The most recent offender to be placed on Nearly Legal’s naughty step is the “family law expert” quoted in a recent Daily Mail article concerning the recent
Supreme Court decision in Yemshaw. Adam Wagner at the UK Human Rights Blog has also commented on the endemic problem of inaccurate legal reporting, using this case as an example. It’s a pretty good example of just that. It drives me crazy that cases are so often reported so as to give the public a wholly skewed or confused understanding of what has really happened and why – it’s not just human rights cases as pointed out by Adam. There is also a pattern of misreporting or inadequately reporting family cases. There are particular difficulties associated with reporting family cases accurately, but I’m with Thumper on this: “If you can’t say nothin’ accurate then don’t say nothin’ at all” (I’ve posted on this before, one example here). As for the article in The Mail, if it had not been so comprehensively covered by Nearly Legal and UKHR Blog I would be railing about it at length for, just like Bambi, it makes me want to weep. That the nature and seriousness of domestic violence is so little understood and appreciated should be no surprise, but it is always a shock to see it in black and white.
The Yemshaw judgment does rather bring home the impossibly inconsistent proposals in the Government’s Legal Aid Green Paper in respect of the exception on legal aid funding for victims of domestic violence in family cases, which hopes to neatly limit “domestic violence” to violence causing physical harm for the purposes of public funding, in order to avoid all those messy cases at the perimeter. It seems hardly credible now (if it ever did) that the Government can continue to gesture about it’s recognition of the need to protect the vulnerable victims of domestic violence, and can persist in its proposal to provide that protection by creating an exceptional category of persons eligible for public funding in family for victims of “domestic violence”, unless it is to embrace the definition set out in Yemshaw (which merely confirms the basis upon which we have all been working for years). I understand the desire to create a scheme that is easy to administer and understand, but the reality is that relationships are complex things, and the aspiration to have a black and white definition is in reality no more more sophisticated than a requirement for black and blue.