family law. Every so often, distortion of what a case *really* says or means comes from within the system. This is one such example.

Full post: The Transparency Project

It ain’t that easy…

This is a guest post from Themis (pseudonym), a parent with experience of the family courts.

Full post: The Transparency Project

How do family courts use ‘barring orders’?

One of the tasks of the new review of family courts and domestic abuse announced last month by the MoJ is to examine courts’ use of barring orders.

Full post: The Transparency Project

How does the family court deal with domestic abuse? A snapshot – part 2

A (A Child) [2019] EWFC B16 (12 March 2019) & Re N (Children) [2019] EWCA Civ 903.

Full post: The Transparency Project

How does the family court deal with domestic abuse? A snapshot

A Lancastrian Council v M [2019] EWFC B6 (07 March 2019).

Full post: The Transparency Project

County Lines and Magical Sparkle Powers

A City Council v LS & Ors (Secure Accommodation Inherent Jurisdiction) [2019] EWHC 1384 (Fam) (04 June 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Problem exists between chair and keyboard

Lucy Reed shares her top tips for paperless working.

Full post: Pink Tape

Independent research on domestic abuse and family courts

A quick review of available research.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Withdrawal of life support: minimally conscious patients

A Clinical Commissioning Group v P (by her litigation friend the Official Solicitor) and TD [2019] EWCOP 18.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Judge agrees learning disabled man can make his own choice about marriage and should be told about his finances

In May this year Mr Justice Francis handed down a carefully anonymised judgment in a case concerning PBM, a man in his mid-twenties who had an acquired brain injury as a result of a deliberate injection of insulin by his father when he was 12 months old.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the ordinary residence water….

Re S (A child) 2017.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Tag -you’re it (or not)

J-S (Children) [2019] EWCA Civ 894 (24 May 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

NB on Re NB

The Court of protection case Re NB.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Courts: fit for the future – but not for the present?

More than a year has passed since the Transparency Project submitted its response (among many others) to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on the future strategy of court and tribunal estate reform. Now at last the MOJ has issued its own response.

Full post: The Transparency Project

GDP-ARgggghhhh! (The Legal Aid Agency’s guide to the GDPR)

A blog post in which the twin joys of legal aid and GDPR are combined in one glorious cluster of hideousness.

Full post: Pink Tape

ADMs apple

The Court of Appeal in Re TS (Children).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Alienating behaviours and appealing about an expert report

This post is about a High Court case called Re MFS (Appeal: Transfer of Primary Care) [2019] EWHC 768 (Fam), a judgment delivered in March by Mr Justice Williams.

Full post: The Transparency Project

“…such obviously fallacious legal arguments”

H-L (Children: Summary Dismissal of Care Proceedings).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

When children are abducted by a parent – a scourge, an unspeakable cruelty and a matter of public interest

Since yesterday the news has been full of reports about a Ukrainian ‘Billionaire, Sergiy Tigipko, investigated over abduction of [his] UK grandchildren’.

Full post: The Transparency Project

“Love her how I love her”

In a dreadfully sad case, the mum wrote in a statement to the court her reasons for not actively opposing the care and placement order in respect of her little girl.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Finding fault in the reporting of no fault divorce

Jo Edwards dissects various headlines that were screamed from the front pages of newspapers across the country last week, after the government announced plans to reform divorce law in England and Wales.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Giving hope to all concierges who date cosmetics heiresses*

Ipekçi v McConnell is a case between  – yes, you’ve guessed it – a hotel concierge, Anil Ipekçi, and  Morgan McConnell, the great-granddaughter of the founder of Avon.

Full post: The Transparency Project

What does ‘irretrievable breakdown’ mean as a ground for divorce?

Irretrievable breakdown of marriage: the old and the new.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Divorce reform: Lord Chancellor’s response – first thoughts

Response to consultation.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Stocker v Stocker: Facebook Libel and Dictionary Deficiencies

This Supreme Court judgment is on a defamation case, not family law, but it refers to wider issues about victims of domestic abuse who feel the law can sometimes be used to threaten them if they speak out.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Anonymity: private and public proceedings

Open justice principle.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

A post script about RIPA

A short while ago I wrote a post about social workers carrying out surveillance of families that they work with, which has attracted a certain amount of attention. I've had an email from a data protection officer at a local authority expressing concern that the article isn't correct, so I thought I'd better address it.

Full post: Pink Tape

Lego instructions and the views of a child: Part 2

Lego, the law and child representation: a pre-preliminary point.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Lego instructions and the views of a child: Part 1

CS v SBH: a solicitor’s role.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Videos of children being removed

Every so often a video is circulated on Facebook or Twitter that shows the distressing removal of a child from its parents by police or social workers. Yesterday was one such day.

Full post: Pink Tape

CS v SBH: a child’s competence to appoint her own lawyer

This case concerned the question whether, on an appeal, a child was entitled to choose and be represented by a solicitor of her own choice, instead of the solicitor already instructed by the court-appointed guardian.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Transparency and judicial bias – a review in 2019

Common law ‘transparency’.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

‘Guidance’ as law

David Burrows considers the status of judicially-issued practice guidance in the hierarchy of judge-made and statutory law, and questions its use as a shortcut for more formally generated procedural rules.

Full post: ICLR Blog

Social work spies? (Yes, you over there I’m talking to you…)

Social workers ‘spying’ on families through Facebook.

Full post: Pink Tape

“Unnourished by sense.”

M v P [2019] EWFC 14 (22 March 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Not a vacuum but a low pressure vessel

CS v SBH & Ors [2019] EWHC 634 (Fam) (18 March 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Should a Local Authority serve notice of proceedings on a father suspected of abusing the mother?

P (Notice of care proceedings to father without parental responsibility) [2019] EWFC 13 (11 March 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Contempt of court: ‘publication’ and children proceedings

The tentacles of court contempt.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

I call humbug

The poor practice, serious mistakes and sometimes unlawful actions of people working in the family law system are almost always hidden.

Full post: The Transparency Project

The President’s guidance on anonymisation in published judgments

On 7 December 2018, Sir Andrew McFarlane, the President of the Family Division, issued some practice guidance to judges entitled Practice Guidance: anonymisation and avoidance of the identification of children and the treatment of explicit descriptions of the sexual abuse of children in judgments intended for the public arena.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Judgment critical of delay from expert

X and Y (Delay : Professional Conduct of Expert) [2019] EWFC B9 (11 March 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Child rights: politics or law

Judicial review and the ‘political arena’.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Capacity to use the internet

Two recent judgments in the Court of Protection sparked the usual inaccurate headlines suggesting that the court had ridden roughshod over the rights of adults with learning difficulties to access the internet, and more specifically social media.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Court of Appeal decision about orders for post-adoption contact

Re B (A Child) (Post-adoption contact) [2019] EWCA Civ 29 is the first time (since a change in the law in 2014) that the Court of Appeal has considered when an order should be made that an adopted child will have continuing contact with their birth family after he or she is adopted.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Reporting restrictions and the James Bulger murder

Venables & Anor v News Group Papers Ltd & Ors [2019] EWHC 494 (Fam) (4 March 2019).

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Can you make an Interim Care Order that lasts beyond the child’s 17th birthday?

Re Q (A Child: Interim Care Order) 2019.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Best evidence of complainants and children

In Y and E (Children) (Sexual Abuse Allegations) [2019] EWCA Civ 206 (21 February 2019) Baker LJ drew attention to the importance of ABE evidence gathering.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Lay representation in civil proceedings

McKenzie friends in 2019: a debate….

Full post: dbfamilylaw

NOT reforming the courts’ approach to McKenzie Friends: a judicial abdication of responsibility

In 2016, the Lord Chief Justice and the JEB issued a consultation entitled “Reforming the courts’ approach to McKenzie Friends”. Three years later, they have responded with a series of recommendations that basically involve blaming the government for the problem and suggesting that the government, not the judiciary, should sort it out.

Full post: The Transparency Project

In the pool or not in the pool?

C (Interim threshold not crossed) [2019] EWFC B5 (15 February 2019).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Mental capacity for handling the internet: Court of Protection

A (Capacity: Social Media and Internet Use: Best Interests)  [2019] EWCOP 2.

Full post: UK Human Rights Blog

Shamima’s baby – the family law aspect

We’ve started trying to write something about Shamima Begum and her baby several times this week, but every time we agree what we are going to write, something changes. It feels a bit like shifting sands, and the facts are very unclear. So we aren’t going to say very much. Instead, we thought it would be helpful to set out a very broad framework for what might happen if Shamima and / or her baby Jerah ever make it back to England.

Full post: The Transparency Project

BC v BG – Challenging arbitration awards in divorce cases

If one of the parties isn’t happy about the outcome of arbitration, the matter could still end up in court. The recent case of BC v BG considers the different ways this can happen, and confirms what should be the preferred approach.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Tickle’s Triumph – an independent journalist succeeds in her appeal to secure the right to report on a family case – and prompts new guidance

Today, independent journalist and Transparency Project member Louise Tickle took her appeal against a reporting restriction order made by a family judge, to the Court of Appeal. She won.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Assessing family members where parent doesn’t put them forward or objects

RE H (Care and Adoption : Assessment of wider family) 2019.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Family law and EU withdrawal

EU law and family breakdown: where are we today?

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Bullish but not bullying? UNDER PRESSURE

I do like a case name that tells you something about the nature of the case, so G (Children: Fair Hearing), Re [2019] EWCA Civ 126 (07 February 2019) told me it was probably going to be worth a read.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Divorce and the Muslim community

The Lord Chancellor will shortly – March 2019 – be reporting on his review of the replies to his divorce reform consultation: Reducing family conflict – Reform of the legal requirements for divorce.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Family courts: costs claims for the litigant in person

How much and when can litigant in person claim costs in family proceedings.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Research by ALC on “Fire-eating Courts” (sorry, “Settlement Conferences”)

The Association of Lawyers for Children research on the settlement conference pilot.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Disputing family arbitration awards

In BC v BG [2019] EWFC 7 the court was concerned with the general (and novel) question as to the effect that should be given to an arbitration award made when parties agree to arbitrate disputes that arise in proceedings for financial remedies following a divorce.

Full post: Family Law Blog

No more ‘business as usual’

We have our first View from the President, from our new President.

Full post: suesspiciousminds

A view from the coalface

I've been getting blank faces whenever I've asked colleagues what they think of the latest 'President's View' (the first from this reincarnation of the President, Lord Justice Macfarlane).

Full post: Pink Tape

President of the Family Division: what now?

First ‘view’ of Sir Andrew McFarlane P.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

A draft domestic abuse bill

Domestic abuse and domestic violence in 2019.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Government publishes draft Domestic Abuse Bill

The government has today published its response to its ‘Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse’ Consultation, which it launched in March 2018, together with a draft Domestic Abuse Bill.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Human Rights Act 1998 and family law in 2019

Recent press comment has gone back to concerns about the Tories getting rid of Human Rights Act 1998. What does this mean, in the context (mostly) of family law?

Full post: dbfamilylaw

Video hearings and family courts

A number of strands of family law and modern court practice coalesce in the civil proceedings default judgment video-link set aside scheme.

Full post: dbfamilylaw

An interesting judgment about reporting restrictions

This post is about a case called : A and B (Children) [2018] EWHC 3491 (Fam) (20 December 2018).

Full post: The Transparency Project

Hi Sky, Corrected your misleading headline, love TP xxx

Thanks to Emily Ward for alerting us to this gem of a headline from Sky News : Man loses court fight over wife’s ‘flirtatious’ kisses on text messages.

Full post: The Transparency Project

International Online Courts Forum: what we learned

We joined more than 300 government, legal and IT professionals from around the world of delegates at last month’s first International Online Courts Forum.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Another runaway mum in the news – what’s the story?

Shortly before Christmas reports began to emerge of a young mother who had disappeared with her little boy, and of the High Court Judge who gave permission for the family to be publicly named and photos shown in order to help locate them.

Full post: The Transparency Project

What’s in a judgment anyway?

In November a journalist I know and respect took to social media to air her concerns about the probity of family court process as regards transcripts of hearings.

Full post: Pink Tape

Separating twins

BT & GT (Children : twins – adoption) [2018] EWFC 76 (29 November 2018).

Full post: suesspiciousminds

Was the risk really bad enough to justify the remedy?

This question was asked by Lord Justice Peter Jackson in a judgment reported last month,  Re F (A Child: Placement Order: Proportionality) [2018] EWCA Civ 2761.

Full post: The Transparency Project

Declaration of Parentage used in Child’s Abduction Proceedings

An unusual judgment has recently been made by Mr Justice Williams in G (Declaration of Parentage – Removal of Person Identified as Mother from Birth Certificate) (No2) [2018] EWHC 3361 (Fam).

Full post: iFLG