CAFCASS Judicial Review

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. I’m only surprised it wasn’t sooner – mutterings about this petered out some months ago on the issue of the President’s interim Guidance on managing the CAFCASS crisis.

But now a firm of solicitors acting for a child involved in proceedings have secured public funding to launch a Judicial Review of CAFCASS and the Department for Children Schools & Families which funds it. The Official Solicitor will be taking responsibility for the case, which is now in preparation. As part of that preparation solicitors in the case are gathering evidence from professionals up and down the country in respect of CAFCASS delays and the impact upon children caught up in proceedings.

The solicitors handling this case are at pains to stress that such a challenge is not one aimed at running down the hard working CAFCASS Officers who are overwhelmed by impossible caseloads, but at the funding and management of the organisation as a whole which has led to the wholescale collapse of service provision for children within timescales appropriate to them.

No doubt a JR will be difficult to pull off, but let us hope that it is sufficiently embarrassing to produce an injection of funding and a rethink on the part of those who manage the purse strings and the organisation.

Watch this space…

UPDATE Evening of Mon 16 Nov: I have had a number of enquiries today about the source of this information. It has come from the solicitors firm involved, who have confirmed they are happy for this basic information to be published. As I understand it this application is at a pre-issue stage and the solicitors are seeking factual information from legal professionals only – I would guess primarily in respect of care cases (or other cases involving a child’s guardian) rather than any case involving CAFCASS. Many of you share your opinions about CAFCASS on this blog, but I believe the exercise at present is one of gathering specific and measurable data rather than opinion or narrative.

As and when more information becomes available I will post it, but for the meantime I’m going to let the solicitors involved get on with their preparation.

16 thoughts on “CAFCASS Judicial Review

  1. Just hoping this “jolt” may end up with improvements to an organisation that not too many people seem happy with.

    From our perspective those of us who have had dealings recognise that the coal-face cafcass officers are not given sufficient time to do a proper job.

    And the results can be terrible beyond words.

    (we would love to host your blog on our website by the way. What do you think)


  2. […] seen this confirmed from any Government source but the ultra reliable Pink Tape blog broke this story […]

  3. Do we know who this firm are? I am a dad and a solicitor involved in children act proceedings. My view is that the system is not equipped with what its trying to do leading to an amplification of the failings in the present law. I would like to contribute.

  4. What’s the source of this story, Lucy?

  5. […] actually be identifiable individuals with names. Elsewhere some solicitors somewhere are intending judicially reviewing Cafcass over their failures to provide children with guardians (with or witout names) when they […]

  6. Who are the solicitors running this JR? Got some measurable, fantastic complaints that are about to be put to the GSCC concerning an ISW who also works for Cafcass if anyone is interested?

    • See update on main post – this is not really what I understand this JR to be about (i.e. instances of poor standards on the part of individual social workers), nor is it the type of information they are presently seeking.

  7. I was a key stakeholder in the consultation process that led to the creation of CAFCAS. I argued that 1) CAFCASS should make its officers accountable for the content of their reports under its complaints policy, 2) its officers should produce draft reports to be agreed with the parties to family law proceedings before presentation to the court, and 3) CAFCASS should improve the methodology of its reports.

    Brian Hitchcock
    Family Law Society

  8. What a load of twaddle. If Mr Hitchcock is who he says he is then he should know that the contents of a Cafacss officers report and its author are the subject of rigid and often lengthy cross examiniation from all the parties.

    To make the contents of reports accountable under the complaints policy would in my humble opinion lead to an even greater increase in complaints being made, whic wold have a further knock on effect for scarce resources.
    Surely his members must indicate that in private law matters at least the parent who considered themselves to be more disadvantaged would in most cases make a complaint.
    The suggestion that a draft copy should be circulated an agreed by hge parties before filing with the Court is a nonsense. Cafcass often deals with dysfunctional families in crisis many of whom experience great difficulty in acknowledging the deficits in their parenting and the impact that this has had on the welfare of their child. In addition, many find it difficult if not imposible to work with social work departments etc. and even at times to mantain contact with their leagal advisers.
    To think that they could consider a draft copy of a report and agree it, I find farcical.
    Anyhow isn’t this what the Issue Resolution Hearing is for?

    Finally he suggested improving the methodology, well he should be well pleased beacuse the workers are inundated with policy changes and changes to report templates all the tie. Often things are changed 2 or 3 times a month and leads to chaos and confusion.
    Alice in Wonderland is what he is.

    • your reply is aggressive,
      I have been to court at least 15 times for our case in 6 years and cafcass have been the issue not us.
      they have made verything so horrid harbouring the animosity and exciting the conflict, What has happened to us is diabolical the abuse from them being shouted at and more. I can not believe that they have any job in social services and they do need to be made accountable it is a disgrace and what this looks like with theier involvement is diabolical.
      what you seem to think and your points are shallow and not in the real world.
      cross examination with no legal aid and to take it to this extreme sensationalising and with 20 min with said child to make informed judgement to court is ridiculous.
      When social services have been involved the way that they have atteneded the matter is so very different it has been in my experience very thorough and good,

  9. I have been through the family court treadmill/grinder for the last six years. As such, I feel Brian Hitchcock’s arguments are valid. I think his only mistake was in believing the creation of CAFCASS was appropriate at all. But if this monster was to be created, at least tie it to accountability and proper operating procedures.

    I feel these cases should be dealt with by the local services, who are accountable and have a vested interest in solving them quickly. Contracted social workers who get repeat work from protracted litigation do not have vested interest in wrapping things up quickly. The very existence of the service relies on their having work to do. CAFCASS do not have the resources to undertake these matters effectively. The local social services can escalate their provisions where thought necessary. The teams dealing with cases would be consistent and so a database of expertise in dealing with matters could quickly be generated. Local authorities could share their experiences. Children would be the overall beneficiaries.

    Most of the intransigent mothers who bar contact for no good reason would not do so if they were to be dealt with by their local social services who, i many cases, are already known to them.

    • Somehow I think you would be disappointed if social services took on the CAFCASS role in private law cases. They often either refuse to do the work or do it so superficially that it is no help at all (apologies to those poor social workers to whom this sweeping statement does not apply) – the reason being that they have far more urgent and serious child protection work to do that must be prioritised over welfare work. I don’t think this usually benefits fathers – often the recommendation is for minimal but safe contact because that does not call for an ongoing role. They may have a quicker turnaround but certainly don’t put in the resources that CAFCASS do (when they get going), particularly in supporting contact.

  10. just a question, exactly who is brian hitchcock is he who he claims to be ??? having researched him i find little evidence of his credentials

  11. yeah exactly who is he really and what legal exams/skills/experience has he to make such comments and did he really help create Cafcass ?

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