More relentless self promotion

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Just a short post to say I’ve finally got my public access site back on stream – it has been poorly for some time due to some inexplicable technical problem.

Do take a look if you or someone you know may wish to instruct me. It should give a good idea of what I do and don’t do and how I operate public access.

My clerks get a lot of enquiries from people who have found me on the internet, but I often have to say no because

  • they are unable to pay any fees (sadly I’ve had to beef up what I say on the site about this because experience has taught me (and my clerks) that people often “forget” to mention the fact that they have no funds in the hope that I will give a little bit of off the cuff free advice by accident. Sorry, but this is not economically viable or fair on clients – I advise properly or not at all.)
  • they are at the other end of the country and it is not economic or practical to instruct a barrister so far away
  • they are not able to manage the “litigation” part of the case or the case itself requires a solicitor to handle and sort it out (not suitable for public access)
  • the area of work is something I don’t cover
  • I am unavailable on the date of the hearing or can’t do the necessary amount of work by the time a deadline expires

Public access is a great option to have available, but is not always better or cheaper – it depends on the case and the client. If a case is unsuitable for public access a client can request that their solicitor instructs a barrister of their choice, and I quite often send potential clients off to find a solicitor, on the basis that myself or another barrister can always be instructed at a later stage if required.

The site is designed to try and help people to avoid making enquiries that are bound not to go anywhere and includes an enquiry form containing a lot of the basic questions that I need answered before I can make any decisions about whether I can help – saving clients and my clerks time and energy.

The site is at

You’ve got your CAP on backwards

Yes, apparently wearing the CAP at a rakish angle is not OK. Also, please note appearing in court or indeed ANY.WHERE. dressed like these chaps is also not OK.

The President has issued a reminder to all DFJs, piggybacking on the reminder issued by Pauffley J after problems on her patch. Our DFJ has cascaded the reminders to professionals in our area and I now pass them on.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you :
CAP – Case management

CAP Case management letter from The President of the Family Division

Daily Mail in accurate reporting of shocking case shocker

The headline and sub-headlines :

Judge blasts social workers for LYING under oath and doctoring a report as part of an attempted ‘cover-up’ over the future of five children taken away from their parents

  • Judge Mark Horton said there was a ‘deliberate and calculated’ change
  • Original report of parents’ assessment provided ‘positives’ and ‘negatives’
  • Workers at Hampshire council wanted the children to stay in foster care
  • Judge said changes improved the case for removing children from family

Suesspicious Minds has already checked its accuracy with the judgment from BAILII (A, B, C, D and E (Final Hearing) [2015] EWFC B186) and written it up here – and he is rightly flabbergasted. This is not a wind up or a massive hyper-exaggerated summary of some run of the mill case – it is awful and shameful behaviour properly brought to light by the judgment and the media.

It is the sort of thing that parents fear happens all the time, and whilst I don’t think it does happen all the time, we cannot say it never happens.

Sadly, the negative outcome of the proceedings is a reminder that successfully attacking the integrity of your social workers can only get you so far. You do still have to be able to demonstrate your ability to be a basically competent and safe parent, which often requires some ability to work constructively with professionals (assuming of course that threshold has been crossed). So, as I say to all my clients – these things are important but let’s not get overexcited or lose focus on building a POSITIVE CASE.

As the 2014 guidance on publications makes clear (entirely consistently with previous case law), in these sorts of circumstances social workers should be named. One can only imagine that the findings made will have quite serious implications for them professionally. They both appear to be registered with the HCPC who are the relevant regulatory body in terms of professional conduct of social workers. As flagged up in the judgment / blog post there may be other consequences, such as internal disciplinary processes and / or police investigation. I will either blog directly or link to any post by Suesspicious Minds (he always beats me to it) as and when any further installments arrive.