Family Courts in the dock

Hat Tip to John Bolch at Family Lore for this story on a class action against ‘The Family Courts’ in the Hague. How – urm…audacious. I hope there is more substance to this suit than is apparent from either the company organising the action or this Telegraph article, from which one might form the impression that it is lawful or commonplace to remove children on the sole basis of a risk of future harm without proving any base facts. I think perhaps somebody should send them a copy of Re B [2008] UKHL 35.

12 thoughts on “Family Courts in the dock

  1. melizza moore

    Thankyou for the free publicity

  2. Sam Hallimond

    Thank you for all the wise words!

    Maybe if you had all the facts regarding this action and all the information that is being presented you would be in a better place to comment!

    Oh…thats right! This is why solicitors are not taking part in this…..Its involved work, investigation, no sweeping of facts under a judicial carpet and no aiding local authorities with possible back handers!

    Now….If you find any of that libellous, go fill your boots and sue me!

    • Goodness, why would you think I would be remotely interested in sueing you for libel?! You are entitled to an opinion, as am I (although I don’t see the point in making personal attacks). Even the heinous mistake of describing me as a solicitor is not enough to tempt me down that particular road (for the record I’m a barrister). And as for back handers – if I had any funds burning a hole in my pocket I’d be more likely to use it to reduce my own structural deficit than to give it away.

      Of course I don’t have all the facts about the case, which is why I restricted my comments to what is in the public domain. What is in the public domain looks pretty slim to me, but that may be down to the quality of the reporting as much as anything else. And if you are successful I am sure much more information will become very widely available and we’ll all be able to form a fuller view.

  3. Thats right, it is commonplace to remove children on the sole basis of a risk of future harm, it is based on the balance of probabilities…Facts in the Family Courts ? …Goodness, if only.

  4. Paul Randle-Jolliffe

    I find Re B (2008) UKHL 35 very interesting.

    I have come across such judgements before and in such cases it would appear that EVEN criminal kidnapping (incorporating fraud etc as required in law) are OK if the court followed the correct proceedure, provided the Judge followed the correct proceedure the court of appeal will not overturn a case even if criminal acts have been commited and used in proceedings and kidnap has occured.

    Where as it is a principle in law that criminal acts should not be allowed to suceed in court actions.

    It is issues such as this, there are many other crimes be commited in many cases, these will be dealtwith in the ICJ and that is the point of taking the courts and the LA’s to the court.

    Crimes are being commited and are not able to be dealtwith in the UK courts as proceedural limitations do not allow them to be as once these cases enter family court they become part of some highly disfunctional twighlight zone.

    The action is so that the LA’s and Courts are brought into a proper framework of law and justice!

    You are correct this is an Audacious action.

  5. Shamim Khaliq

    i don’t see where you were described as a solicitor in the original comment, just compared to a solicitor in terms of avoidance of doing any work. am i calling you a social worker if i point out you are twisting people’s words?

    “Maybe if you had all the facts regarding this action and all the information that is being presented you would be in a better place to comment! Oh…that’s right! This is why solicitors are not taking part in this…..It involves work, investigation, no sweeping of facts under a judicial carpet and no aiding local authorities with possible back handers!”

    • Well, either way I’m not terribly bothered by it. I prefer to be judged on my actions not on people’s impressions of my profession as a whole. And since the author of the solicitor remark does not know me I think my ego will withstand it without having to resort to a libel action. I’m not interested in a fight, just reporting the fact that this case is due to be launched.

  6. Shamim Khaliq

    i agree, best to avoid name-calling. i do hope you mean what you say about you are an individual and to be judged on your actions. you believe “it is lawful or commonplace to remove children on the sole basis of a risk of future harm without proving any base facts.” to be untrue. may i provide counter-evidence?

    Professionals with an area of expertise that measure directly are far better judges of risk to children than SS who focus on the negative (; children’s services are more likely to award kids to abusive than non-abusive parents ( In fact, direct observation of 90 minutes a day over 3 days can help determine if a child is abused or neglected ( Instead, once an allegation of child abuse is made, social workers begin with an assumption that the abuse has occurred and their investigations are skewed toward providing evidence to support the allegation and not to take an impartial, even-handed or open-minded approach. evidence which can exonerate parents is often disregarded, ignored or withheld, or in some instances the evidence against them is distorted, embellished and fabricated (Prosser and Lewis, 1992; 1995). evidence is often faulty due to biased or dishonest reporting or errors in communication and SS are slow to revise their judgements despite a mounting body of evidence against them. SWs rely heavily on faulty intuitive skills; SWs’ first impression of a family has enduring impact and parents’ reactions to professionals during the investigation are taken as representative of the quality of parenting normally available to the child. SS are sceptical about information when it conflicts with their view of the family but are uncritical when the new evidence supports their view. children’s testimony is accepted when it corroborates the social worker’s assessment and doubted when it challenges it. Evidence from members of the public is completely ignored and written evidence is repeatedly overlooked in preference for direct reports from those present. SWs have a poor understanding of statistical risk factors. ( SWs are more concerned with making a defensible decision than a right one. the deployment of large resources to child protection rather than family support is inefficient and ineffective.
    a confidential non-punitive approach may be preferred
    pg xix

    ever since the numbers on child protection registers or subject to place of safety orders rose markedly (from 7,600 in 1985 to 29,800 by 1987 and 41,200 by 1989 and more mums are losing their kids (, infanticide has been rocketing up (; nearly all murderous mums have previously been referred to children’s services, though their kids are not on the child protection register at the time of death (falkov, 1996; reder & duncan, 1999). Infanticide may be a natural outcome of a non-supportive child protection system ( )

    there are 2 child-care systems: 1) nordic countries’ expensive “maximum public responsibility” one (sweden, finland, denmark) 2) hands-off “maximum private responsibility” british and american. Australia is lumped with the UK and US as being “major laggards” (Kamerman & Kahn, 1991, pg 201). america and britain are high risk areas where children’s needs and rights are ignored (moss et al., 1999, pg 25-26). in the UK, it is believed that the state should not encourage dependency by offering support to families (pg 19, denmark and finland have more child-care services than sweden, but in sweden, child-care services are embedded in parent-friendly policies regarding leave for sick children and to go to school events and reduced working hours… historically, sweden preferred to train and employ women more than immigrants (ruggie, 1984, pg 249; jonung & thordarsson, 1980, pg 109) so there was no second wave of feminism in this country. the swedish system provides more universally and protects children’s rights more (moss et al., 1999, pg 37; dahlberg, 1997, pg22).

  7. Shamim Khaliq

    dear familyloo,
    i am so sorry this topic is so emotive with strong opinions on many sides because it is counter-productive to positive change, which the govt. agrees must be made: and (get your MP to sign early day motion )

    these topics of confidential family support (prof. eileen munroe, the govt. researcher is pro this), parents’ and grandparents’ rights (to be given right to take time off work to be with kids), accountability (serious case reviews to be made public), shared parenting (gender-neutral laws protecting non-residential parents’ rights to contact), domestic violence (the govt have already come out as saying it is no longer a reason to take a child off a parent), reduction in the scope of a SW’s power (to work in teams with NHS and police and only to talk to child, all the adult stuff will be done by someone else),… are being discussed by govt. at the moment, notwithstanding prof eileen munroe’s summary research to be published in the autumn. the medical profession and police are being involved discreetly. i believe the law profession can do the same. you are most eloquent and well-educated and your specialist knowledge is invaluable. can you not make your personal opinion of the system, taking a solutions not blame oriented stance, known to those in power?

  8. Shamim Khaliq

    i don’t know if you got my penultimate message showing SWs are more likely to favour abusers than non-abusers for child-custody and are the least likely of all the professionals to correctly identify abuse. mums who have been investigated by the SS and had their cases closed constitute the primary cause of rising infanticide levels. after men, babies are the biggest homicide category. the fear of child loss results in parents not accessing e.g. medical services. cross-cultural studies show family support to be much more effective at reducing child abuse than child protection, which actually escalates it.

    because the message isn’t showing up. here’s a link:

    please do read my research because it may confirm many of your own suspicions.

  9. Paul Randle-Jolliffe


    I think some people are very upset at how they have been criminaly treated and the intervention is to address such matters.

  10. […] leave aside what the law actually says about this (if you are really interested in that see here), and think of an extreme example to illustrate the principle: A mother is observed to regularly […]

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