Special Guardianship Consultation

The Department of Education has just issued a consultation on Special Guardianship orders. I’m particularly interested in the question about Special Guardianship Assessments, which are often carried out in care proceedings by a separate team in a silo without any reference to the other options for the child. SGO assessments which attempt to stand alone and are not properly incorporated into the broader “realistic options” analysis of a LA lead to linear thinking and erroneous discounting of grandparents.

The consultation closes on 18 September.

You can read the consultation here.

The great legal aid caper

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 22.22.15Today has been rangy. From the moral categorisation via twitter of assorted freakish foodstuffs, prompted by my uncompromisingly rod-like breakfast fruit (should you not already be cognisant of it be warned that capers, black olives, celery, cucumber, and gherkins are ALL EVIL); to the untangling of a spaghetti mountain of loose ends and tangles at Swindon Family Court using nothing but a handful of mobile phones and my best polite smile; to the eye-gougingly dull task of trying to sort out my accounts; to serious talk of perjury; to “fantastic public service blogging” (thank you @jtownend) about legal aid in the shape of my blog for the New Statesman; and ultimately (finally) to a baked potato and a glass of red and an interminable chat with my dad about the new MX5 and his soon to be new knee….(love ya dad)

Anyway, yet again I have failed to do an actual blog. But I am going to create a rangy frankenstein of a blog out of nothing but discarded remnants of today. Even my metaphors are frankenstein-like tonight. Misshapen, mismatched freaks they are…

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 22.23.12Firstly, I will allow my self a mini-brag about being invited to write for the New Statesman. That might be a sort of double negative of a #humblebrag but that’s ok. The blog is about legal aid : How legal aid cases scupper physical or sexual abuse cases in the family courts (and I thought I was bad at blog post names!). I am now strangely petrified I will never think of anything else to write on the site and will forever more be the only New Statesman blogger with but a solitary blog to her name. In truth, based on my track record of never being able to stop talking or writing, this is unlikely but both barristers and writers are predisposed to angst so this is par for the course…

Far more importantly on legal aid is IS v The Director of Legal Aid Casework & Anor [2015] EWHC 1965 (Admin) (15 July 2015), a humdinger of a judgment from Collins J basically trashing the whole exceptional funding scheme under s10 LASPO 2012. It basically says go back to the drawing board and make a scheme which does what it says on the tin. You can read Andrew Pack’s excellent blog post about Collins J’s judgment here, which saves me the trouble. Or if you are even too lazy for that, Andrew pithily summed it up on twitter here :

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Andrew Pack (@suesspiciousmin) has, incidentally, been involved in a game of verbal ping pong with the adoption tzar / csar Martin Narey. A most entertaining read, like some sort of strange ritualistically polite twenty first century word duel (see here and here).

HHJ Bellamy has issued some really useful Transparency Guidance which is published on the LLFJB website – intended for local use but definitely worth a read for family lawyers wherever you are in the jurisdiction.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this selection of freaky fruit. Sweet dreams.