Oh Dear…

No time to tell you about it in detail, but here is another new judgment (C (A Child), Re [2013] EWCA Civ 1412 (21 November 2013)) regarding another private law train wreck that has careered off the rails and gone completely off road…(to mix my transporty metaphors)… Nothing at all to do with the absence of lawyers of course. Not a harbinger for the future AT. ALL. *deadpan face*

15 thoughts on “Oh Dear…

  1. This Judgment shows that when behind the wheel of a juggernaut that is Family Law and the courts there are a lot of wheels that can fall off the wagon, without early intervention by experienced professionals and not just the need for Lawyers the jackknifed juggernaut is not easily righted and set back on its way on the right road.

    The judgment has shown that lack of judicial continuity and the following of orders disasters happen and these train wrecks will become more frequent.

    There is no hiding behind a screen to the problems faced within the Family Courts and while Pres. Munby is robustly pushing for reform, the aspect of proceedings continuing without an experienced person at the helm then what hope is there for the litigant in persons,

    I have been exceptionally concerned of late to receive many pleas for help from parents [25 in last 7 days] the parents who were managing their cases amicably, however, simply reached the end of their tether with all the new legislation, PD’s and reforms, I would also say even the hardened of Lawyers I have spoken too are facing headaches.

    I am waiting with bated breath the plethora of appeals concerning the 26 WK conclusion time frame, without taking the concerns raised in this Re.C case then one would imagine the COA is going to be over run with appeals and well it is going to be the place to be next year.

  2. “Lady Justice Macur
    I agree. The extensive catalogue of errors and repeated breach of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 and other statutory codes identified so comprehensively by my Lord, Ryder LJ serves to underline the fact that this father was denied natural justice at almost every stage of the proceedings. Lack of competent legal representation played its part. The financial and human resource cost to the court system of repeated, non effective short appointments, non focused issue resolution hearings and a consequent appeal by reason of a litigant in person’s lack of expertise is great. The potential for emotional cost to this and other parent/child relationships comprised by delay and lack of due process is inestimable.”
    Fire Fighting instead of Case Management & an unprofessional Cafcass Officer let down a litigant in person. They are paid to do their jobs. They didn’t discharge their duties in any meaningful sense.

  3. I would like to say that this is beyond belief, but I can’t because it isn’t.

    There is a terrible danger – especially in the absence of lawyers – to assume that “there is no smoke without fire” and that people don’t make these allegations out of the whole cloth.

    But it won’t do, and where, as here, there is no lawfully adduced evidence there is no case to answer.

    As for “family courts advisors” giving evidence from behind a screen, don’t get me started. What next? Judges in masks to hide their faces, like a mediaeval Vehmgericht?

  4. The fact that lawyers were not present does not excuse a whole litany of proffessionals including judges and cafcass officer falling well short of their professional obligations and expectations. When lawyers are not present then surely there is even greater onus on the the professionals in question to make sure that procedure is followed to the letter. If a cafcass officer can only follow correct procedure if there is an opposing lawyer on case to question decisions and directions made by them,then surely it’s time to look at the adequacy of that particular public service.

  5. I agree with Suzi’s comments. The major apportionment of blame should rest squarely
    on the judges. The catastrophic events have nothing to do with litigants turning up in person. It’s more to do with a succession of judges picking up files ten minutes before the hearing then acting outside the rules.

    As for Cafcass, I thought Theresa May had promised to abolish them.

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2004/oct/05/childrensservices.conservatives2004

    What are they still doing messing up people’s lives?

  6. It is so easy to see how this happened. A judge new to the case; a “neutral” witness; a nice, clean, neat document in chronological order; and a litigant in person who ticked all the stereotypical boxes.

    How many more such cases have never got to appeal?

  7. Stephen McNally

    That has to be the first time I have heard someone who appears to know the law state that the CAFCASS service isn’t fit for purpose.

    The people who have to put up with CAFCASS have known for years that it isn’t fit for purpose but the solicitors have been complicit in not stopping the total incompetence of CAFCASS officers in the 21st Century.

    I can talk with experience as I am a Father who put up with incompetent CAFCASS officers. Having watched Solicitors totally screw up my case even though I had gained shared parenting through mediation.
    [edited]
    So the only reason my children are safe is because I foiught for them when my solicitors and CAFCASS were only in it for themselves

    The system has fallen apart due to Solicitors taking too much in fees and CAFCASS being an inept and flawed organisation.

    Peoples lives have been destroyed due to those two institutions. I would rather pay a Barrister for 1 day in court rather than a solicitor who is only interested in money and a CAFCASS officer who is only interested in an easy life.

    Children’s lives are far too important and the system has to change to deal with things before court.
    Mediation should be run by mediators not solicitors who want to be mediators, psychologists should be involved to understand the parents and help the children, counsellors should be involved to help the parents cope with separation.

    Non of this has ever been mentioned by Legal people because they are only interested in how much money they will lose.

    CAFCASS should have been shut down years ago but solicitors didn’t say a word so I blame them above the idiots running CAFCASS. That is because solicitors have the ears of judges and if judges knew the truth about CAFCASS they would never let them into court due to incompetence.

    [edited]
    Solicitors destroyed the system because they grew too greedy. The gravy train was derailed because they gave the Tories the ability to say it cost too much.

    Blame yourselves all of you.

    You failed the public, yourselves, the courts and most important of all the innocent children who suffer because the adults in their world don’t have anyone to stop them using the kids as pawns or go on to abuse them.

    Your system is about to implode either fix the things that are broken or you will never be in it again because a new one will not need you.

    • Thanks for your comment Stephen, You will see I’ve edited it twice. The first bit because it gave details of your court case, the second because it was basically an advert.
      Lucy

  8. Don’t worry everyone. We are confidently told by that esteemed family law barrister, Edward Timpson MP (aka the government’s children’s minister), that the alleged problem of anti-father bias in family law is purely one of perception and that in reality the Children Act works very well with the welfare of the child always uppermost. The child’s welfare will be even further enhanced by the Children Act with its new and explicit reference to child safety, thus ensuring paternal contact will only take place when it is considered safe enough to allow it.

  9. Lucy,

    I accept the first edit due to potential court issues. Although based on the fact the only indication in Family cases is the number. I doubt anyone would connect my comments with my case.

    I don’t accept the second as I was indicating the fact that there is an ability to use a Mackenzie friend rather than a solicitor to counter an earlier comment by someone knocking someone not legally trained assisting in court.

    Your second edit does show the problem with the legal profession though. That it thinks it is the law and is better than anyone else.

    Your not you have just had more training and experience.

    The court is made up of many facets solicitors are only one and based on the ones I know and have been up against you are not going to last much longer outside PI claims management.

    The Barristers will take over using legal secretaries to sort out the paperwork.

    I wish you luck you are going to need it.

    Regards

    Steve

    • I don’t delete case details because the public might identify them, I do it because it is breach of the rules and a potential contempt of court not to. In any event I’m pretty sure your ex and your children would have been able identify themselves from your name and the details you gave. Oops.

      As to the second edit, it shows nothing of the sort. It shows that it’s my blog and I have quite strict rules on advertising, which I took the view your comment offended against. Nothing to do with the law. I don’t offer advertising to solicitors, nor do I do so to McKenzies. Comment is always welcome. I’m not better than anyone else – you would be entitled to do exactly the same if I put an adverty comment on your own blog.

      Lucy

  10. Mr Timpson also confirms that the moon is made of green cheese.

    So that’s all right then.

  11. I don’t believe that legal representation is unnecessary or in any way detrimental to those who choose to use it or to the children involved in these often very upsetting cases. I do however believe that the choice to be represented in court or guided through the process is now only available to the very wealthy. The help for the very poor has now been removed but it has long been the case that the biggest sector of society by far which is the vast majority of people on modest to middle incomes have long been priced out of the market.

    I suspect that there are many more thousands of fathers than anyone has statistics for, who have been alienated from their childrens lives or have very poor relationships under very difficult circumstances but because they fall into the vast majority of people who could never contemplate a legal battle for financial reasons go unnoticed or possibly even worse, mistakenly considered by statisticians and policy makers to be amongst the majority of people who are actually getting on with it just fine.

    If the decision to remove legal aid from family law has alerted a greater number of the public to the fact that legal representation is by far from a prerequisite and most certainly not a necessity to gain access to the family law courts, then that is a very positive though I suspect, unintended by product in my view. I suspect that the the courts may now be inundated with cases brought by litigants in person but that the majority of these will not be those who may have once been granted legal aid but those who have now been alerted to the very concept of being a litigant in person.

    If lawyers wish to still play a part in family law then I suspect that they must make the shift from promoting full legal representation to offering the lesser role of supporting and advising litigants in person, at a price that is realistic, to navigate the court process. Who knows, maybe a much bigger market would open up and dwarf the one they have lost through the removal of legal aid.

  12. When you get the kind of fatuous remark as seen in Andrew’s above, it’s not hard to comprehend that the struggle separated fathers face is often as much from within as without. As much as the bills, it’s these sneering attitudes that fathers sense coming from their legal representatives that causes them to stick two fingers up and go it alone as LIPs.

  13. Paul: I was being sarcastic. It’s as true that there is no bias against fathers as carers as that the moon is made of . . . work it out for yourself. It works out in your favour.

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