Book Review : Family Justice : The work of Family Judges in Uncertain Times

Family Justice – The Work of Family Judges in Uncertain Times, John Eekelaar and Mavis Maclean, Hart Publishing 2013.


I anticipated that this book would be a dry old read but in fact it was (to me at least) really rather interesting, and gave me some helpful ways of understanding and articulating the judicial process and the nature of the family justice system in this jurisdiction – both its strengths and it’s weaknesses.

It is easy to say “but that’s madness” in response to the latest cut or hairbrained reform proposal. It is harder to say why, to articulate the delicate balance and the hows and whys of our arrival at the present imperfect but nonetheless sophisticated system. I will find it a little easier now I have this book under my belt.

I’ve been in the field for a decade or so which makes me a child of the Children Act generation – I know of but did not experience the dark days before its inception. For those who want a longer view than their own first hand experience provides this book is useful. And for me it reinforced some of the instinctive rebuttals I often issue to critics of the system – it gives an evidential underpinning to the arguments based on logic and experience. It is easy (and right) to criticise the weaknesses of a system that does not effectively enforce its orders – but I’ve yet to find a critic that has a better solution that does not create its own problems. The “enforcement paradox” for example is no doubt a concept not new to this publication, but it was for me a new way of articulating a well understood phenomenon for which I am grateful.

So. This book conducts something of a comparison between our approach in this jurisdiction and in others, for example Australia. It looks at the Family Justice Review and subsequent reforms, proposed and enacted. It worries openly about the direction of travel and the future, frets about the characterisation as all time spent as “delay”, busts a few myths about the efficacy of mediation and PIPs as a panacea, and reminds us of the multi-layered role that family judges actually perform – in private law at least far more dispute resolution, solution finding than decision making.

It really is an excellent and thought provoking read, essential for anyone who wants to discuss current reforms in their proper context.

At a Glance At A Glance

ataglance2013I received a free review copy of At A Glance today.

But this poses something of a conundrum. What to say about the ubiquitous At a Glance? It is slender, it is reliable, it is full of answers to numbery questions that people who know what Ancillary Relief was need to know. It is what it says on the cover “Essential”. Beyond that…? I’m struggling on the word count.

But here is what 2 anonymous sources thought on delivery:

“Don’t think much of this year’s cover colour” (2012 was gold, 2011 puce).


“Difficult to be anything but really positive if you do finances. That and the Red Book are complete ‘must haves’.  I would cut down on my champagne budget for it… but don’t spread that rumour round :-)”

And there you have it: At a Glance, at a glance.

PS Apparently there is some new stuff in it on arbitration….

Book Review : Moranthology

I realised as I arrived at Bristol International Airport ready to embark a plane for Cyprus that I had failed to bring any holiday reading save for a copy of Feminist Judgments that my husband bought me for Christmas 2010 at my specific request and which I have been trying to read ever since. This I realised was quite embarrassing holiday reading. I said huffily to my husband that “If they sell it in an airport bookshop I don’t want to read it”, but nestling in between 50 Shades of Harry Potter and Grazia I found Caitlin Moran’s Moranthology – so I gave up whining and took it to the till. It’s an anthology of her stuff in The Times.

I used to read Caitlin Moran regularly before the descent of the paywall, usually over Sunday lunch at mum and dad’s (I’ve given up buying papers since having children – they seem only ever to be used for covering up the table when the kids are painting these days). And it was only as I read this book that it dawned on me that I probably owe something to her in terms of writing style, although I’m far more cackhanded than her and the subject matter on Pink Tape is generally less…er…racy. My recurring thought whilst reading was “OMG that sounds like me” – or at any rate how I want to sound – or maybe how I think I sound? It was in truth a little spooky.

Look, I’m fresh back from holiday and still trying to ride the “slightly relaxed” wave (more of a ripple now) – so I can’t be doing with a full on review. Here’s the gist : Great book, good fun. Made me laugh out loud on my sunlounger and get disapproving looks from the sourfaced pensioners glowering around the pool (never go to Cyprus once the schools have gone back, it’s full of silver haired tutters competing for the title of most sunburnt manboobs). Pokes some interesting and important topics before running away giggling hysterically. Which I wholly admire. And I now have a crush on Caitlin Moran’s hair.

You can read more about Moranthology here.