Children In Law
42.0K views | +0 today
Follow
 
Scoop.it!

Kent Child Care Conference 12th October

Kent Child Care Conference 12th October | Children In Law | Scoop.it
  A quick plug for Kent’s Child Care Conference – they’ve been running one of the best Community Care Conferences around for a number of years now, and they are doing one on Children Act this year.  It is open to lawyers, social workers and...
No comment yet.
Children In Law
legal issues about children in the uk
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scoop.it!

High Court rejects application by mother to prevent local authority from imposing vaccinations on child in foster care

High Court rejects application by mother to prevent local authority from imposing vaccinations on child in foster care | Children In Law | Scoop.it
A High Court judge has rejected a mother's application, supported by the father, to prevent a local authority from imposing a programme of vaccinations on a child in foster care without their consent.
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Judge rules council breached ECHR rights of orthodox Jewish 15-year-old boy - but not his brother - over proposal for respite placement accommodation

Judge rules council breached ECHR rights of orthodox Jewish 15-year-old boy - but not his brother - over proposal for respite placement accommodation | Children In Law | Scoop.it
A High Court judge has handed down a ruling in a disagreement over whether two boys should be given respite placement accommodation in a residential home in the Greater Manchester area or in an exclusively orthodox Jewish residential home in London.
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

The President of the Family Division endorses Public Law Working Group report

The President of the Family Division endorses Public Law Working Group report | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Our articles are written by experts in their field and include barristers, solicitors, judges, mediators, academics and professionals from a range of related disciplines. Family Law provides a platform for debate for all the important topics, from divorce and care proceedings to transparency and access to justice. If you would like to contribute please email editor@familylaw.co.uk. Spotlight Children and Same Sex Families Children and Same Sex Families: A Legal Handbook More info View All A day in the life Of... Read on The President of the Family Division endorses Public Law Working Group report Date:3 MAR 2021 The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary has published a message from the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, in which the President endorses the publication of the President’s Public Law Working Group report.  Article continues below... Family Law "the principal (monthly) periodical dealing with... £389 View product Family Court Practice, The Order the 2021 edition due out in May £629.99 View product Jackson's Matrimonial Finance Tenth Edition Jackson's Matrimonial Finance is an authoritative... £289.99 View product The report sets out the recommendations from the Public Law Working Group on how to improve the Family Court’s ability to address the needs of children and families at the centre of public law cases, following the steep rise in public law cases prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report is even more timely in light of the coronavirus pandemic placing additional pressures on the Child Protection and Family Justice systems, demonstrating the need for reform. Categories: News Related Articles 15 SEP 2020 Authors: Sarah Williams 28 JAN 2021 26 FEB 2021
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Care review launches with focus on ensuring love, stability and safety for children in families and in care

Care review launches with focus on ensuring love, stability and safety for children in families and in care | Children In Law | Scoop.it
The care review will focus on ensuring love, stability and safety for children, whether in their families or in care, chair Josh MacAlister has said as it started work yesterday.
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Fabricated illness in children ‘much more common’ than previously thought | Evening Standard

Fabricated illness in children ‘much more common’ than previously thought | Evening Standard | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Fabricated illness in children is "more common" than people believe, experts have said.
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Bid to banish 'oppressive' language in social work

Bid to banish 'oppressive' language in social work | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Published by Professional Social Work magazine, 3 March, 2021 A campaign to interrogate the language of social work has been launched by activists who claim it's too often “oppressive, alienating and damaging”. The drive by the Social Work Action Group (SWAG) aims to stimulatle debate and look at the impact language used by professionals has on people coming into contact with services through sharing testimonials on social media. Jason Barnes, founder of SWAG - a network of social workers, people with lived experience, academics and students - said: “We believe language is so fundamental to building those trusting relationships for the people we work with and there are changes necessary within that. “I know myself from being in social work for eight years so much jargon can run off my tongue and it is really important we take stock of what we are saying, how we are carrying out our work and the impact that can have on families and others.” Chris Wild, a campaigner for young people in care, said his own experiences in the care system highlighted the need for change. “I always felt worthless when I was in a professional environment and I was referred to as a ‘looked after child’. It’s archaic. The care sector hasn’t changed but the world around it has and we have got to modernise the way we use our language. “There’s that division automatically between authorities and young people. We have got to try and close that gap somehow and unite as a collaborative and give young people the respect they deserve and we’ll get it back. “Language is the way forward - to change the care sector for the future we’ve got to change the language and that will help everything else around it.” SWAG was created in 2016 with a mission to bring change in social work culture, education and practice and reform services through “co-produced actions and campaigns”. In a statement launching the Language in Social Work campaign on 1 March, it said: “The ways in which social workers speak to and engage with parents and families can be supportive and beneficial but too often it is experienced as oppressive, alienating and damaging. “Social work systems can perpetuate hurt and injustice through language which is judgemental, heteronormative and rigid.” SWAG's poverty representative Richard Smith stressed language could be as oppressive as poverty in the way it is experienced by individuals. “Our collective aim is to bridge the gap between social workers and those who have experience of social work intervention," he said. “Part of the reason this exists in the first place is that we don’t talk enough about the most common experience held by people that have a social worker - that is the experience of poverty. “Challenging structural injustices should be a core part of our role. We need to make sure we are doing so in a way that is with and not for. Our language in social work campaign is within that spirit of unity. There are types of language that subjugate and types of language that liberate.” A series of videos from parents, people with lived experience, social workers, academics and students will be posted on social media as part of the campaign. #fortherecord @swactionuk
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Children’s welfare must be at the heart of family legal cases | Law | The Times

Children’s welfare must be at the heart of family legal cases | Law | The Times | Children In Law | Scoop.it
One in 100 children in the UK have an autism disorder, yet the approach of the law in dealing with them when their parents separate is mostly inflexible.Children’s welfare should be at the heart of...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

A (A Child) (1980 Hague Convention: Set Aside) [2021] EWCA Civ 194

A (A Child) (1980 Hague Convention: Set Aside) [2021] EWCA Civ 194 | Children In Law | Scoop.it
The father appealed against a decision to set aside a return order and to dismiss his application for summary return. The father was an Italian national, the mother a British national, and shortly after their son was born in England they moved to Italy. In 2019, when the child was 10, the mother brought him to England and they did not return. The judge had found that the evidence of the child's wishes and feelings amounted to "a fundamental change of circumstances" and "a fundamental change to the basis on which the previous order was made". In Hayden J's view, although the judge had clearly identified a significant and sustained degree of pressure placed on the child by his mother, he did not seem to have considered how this would have compromised the authenticity of the child's expressed views. The test as to whether there had been a 'fundamental change of circumstances' had to be set high. The mother's application was a clear example of an attempt to reargue a case which had already been comprehensively determined. Asplin and Moylan LJJ agreed. The appeal would be allowed and an order made for the child's return to Italy. The child would not be added as a party to proceedings; to do so would only serve to heighten the conflict that he had struggled to avoid. Judgment, published: 04/03/2021 Topics Share Twitter Facebook LinkedIn
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Live Event: An Introduction to Dictionary of Private Children Law, hosted by the authors. | Class Legal

Live Event: An Introduction to Dictionary of Private Children Law, hosted by the authors. | Class Legal | Children In Law | Scoop.it
HomeNewsLive Event: An Introduction to Dictionary of Private Children Law, hosted by the authors. Live Event: An Introduction to Dictionary of Private Children Law, hosted by the authors. Join us on Tuesday 16th March for a special online event to mark the release of our brand-new title, Dictionary of Private Children Law. Described by Lord Justice Baker in his foreword as an “invaluable addition to the family law library”, this easy-reference practitioner guide is a must for all those practising in the field of private children and serves as a useful companion to the popular Dictionary of Financial Remedies. The event, hosted by the authors (HHJ Edward Hess, Zoe Saunders, Piers Pressdee QC and Dr Rob George) will offer an introduction to the book and how to use it, provide a focus on Arbitration and Jurisdiction (two of the book’s 95 topic areas) and conclude with a panel discussion session. Date & Time Tuesday 16th March, 16.30-17.30 This event is free, but you will need to register your name and email address to attend. If you have a question for the panel, then please submit it to hannah@classlegal.com by Monday 15th March. REGISTER This event will be broadcast on Zoom, please make sure you have this installed and updated on your chosen device. About Dictionary of Private Children Law The Dictionary of Private Children Law is a unique reference guide to the key concepts, cases and practice of private children law. Its A4 format and targeted concise content makes it a unique model of accessibility and portability. Presented in an easy to use A-Z format, with cross-references where required, each entry acts like a practice note on the topic setting out the essential law, key cases and practice points. READ MORE Go Back
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

'Short-termist' government funding for children's services 'destabilising' councils' ability to sustain provision

'Short-termist' government funding for children's services 'destabilising' councils' ability to sustain provision | Children In Law | Scoop.it
“Short-termist” government funding for children’s services is “destabilising” councils’ ability to plan and sustain services in the medium to long-term.That was the warning from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services in its seventh Safeguarding Pressures report, the ADCS’s series of ...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Family Law Week: ADCS report highlights safeguarding pressures before and during pandemic

Home > News ADCS report highlights safeguarding pressures before and during pandemic The Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) has published the full report of its latest iteration of Safeguarding Pressures research. For over a decade ADCS has collected both qualitative and quantitative data from local authorities to evidence and better understand changes in demand for, and provision of, children's social care and associated services. This report outlines pressures faced by local authorities during 2019/20 while also including a focus on activity in the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic. The report draws together survey responses from 129 of all local authorities in England, covering 89 per cent of England's children and young people population. These, together with existing data, provide an insight into the safeguarding related pressures facing children's services across the country. As of 31 March 2020: There were an estimated 2.5 million initial contacts received by local authorities in 2019/20, an increase of 5 per cent in the last two years. There were 642,980 referrals to children's social care in 2019/20, an increase of 19 per cent since 2008. The number of children subjects of child protection plans has increased by 76 per cent since 2008. Adults experiencing domestic abuse, mental health difficulties or substance misuse, are the most common reasons why children come to the attention of early help and/or children's social care services. The number of Section 47 Enquiries continues to rise, up 162 per cent since 2008. £824 million is required just for children's services to 'stay still'. Nearly half of the respondents to the survey reported a reduction in funding ranging between 15 per cent and 30 per cent. Funding for the Troubled Families Programme continues to prop up the delivery of early help services in children's services. The report also captured some of the impact of the pandemic on children's services. In the six months up to 30 September 2020: It is estimated that 81,900 children were in care, an increase of 34 per cent in 12 years and up 6 per cent since 2018/19. There were an estimated 284,400 referrals to children's social care. There was a 4 per cent increase in children who were subjects of child protection plans at 30 September 2020 compared to the same period last year. For the Safeguarding Pressures Phase 7 report, click here. For the executive summary, click here. 26/2/21
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

UK: Home Office £1000 fee for children to register as British citizens is unlawful | Amnesty International UK

UK: Home Office £1000 fee for children to register as British citizens is unlawful | Amnesty International UK | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Court rules that Home Office failed to assess and consider the impact of this fee on children and their rights Lawyers and campaigners again urge Government to bring practice of ‘blocking’ children’s citizenship rights to an immediate end...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

In pursuit of social justice – is a hearing held in public enough to h – Bath Publishing Limited

In pursuit of social justice – is a hearing held in public enough to h – Bath Publishing Limited | Children In Law | Scoop.it
A panel of leading journalists, lawyers and campaigners discuss whether whether justice done in public is enough on its own to keep the state in check.  Watch the recording below or add to the cart and check out (you will not be charged) to download and watch offline.
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Final report from Public Law Working Group set up by Family President makes 47 core recommendations

Final report from Public Law Working Group set up by Family President makes 47 core recommendations | Children In Law | Scoop.it
The Public Law Working Group (PLWG) set up by the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has this week published its final report, which contains some 47 core recommendations.
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Parental Alienation: What Can an Alienated Parent Do? | Psychology Today UK

Parental Alienation: What Can an Alienated Parent Do? | Psychology Today UK | Children In Law | Scoop.it
One challenge with parental alienation is finding professionals informed enough to provide effective help, especially with regard to dealing with the legal system.
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Deaf parents in care proceedings: Good practice in and out of court | The Transparency Project

Deaf parents in care proceedings: Good practice in and out of court | The Transparency Project | Children In Law | Scoop.it
This is a post by regular contributor, Abigail Bond. Abigail is a barrister at St John’s Chambers, Bristol who specialises in Children Law (mainly care proceedings), and Court of Protection health and welfare matters. She tweets as @AbigailBond1.  Re A & B (Children) (Deaf Parent – Assessment and Practice) [2021] EWFC 10 This case is about two very young children, aged 2 and 1. Neither had ever lived with their parents and both had been placed with foster-carers since birth. The question for the judge who heard the final hearing over 17 days was whether they should be placed in long-term foster-care or placed for adoption. The local authority sought care and placement orders on the basis that it would try to find an adoptive family who would promote direct contact between the children and the mother. The mother accepted that she could not look after the children at the moment but hoped to be able to do so in the future. The father, who had not been to contact sessions for some time and attended only the first day of the final hearing, neither supported nor actively opposed the local authority’s proposals. The judge made care and placement orders at the end of the hearing. She found that the children would be at risk of harm if they were returned to the mother’s care, in part because the mother was vulnerable to forming abusive relationships, as she had done with the father of A and B and the father of her older children. This was compounded by the fact that the mother was evasive about the extent of the father’s violence and its effect on the children, and dismissed the need to engage with the Freedom Programme or similar support. The judge also found that the mother had many gaps in her parenting knowledge, had poor ‘theory of mind’ (by which she meant the ability to empathise and to understand the children’s behaviour as they developed) and failed to recognise that there was anything problematic in her parenting style or that she could benefit from teaching or support. Set against that background, the holistic analysis of the benefits and detriments of long-term fostering and adoption for these children led the judge to conclude that the care plan for adoption was the only realistic option.  This is the sort of issue which is decided in family courts up and down the country on a regular basis. What makes this case stand out, however, is the fact that the mother was profoundly deaf and, as the judge said, there is ‘an unusually limited number of reported cases dealing with deaf parents in public law proceedings.’  The most well-known of these cases is Re C (A Child) [2014] EWCA Civ 128 in which the Court of Appeal emphasised the need for the early instruction of an expert to assist professionals with understanding how best to facilitate communication with the deaf person. That judgment also sets out how the local authority’s failure to follow that advice led to the father being at a disadvantage. The Deputy High Court Judge in Re A & B sets out ‘some lessons that may be learned in relation to the social work practice and procedure with the mother as a deaf person’, which she anticipates might be of wider interest in other similar cases. Those 12 lessons are summarised at para. 142. The most significant are covered below. The legal context underpinning the lessons to be learned comes from the Equality Act 2010: The judge was satisfied that the mother should be treated as a person with a disability due to her deafness. The mother was also to be treated as disabled for the purpose of the Equality Act 2010, section 6 of which provides that a person (P) has a disability if P has ‘a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’ Section 20 of the Equality Act 2010 requires public authorities to take reasonable steps and to make reasonable adjustments to a provision, criterion or practice to avoid placing a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage. This can include ensuring that necessary information is provided to the disabled person in an accessible format. The duty applies not only to the way the local authority must approach social work practice with a deaf parent but also requires the court to take reasonable steps to ensure that such a parent can participate effectively and fairly in the proceedings.  As far as the proceedings themselves are concerned, the duty on the court is underlined  by guidance in the Equal Treatment Bench Book highlighting the practical ways in which reasonable adjustments should be made. This is a reference book for the Judiciary of England and Wales which aims to increase judicial awareness and understanding of the different circumstances of those who come before courts and tribunals, so as to enable effective communication and participation. In this case, the mother was assisted by lip-speakers (a lip-speaker is a hearing person who has been professionally trained to be easy to lip-read) and an intermediary. The lip-speakers provided by the court were used to tell the mother what was being said in court and what was being asked of her in her oral evidence. The mother was also assisted by a third lip-speaker outside of court. A registered intermediary, who was himself profoundly deaf and whose first language was BSL, was used throughout the hearing. He had provided a report explaining that the mother used some signs to support her communication and recommending the use of special measures. His role was to ensure that the mother understood what was happening so that she could participate effectively in the hearing. Significant breaks were provided throughout the court day to avoid cognitive overload and fatigue throughout this process, which was exacerbated by the fact that the hearing took place entirely remotely. The court was also referred to the Advocate’s Gateway Toolkit 11: Planning to question someone who is deaf. It is consistent with the court’s duty to ensure accessibility of information that the judge prepared a simplified version of the judgment, which was read aloud to the mother at the conclusion of the hearing with the help of the lip-speakers and the intermediary.  The lessons  Professionals working with a deaf parent need to be ‘deaf-aware’. This includes understanding why deaf people cannot always communicate effectively by lip-reading or reading written English, not assuming that nodding means that the deaf person has understood what has been said, and being aware that there may be knowledge gaps due to missed communication over the years. Dr Austen (the clinical psychologist with expertise in working with deaf parents, instructed on behalf of the mother) confirmed that basic deaf awareness, adequate for the role of a care or support worker, could be taught in a day. The local authority had fallen into error at the outset in that the pre-birth assessment was undertaken by a social worker who did not have any expertise in working with deaf parents, who assumed that the fact that the mother could lip-read meant that she could understand everything, and who side-lined the mother’s deafness by failing to even attempt to analyse the effect of it on her parenting. Moreover, the need for deaf awareness training was not prioritised even after Dr Austen had flagged it up: the contact supervisor had never before worked with a deaf parent and had neither received nor been offered any deaf awareness training; neither had the foster-carer, who undertook the handover to the mother at the start of every contact session by giving her an oral update as to how the children had been. Furthermore, the social worker allocated from February 2019 was not provided with the training until November of that year. In every case involving a deaf parent, a cognitive and capacity assessment should be undertaken at the outset of the proceedings by a psychologist with specialist experience in the assessment of deaf adults. This proved to be pivotal in this case. In proceedings concerning some of her older children the mother had been represented by the Official Solicitor following a psychological assessment which had concluded that she lacked the capacity to conduct proceedings. An addendum was obtained for these proceedings from the same psychologist, who found once again that the mother was learning disabled with extremely low cognitive ability and that she lacked litigation capacity. Her legal representatives then sought a specialist assessment by Dr Austen. Dr Austen’s conclusions were markedly different from those of the previous psychologist: in her opinion the mother was capable of conducting the proceedings, did not have extremely low intellectual ability or a learning disability, did not have a severe memory impairment, did not lack a language system, and did not have extremely poor ability to understand spoken language. Dr Austen confirmed that the difference in time between the two reports (about a month) was not explained by the mother having made huge improvements since the original assessment, concluding that the earlier assessment was inaccurate. The Order inviting the Official Solicitor to act on the mother’s behalf was duly discharged. A specialist cognitive assessment is essential in order to understand the way that the parent communicates so that reasonable adjustments can be made by both social workers and the court. Dr Austen explained that the mother was bilaterally deaf but used spoken language to communicate, which she supplemented by lip-reading, aided residual hearing, drawing, writing, role play and gesture. Her lipreading was adequate (although generally lipreading has only has a success rate of about 50%); she had gaps in her knowledge as a result of her deafness and her historic and current social situation; her speech was difficult to understand; she had some mild language delay; and her reading was poor but not significantly below the average of 9 years for deaf adults of ‘normal’ intelligence. She recommended as a consequence that the mother‘s language skills would enable her to give evidence in court with the support of an intermediary, that all significant appointments with the mother should be attended by an intermediary and that whilst an intermediary with lip-speaking skills was preferable, a lip-speaker with deaf experience was better than an intermediary without any deaf experience. A lip-speaker would also be required in court. Even after receiving advice as to how best to facilitate communication with the mother, professionals did not always ensure that she was supported by a lip-speaker. It was clear, however, that a lip-speaker was provided at most LAC Review meetings and at an important meeting with the social worker in November 2019 to discuss the outcome of an assessment by Dr Cornes. The judgment also highlights other elements of poor communication practice: the social worker failing to meet with the parents to discuss the outcome of the local authority Adotion Decision Maker’s decision; failing to meet with them before preparing the final care plans; trying to use the father to communicate with the mother when he required an advocate himself.  A specialist parenting assessment by an expert in deafness is required. In this case it was undertaken by Dr Cornes, a consultant counselling psychologist who was also instructed in Re C (A Child) [2014] EWCA Civ 128 where he was described as having had ‘a lifetime of experience in matters of communication between deaf people’. Reaching similar conclusions to Dr Austen about the way that the mother communicates, he recommended in his report in February 2019 that in order to provide support to help the mother improve her parenting skills, it was important for information to be given to her in an accessible format: interpreted into simple English using a lip-speaker; written in simple English; and provided by workers who have undergone deaf awareness training. He found, however, that the mother had considerable gaps in her parenting knowledge and critical difficulties with Theory of Mind which would interfere in the attachment relationship as the children developed. These could not be remedied within the children’s timescales. She had only a very basic understanding of her children’s developmental, emotional and social needs and a poor understanding of children’s behaviour (she considered defiance as an ‘illness’ to be treated with calpol). Moreover, an analysis of observed contact showed a lack of consistent interaction and ability to meet her children’s needs.  Paragraph 10 of the Social Work Evidence Template (SWET) must be addressed in full rather than simply being treated as a box to be ticked on a prescribed form. This requires the social worker to answer the following question: Have the contents of this statement been communicated to mother, father, significant others and the child in a way which can be clearly understood? If not, what has been tried? As the European Court of Human Rights reminds us in Venema v The Netherlands, it is essential in all care cases that a parent is ‘placed in a position where he or she may obtain access to information which is relied on by the authorities in taking measures of protective care or in taking decisions relevant to the care and custody of a child. Otherwise, the parent will be unable to participate effectively in the decision-making process or put forward in a fair or adequate manner those matters militating in favour of his or her ability to provide the child with proper care and protection.’ Where the parent is disabled, the obligation on the local authority to ensure the parent’s Article 6 rights to a fair trial (by keeping them informed, in a way they understand, about the progress of the case, the expectations upon them, and what they can do to address the concerns) requires proactive steps to be taken. The social worker’s attempt to address Para.10 in this case was considered to be ‘limited.’  Re A & B provides a helpful insight into how a local authority failed, from the pre-proceedings stage, to understand the mother’s needs as a deaf parent. Despite that, the court considered the deficiencies in the local authority’s assessment of the mother to be ameliorated by the thorough specialist parenting assessment undertaken by Dr Cornes.  For another relatively recent but more unusual care case involving a deaf parent, see A Local Authority v X & others [2020] EWFC 36 , where the mother had neither litigation capacity nor the capacity to give evidence in court but was assisted to participate as fully as possible in the proceedings by a bespoke DVD ‘interview’ process devised and undertaken by Dr Austen.  We have a small favour to ask!  The Transparency Project is a registered charity in England & Wales run largely by volunteers who also have full-time jobs. We’re working hard to secure extra funding so that we can keep making family justice clearer for all who use the court and work within it.  We’d be really grateful if you were able to help us by making a small one-off (or regular!) donation through our Just Giving page.  Thanks for reading!
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Weekly Notes: legal news from ICLR, 1 March 2021 | by The ICLR | Mar, 2021

Weekly Notes: legal news from ICLR, 1 March 2021 | by The ICLR | Mar, 2021 | Children In Law | Scoop.it
The Coronavirus Act 2020 is up for its second six-monthly review and renewal vote in the House of Commons in the coming weeks.Some of the powers it has conferred, the way they have been enforced…...
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

M (A Child): Live streaming from the Court of Appeal on Thursday 4th March – Should a journalist be able to see the court documents behind a flawed decision that a child needed adoption? | The Tran...

M (A Child): Live streaming from the Court of Appeal on Thursday 4th March – Should a journalist be able to see the court documents behind a flawed decision that a child needed adoption? | The Tran... | Children In Law | Scoop.it
This is a short blog to introduce the people and issues, and explain the lead up, ahead of the live-streamed appeal in M (A Child) tomorrow. It aims to give non lawyers a bit of orientation and some links when tuning in to the court of appeal proceedings.  The listing details are here. The link to watch via live-stream goes live here tomorrow, Thursday Fourth of March 2021. The appeal hearing starts at 10.30am and is expected to last about 5 hours over the one day.  The Court of Appeal have provided some useful background information for the public at the live streaming page: In an ideal (transparency) world they’d also routinely publish the anonymised legal arguments (skeletons) that the Judges have and the parties will be referring to. It’s hard even for lawyers to follow the complex legal arguments without these, never mind journalists or members of the public.  In an ideal world too the Court of Appeal will give a bit of an introduction and explanation of how it all works at the beginning for the non-legal public tomorrow. But live streaming is itself a new (and welcome) development for family cases in the Court of Appeal.  And the President of the Family Division is in the middle of a review of the whole tricky business of transparency and the family courts right now: Who is Who? The three Justices hearing the appeal are the Master of the Rolls, Lady Justice Macur and Lady Justice King. Lady Justice King has already sat as a court of appeal judge twice in relation to this case. The ‘Master of the Rolls’ – Right Honourable Sir Geofrey Vox is second only to the Lord Chief Justice in seniority and is known to sit on some of the more legally complex cases before the Court of Appeal.  The Appellant is Melanie Newman, freelance journalist with a particular interest in the family courts. She is being represented by Anya Proops, Qeens Counsel (QC), of 11 Kings Bench Walk Chambers. (I’m only referring to the QC’s leading the bigger legal teams because it’s they who will be visibly leading on the day for their clients). Southampton City Council are represented by Heather Rogers QC, of Doughty Street Chambers. The child’s Guardian is represented by Deidre Fottrell QC, of 1 Garden Court Chambers.  What’s being appealed? Mrs Justice Roberts’ (2019) decision that Newman should not have access to the full set of documentary evidence the family court relied on when ordering (in 2017) that a child needed to be adopted, in order that Newman might investigate how that decision (later overturned by the Court of Appeal with the child going back home) came about.  The published judgment with the decision and reasoning being appealed is here: Newman v Southampton City Council & Ors [2020] EWHC 2103 (Fam) (05 August 2020. How did we get here and why might it matter to the mother and the journalist? When setting aside the 2017 decision that the child required adoption (the Placement Order), the Court of Appeal said that the Placement Order had been made on ‘the slimmest of evidence’.  The only reason the child wasn’t adopted, with all ties to her birth family severed against her parent’s wishes, was her mother’s appeal to the Court of Appeal. Legal aid was not available to her and it cost her some £20,000 that she could ill afford. Newman followed the case with other journalists. She was interested in how the decision to recommend adoption was reached by the local authority and endorsed by the court. Including what might be driving an apparent trend in this particular local authority of an unusually high percentage of cases resulting in adoption orders. Confidentiality rules prevent parents sharing the court documents or the substance of what goes on in children’s court cases with journalists and others. Nor can anyone including the media publish them. The rules apply even if the court case is long finished, or a parent is worried about a miscarriage of justice, or publication won’t involve anything that would identify the child or family. Breach of the rules is potentially a contempt of court. The only option is to apply to court for the rules to be relaxed in your particular case to the extent you need them to be to do the thing you want to do.  Newman decided to apply to the family court for permission to have copies of the court documents that the judge had access to when making the Placement Order in 2017 (the court file). She wanted to understand the decision better and decide from there whether or not she then wanted to apply separately for permission to report anything. (Appeals are subject to different rules. The starting point is that they can be reported though a specific reporting restriction order may be made in the particular case as applies here. What is already in a published family court judgment can also be published so long as the anonymity of the family members is strictly maintained. The 2018 Court of Appeal judgment has already been published on an anonymised basis. See links below).  The child’s mother had full legal decision making rights (parental responsibility) for her child who was 7 years old by the time of the application. She wanted the journalist to access the papers to investigate and potentially for lessons to be learnt from her families experience. She consented on behalf of herself and her child.  Her application was heard in the High Court by Mrs Justice Roberts who reviewed the law on the balance between competing confidentiality / privacy etc rights (Article 8 of the Human Rights Act) and freedom of expression (Article 12) rights; weighed them in the particular case; and concluded that a few limited documents such as those relating to the mother rather than the child should be shared with the journalist. Others like the social work assessments and expert reports about the child, and the social work witness statements and medical records should not . Mrs Justice Roberts considered that she wasn’t dealing with an application of a mother for permission to share documents in her possession but of a professional journalist for documents she couldn’t otherwise access since the mother no longer had the documents. The cost and time it would take the local authority to redact and copy the documents and public policy arguments, as well as issues relating to the child’s privacy rights (couched mainly in fairly general terms) all featured in her reasoning. See para 111 onwards of her judgment and a summary of her legal reasoning at the 11KBW blog. What are the legal issues for the Court of Appeal? There are links to at the foot of this blog post on the wider picture and arguments about the right balance between confidentiality and transparency (including public confidence in the family court system) being looked at more generally by the president in his transparency review.  The appeal concerns the same law on the proper balance between competing privacy and freedom of speech rights. Applied specifically to an application by a journalist to see the court file on the particular facts applying, including the consent of a parent on behalf of her young child.  It’s the first time the question of how far journalists should be permitted access to documents placed on the court file in public law family proceedings has really been scrutinized in this way. The Court of Appeal granted permission for the appeal because it raised the following matter of significant public interest: The balance as between Article 8 and Article 10 where a responsible journalist seeks access to court papers; including consideration of the approach of the court to the Article 8 interests of a young child where a person with parental responsibility wishes to consent to full disclosure of all the court papers on behalf of the child, the subject of the proceedings.’ At this point I’d love to suggest readers turn to the published, anonymised legal argument documents lodged with the court by the leading barristers on behalf of the appellant journalist, local authority and child’s Guardian, to really follow this hearing and provide the link. I can’t of course because they are not published and I may not publish them. I have however at the time of writing just received the third of the skeleton arguments on behalf of the parties on the basis of legal rules that permit accredited journalists attending the hearing to request them, but not as yet had the opportunity to absorb these. Further Reading Michael White wrote about the original decision here at the 11 KBW Panopticon Blog. We also saw reports at Local Government Lawyer, the Gazette, and Hold the Front Page. Melanie Newman wrote for the Transparency Project here about her experience of applying and why it mattered. Mrs Justice Roberts published her decision and her subsequent decisions not to allow permission to appeal and on costs here. The anonymised, published judgment from the Court of Appeal decision on the Placement Order is here. A Transparency Project blog about the Court of Appeal decision about the Placement Order with links to media reports of it is here. A Transparency Project blog about journalist Louise Tickle’s earlier appeal in the Court of Appeal against a reporting restriction order in the same family case, which lead to the President issuing guidance on how press applications to relax reporting restrictions should be dealt with is here. Start here for more on the wider transparency review underway. See here for a recent submission to the Law Commission urging legal reform. Feature Pic: RCJ4 image by piqsels
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Re S [2020] EWHC 2940 (Fam)

Re S [2020] EWHC 2940 (Fam) | Children In Law | Scoop.it
The mother contended that her three children, aged 14, 10 and 8, had been wrongfully retained in England. She applied, pursuant to the Hague Convention 1980, for their summary return to Poland and, pursuant to Brussels IIa, for the recognition and enforcement of an order made by the Polish District Court. The father opposed the return. The parents were Polish nationals, and the children had been born in the USA, before moving to Poland. The parents had separated after the father moved to England. During a holiday in England the children had complained of poor treatment by the mother, and the father had not returned them. Mr A. Verdan QC (sitting as a deputy High Court judge) found that the children's habitual residence had remained in Poland, but that the exception under Article 13(b) had been made out, the children being at risk of physical ill-treatment and unacceptable chastisement by the mother. He would not exercise his discretion to return the children to Poland pursuant to the Hague application. Considering the second application, he noted that he had not been made aware of any authority suggesting that the court, having refused a return via the Hague Convention, should at the same hearing enforce a return via Brussels IIa, and he declined to do so. He encouraged the parties to engage in mediation. Judgment, published: 03/03/2021 Topics Share
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

The observer’s dilemma: does negotiating access with power and parties – Bath Publishing Limited

The observer’s dilemma: does negotiating access with power and parties – Bath Publishing Limited | Children In Law | Scoop.it
A panel of leading lawyers, journalists and campaigners discuss whether an observer can maintain their independence throughout the proceedings when they must negotiate access with both parties and judiciary.
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

AB v CD [2021] EWHC 375 (Fam)

AB v CD [2021] EWHC 375 (Fam) | Children In Law | Scoop.it
An application by the father for the summary return of his son to Italy, pursuant to the Hague Convention 1980 and, to the extent that it remained part of UK domestic law, Brussels IIa. The parents were Italian nationals who were born, married and lived in South Africa. Following a move to Italy, the couple separated and in October 2019 the mother brought the child to England, where he now lived with her at an undisclosed location. The father had reported the abduction to the Italian police. Mr David Lock QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, came to the conclusion that there was a strong possibility that the Mother had set out in a deliberate and calculated way to mislead the court, as to the father's consent to her bringing the child to England, and as to her ability to speak Italian. He declined to exercise the discretion to suspend the return order, thinking it better for the mother to engage with the Italian authorities investigating the abduction sooner rather than later. He made an order to require the return of the child forthwith to Italy. Judgment, published: 04/03/2021 Topics Share Twitter Facebook LinkedIn
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Understanding parental alienation and what you can do about it Tickets, Wed 24 Feb 2021 at 17:30

Understanding parental alienation and what you can do about it Tickets, Wed 24 Feb 2021 at 17:30 | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Eventbrite - Stowe Family Law presents Understanding parental alienation and what you can do about it - Wednesday, 24 February 2021 - Find event and ticket information.
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Family courts rule to inoculate children when parents disagree on the vaccination of their children | News | Garden Court Chambers | Leading Barristers located in London, UK

Family courts rule to inoculate children when parents disagree on the vaccination of their children | News | Garden Court Chambers | Leading Barristers located in London, UK | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Blog post by Luke McLean of the Garden Court Chambers Family Team.
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

I found one bruise — and they took my baby away | News | The Sunday Times

I found one bruise — and they took my baby away | News | The Sunday Times | Children In Law | Scoop.it
Holly Kobayashi was in bed, breastfeeding her eight-day-old son, when she noticed a little bruise on his left arm. It was tiny, around the size of a 5p piece, but it was about to change their lives.
No comment yet.
Scoop.it!

Dictionary of Private Children Law is "an invaluable tool for anyone needing a pithy summary of the relevant law" | Class Legal

Dictionary of Private Children Law is "an invaluable tool for anyone needing a pithy summary of the relevant law" | Class Legal | Children In Law | Scoop.it
The latest edition to our Class Legal library is the result of a 'lockdown project' initiated by Zoe Saunders (Barrister and Mediator at St John's Chambers), and in collaboration with contributing author of Dictionary of Financial Remedies, HHJ Edward Hess. Together they have teamed up with experts Piers Pressdee QC (Barrister, 4PB) and Dr Rob George (Barrister, Harcourt Chambers) to bring Dictionary of Private Children Law, a unique reference guide to the key concepts, cases and practice of private children law. The foreword for this first edition has been written by The Rt Hon Lord Justice Baker. I am delighted to have been asked to write a short Foreword to the first edition of this excellent new work. Following the success of the Dictionary of Financial Remedies, many of us have been urging Edward Hess to turn his attention to the private law relating to children. Once again, he has assembled a crack team of assistants, all of whom are well known as highly-qualified specialists in this area. Having in the dim and distant past co-written two books with one of these distinguished authors, I can assure readers that every entry has been rigorously checked, including the footnotes. This volume is not intended to be a substitute for the many practitioner’s books, nor for the compendious sources of materials such as the Family Court Practice. But its style and format make it an invaluable tool for anyone needing a pithy summary of the relevant law. The number of entries illustrates the astonishingly wide range of issues that arise in private children law. On behalf of the readers of this work, I have road tested the dictionary by reference to a random list of topics and have found it to be succinct, clear and informative. Writing as I do in the middle of the third lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems unlikely that we will all return to court in the near future. When we do, we will find the conveniently-designed dictionary slips easily into our briefcases. Unlike many law books, its light weight will not increase the risk of back injury. And for as long as we continue to endure remote hearings, I confidently expect to see advocates and indeed judges casting a surreptitious glance at the dictionary to refresh their memories of the multitude of legal principles which arise in these cases. But a volume on private children law in this country needs to address a wider audience than the professionals working in the court system. As is well known, the restrictions on public funding introduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 has led to a very significant increase in the number of litigants in person in private children cases. Reading the documents which unrepresented parties file in such cases, it is only too clear how daunting and difficult many of them find the ordeal of coming to terms with the processes of the family court. I hope litigants in person will find this volume to be an accessible and helpful introduction to guide them through the thickets of the legal forest. The dictionary format and clever use of cross-references will be of particular help to the litigant who may initially be bewildered by the sheer volume and complexity of law in this field. The law relating to children changes rapidly. It is therefore reassuring to know that the authors intend that this work should be updated annually so that everyone can keep up to speed with legal developments. I congratulate Judge Hess and his colleagues on this invaluable addition to the family law library. The Dictionary of Private Children Law is available to pre-order as a hard copy (A4, paperback) or eBook (delivered via our bespoke eReader) for just £60 (full published price from 1st March is £65). The book can be purchased as a print and digital bundle for £85 or as part of a bundle with its sister publication, Dictionary of Financial Remedies for £100 (saving you £20). PRE-ORDER TODAY To be published March 2021 | Free P&P
No comment yet.