More LASPO Gloom

An Ad Hoc Statistical release by the MoJ that doesn’t mention fat cats…. (h/t @LAWrixon)

This one is about LASPO s10 exceptional funding applications.

Because we like to “add value” (barf) here at PT, I can share the following depressing nuggets with you :

I calculate that for the period April – December 2013 ….

  • Only 3% of applications were successful.
  • 54% of all s10 applications were for family cases.
  • 0.69% of all the applications granted were family – disproportionately low.
  • Family applications had a success rate of 1.29% (the overall success rate of 3% is skewed by a high 15% success rate for inquests with every other category faring far worse. Immigration had a success rate of 1.6% for example.
  • 5.38% of applications were made by individuals without the assistance of a solicitor. Of the 62 such applications, all were rejected or refused, bar one which was withdrawn and one which received a “positive preliminary assessment”. I call that a success rate of NIL. The Guidance suggests that the process is sufficiently straightforward to enable litigants to complete these applications without the assistance of a solicitor but the figures do not bear this out – individuals are not applying in great numbers, and when they do they are FAILING. Given these figures – why would solicitors put in the work? They are almost bound to fail.
  • 14.5% of the applications made by individuals were family applications. They all failed, bar the positive preliminary assessment.

The statistical release says of family applications, predominantly private law children (on page 4) “The overarching question to consider is whether the withholding of legal aid would make the assertion of the claim practically impossible or lead to an obvious unfairness in proceedings.” Whilst I recognise that s10 is by definition meant to be an exceptional provision, I’m not sure that I think that is a satisfactory gloss or even a precis of s10 and the relevant regulations and guidance. I think it sets the test too high, as is rather borne out by the figures.

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32 thoughts on “More LASPO Gloom

  1. Now what could possibly bother me about the family court system??

    1:-Forced adoption 2:-Taking children into care for risk 3:-Gagging parents 4-:Gagging children 5:-Refusing parents leave to call witnesses 6:-Choosing experts and refusing parents any say or having a second opinion.7 :-Branding parents as child abusers on the balance of probabilities 8:-Lawyers who advise clients to go along with social services even when adoptions are planned 9:-Punishing parents and children by separating them even when no crimes have been committed.10:-Refusing entry to the court to grandparents,step-parents,and close relatives of the parents.11:-Children taken from parents for alleged “emotional abuse” 12:-Telling wives to split from their husbands(and vice versa) otherwise they will lose their children(when they intend to take the kids anyway).13:- One bruise,burn,or fracture and the child is gone.”one strike and you’re out!) Yet injuries in fostercare are ignored and police usually refuse to investigate let alone prosecute !
    A very fair” baker’sdozen” I reckon !

  2. This is more a request for information/clarification from a non-lawyer than a comment as such but I am really unclear about the ‘bar’ for Legal Aid being granted in Private Law in relation to ‘domestic violence’ and (I think) that being the only form of ‘abuse’ which qualifies (potentially) the adult for Legal Aid?

    1) How is ‘domestic violence’ classified for the purpose of Legal Aid assessments – I have vaguely heard that it has to include Police reports and even Refuge attendance – does that mean children have to go through that level of trauma for the adult to ‘qualify’ (by this I mean it may lead some parents to consider trying to get into a Refuge if there is space when otherwise they may have chosen a better option for child such as staying with friend or family)

    2) What about ‘abuse’ that still (clinical evidence would show) is damaging for child but is not primarily physical assault (emotional abuse, ‘volatile’ behaviours, threatening but not hitting, ‘controlling’ behaviour). Victims are told all these behaviours classify as DV but I have spoken to various Litigants in person who say reporting this kind of situation (even when witnessed by children with clear symptoms of distress by children) to the Police has resulted in no action and no Legal Aid.

    3) What is supposed to happen when Legal Aid is granted to child, but not parents. Again I have been approached on a few cases where there are clear risks likely to be related to mental health issues in one parent. In one case, despite quite horrific allegations (backed up with some independent evidence) an expert mental health opinion was not Ordered until the last minute and it appears that one parent (both LiP) is going to refuse to take any part in paying. Does this mean the other parent has to pay for themselves and other parent whilst Guardian can Instruct with LA for children? How is it supposed to work in cases where there is evidentially risk (even in the current climate it has to be accepted that there are some Private Law cases which potentially contain high levels of risk to the child) but the ‘risk’ does not tick the Legal Aid box?

    • Lisa,

      Domestic Violence for the purposes of public funding is rather more tightly defined than the government’s own definition of domestic abuse. See sch 1 LASPO (here) ““domestic violence” means any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (whether psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between individuals who are associated with each other” in that it does not include coercive control.

      More significantly, in order to obtain funding you must meet the evidence requirements (here), which (broadly) limit evidence to that not more than 2 years old. Some of the evidence is linked to proof of a “domestic violence offence” which is defined quite narrowly – to summarise its in line with a more old fashioned fisticuffs understanding of doemstic violence (see here).
      So with respect to your question 2 potentially those sorts of behaviour amount to domestic violence as per the definition, but are likely to be difficult to evidence with something from the list. They could potentially be evidenced by things like refuge stay or gp letter confirming for example reactive depression as a result – but only if a victim has fled to a refuge or consulted a gp. Many haven’t even done this let alone report to police. Obtaining a non-molestation is an obvious gateway for funding, but a victim who has been clear of a relationship for two years plus and who is subsequently the respondent to a contact application may well struggle to get funding even though the domestic violence is highly relevant.
      In response to 3, it will more likely now be the case that legal aid is granted to children not parents because where the parents are both in person and the case is “stuck” the court may need to make the child a party and appoint a guardian. In those circumstances the child automatically gets public funding. The problem is that it is in this kind of case where you are most likely to need expert evidence and these are also the sorts of cases where the parents are likely to be unwilling or unable to pay, and the Legal Aid Agency cannot be required to fund the entirety of the cost through the child’s certificate because the legal aid provisions operate on the basis that the public purse should not be required to pay where another party benefits (I’m summarising that). Each party : child and two parents, should pay a third. So the answer to 3 is that if the parent can’t / won’t pay the report will probably not be capable of commissioning, unless the other parent stumps up the balance of 2/3. There are undoubtedly cases involving risk where the court has to do its best without the report it ought to have because of problems with legal aid. It comes up more commonly in relation to hair strand testing in drug use cases, but also as you say mental health reports. There isn’t an answer. Cobb J asked that very question in his interim report regarding the Child Arrangements Programme. His final report has just been published and it doesn’t contain an answer to that question….

  3. One of the factors will be that most domestic violence allegations, certainly those made in the context of private law disputes, are either exaggerated or phony and thus no longer pass muster for getting free legal aid. Thank goodness for that.

    • No doubt you are right that some are phony or exaggerated, but it is difficult to evidence the proposition that most are phony or exaggerated unless you have figures for the number of allegations made against the number found proved.

      • 90% of domestic violence allegations made to police go nowhere. That’s because most of them are baloney.

        http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/10/domestic-violence-police-referrals-numbers

        As with police, so with DV allegations in family disputes. Helping fathers over contact disputes tells me that the overwhelming number of allegations, routinely made as you know, are phony, made to buy time and stretch out cases where time always runs against the applicant.

        • Different view point, different perspective Paul. As it happens the fact that 90% of allegations to police go nowhere is likely to be for a whole host of reasons, only one of which might be that the allegations are known by the complainants not to be true. What about all those allegations we see that were made during a relationship – not after it, not when there was something to be gained in proceedings – but at the time. Fabricated just in case they later separate??

  4. I agree with Lucy – and in any event, if a relationship has degenerated to the point of allegations (phony or otherwise) being made in Court arena you can bet that the children are being exposed to experiences/comments/dynamics from one or both parents that are potentially very damaging.
    I am not sure that removing Legal Aid from one or both parents and leaving them to slag each other off in and out of Court (and it is very hard when emotions are running high for children not to pick up on parents’ agitation and distress) with no access to independent advice (whether from a good balanced Family Lawyer or an expert in more severe ‘allegation’ cases) is the best way to achieve a good result for the children.

    • Fathers don’t slag mothers off in court. Who gave you that idea?

      The courts should restore unsupervised contact at the first hearing (in most cases) then tell the parties to go off and mediate. When a father is denied access to his child, that simple fact alone makes him angry. The principle objective of courts in private law cases ought to be the reunification of father with child. That issue is central to most private law disputes.

      Fathers in private law cases are very different to those in public law. Most are, well, just normal people, from decent families, unknown to authorities and in regular employment. You may be confusing the two.

      • Not all fathers slag off all mothers and vice versa. but it happens often. and if not in court out of it.

        There are occasions when demands for supervised or suspended contact are unwarranted or there is insufficient evidence to support such a move, but I don’t think it is necessarily right to say that in most cases courts should just ignore allegations and adopt a presumption of fabrication approach as you suggest. Nor does a denial of contact justify abusive behaviour, particularly abusive behaviour which has taken place before a denial of contact and which is causally linked to it. The principle objective of courts is and should remain the best interests of the child – which is closely interlinked with their need for a relationship with their dad and often – but not always – met by contact with them.

        I think it is dangerous to draw clear cut distinctions between “decent” or “normal” people involved in private law disputes and some abnormal or subhuman class of people you perceive to be involved in care proceedings. Firstly, although you may be decent and normal, many parents in private law disputes are poor, poorly educated, and with terrible abusive childhood experiences, attachment difficulties, mental health problems and drug or alcohol abuse issues of their own. There are often very good reasons why unsupervised contact is too risky in the short term. It isn’t all middle / upper class contact disputes about who takes Theresa to polo lessons on saturdays you know. And in fact there are a fair few middle class contact disputes with shocking levels of emotional abuse by both parents and quite commonly high functioning alcoholics. And likewise so called “normal” people (like you?) do get caught up in public law proceedings, perhaps because they are locked in a conflict which is causing their children significant harm, or because one parent is utterly unable to protect from the risk of domestic abuse. There is more crossover than you seem to imagine – put yourself in the shoes of trying to distinguish the “normal decent” ones from the “dangerous chavs”* Paul – it doesn’t seem so easy then to work out what’s an acceptable risk does it?

        *nothing wrong with a chav, just taking your argument to its logical conclusion….

        • No, you’re exaggerating and weaseling for effect. Who is trying to position public law parents as subhuman apart from yourself? And as for middle class parents, a goodly proportion of those may be your “high functioning alcoholic” but those parents don’t get stuck in a contact centre gulag, so why should a father who has simply made a private application to court for access to his child?

          I’ve posted this before and it’s true. Fathers in private law cases are mainly normal and reasonably well-adjusted people unlike public law cases where there is typically a cluster of obvious issues around child neglect, care and DV. These (private law) fathers just happen to have separated from their partners who have a gripe with them for some reason. Children receive collateral damage in these cases because courts take too long fiddling around, entertaining recalcitrant mothers and without getting proper contact going.

          Incidentally, and because you’re trying to tar me by insinuation, my public law case ended with a five figure payment in compensation from the council and I copped another, separate, five figure part 36 payment from the cops. I sought the relative sanctuary of a private law case to expose those fools and clowns for what they were. Don’t think I moan just for the sake of it. You ought to take on board what I say instead of weaseling your way around points I make. Fathers have been moaning about UK family law for a very long time and for well justified reasons. I can look after children just as well as you or anyone and they’d learn more into the bargain.

          • Paul,
            I’m sure there are many fathers in private law cases who are exactly as you describe, I’m simply observing that they are not all as you describe and the judge is the one who has to spot ‘em.
            I’m not trying to tar you by insinuation – I had no idea you had been involved in a public law case. You may be under the mistaken impression I know who you are in real life – I don’t. I was simply referring to the fact that people “like you” (like me for that matter) do end up in public law proceedings. You should not take everything as a criticism of you – in particular the fact that some fathers are not child centred, violent etc etc does not detract from the fact that most are not like that at all.
            The fact that I don’t agree with you and that I don’t accept that all or most cases fit the same template does not make me a weasel.

      • Re: Paul
        Apologies for the rather slangy language in respect of parents ‘slagging each other off’ in Court or out, but since it was me not Lucy who made that observation I should note that nowhere have I suggested that these processes are a one way street – fathers criticising mothers or mothers criticising fathers and I have clearly said in my comment ‘parents’ not ‘fathers’.

        The point I was making was that when emotions are running high, as they inevitably are when a relationship separates and children are involved, it is extremely difficult for any parent (and again I am not drawing distinctions based on class, profession or lack of, money or anything else) to think straight and resolve huge and emotionally laden issues with the other parent. When Court is also involved that undoubtedly adds to the pressure because many parents will not ever have gone to Court before or be familiar with what is essentially an alien system.

        My point was simply that removing legal aid, and so removing the choice from parents who may want good legal assistance, a good barrister to help them through the Court appearance bit (I know barristers do more than that but it is a field of expertise) or a good expert assessment to work out how best to manage unusually difficult or complicated areas of dispute (for instance how to manage contact when the child has Autistic Spectrum Disorder and struggles more than average with change), does not seem to be the most obvious way to achieve good results for the children in the middle.

        And in respect of taking away legal aid to get rid of phony allegations, surely making DV the bar to jump is going to increase that risk not decrease it, if the other parent is minded to make phony allegations in the first place?

        I would not for a second deny that some parents do make allegations they can’t evidence either maliciously or because their experience of the relationship was, for them, abusive in some form (even if objectively others may not see that). But not all parents do this, and setting the bar too high on Legal Aid and trying to demand evidence of ‘proper abuse’ before it is granted, risks parents in genuine need not getting the help they need to help their child.

        It may also be worth noting that I have worked with a number of fathers who I have no doubt have been victims of domestic violence – not one of them would have followed the procedure which would have allowed them access to Legal Aid, as they would have been far too ashamed and stigmatised.

        • I think parties should be legally represented in court. Of course I do. The problem is that one party, the mother, gets the legal aid and the other, who might just be an innocent father falsely accused, gets nothing. Don’t tell me that that is right.

          On balance I say no legal aid for either is fairer. And, more philosophically, I don’t think the general public should finance the private disputes of warring couples.

          If a father comes to court armed with counsel then I would certainly give legal aid to a mother, even if it’s only five hundred quid for someone to work out and tell her that her case in denying dad contact, is useless.

  5. Actually I told you a fib there, inadvertently of course. The cops paid me a four figure sum, but it was enough and fully justified bearing in mind the unnecessary trouble they caused me, my child, everyone really. They have no idea that in a separated family situation, it is often the father who ends up the more vulnerable person. Mothers, by and large, are a well looked after lot.

    Of course I was involved in a public law case. That’s how I learned a thing or two about forensic experts.

    In public law, mothers are labelled as “abusive” and get their children taken away on grounds of predicted “future emotional abuse”. Ask Ian Josephs, he knows. In private law cases by contrast, mothers are lauded as near heroic. The characteristics of these cases are typically very dissimilar.

    To digress, any separated father who gets summarily arrested ought to challenge the legality of his arrest. Just smile at them and say I’ll stroll in tomorrow with my solicitor. If they turn you down then sue them later so they learn the law properly. If arrested anyway, demand a written explanation from police as to why arrest, rather than voluntary interview, was necessary. 90% of the time, they cannot justify summary arrest. A vast number of these arrests carried out by police, many for truly weak DV accusations, are unlawful and I didn’t say that first. A professor of law did in a letter to The Times last year.

  6. JFF/ PAIN advisor

    I agree with FORCED ADOPTION. Even cases where LA have withdrawn, they still gag parents from speaking out. Solicitors, Sol Advocates, Barristers need to make a choice on who they represent. They cannot work for LA one day and parents the next. Pauffley was right, Munby has started transparency and seeks a long way to go. JFF and PAIN get contacted daily by parents which shows John Hemming has it right. Any solicitors who want to assist with our queries, contact me.

    • JFF / PAIN,
      To be accurate it is Parliament who gags parents – through statute. The courts may lift the “gag” when appropriate and sometimes do. This may be in the face of opposition from the LA. Almost always the child remains anonymous, but nowadays many judgments will be published.
      The proposition that we should choose who we represent is superficially attractive except that one corollary of the cab rank rule is that we don’t refuse cases we think are inherently weak or likely to fail. We take on clients we think are flaky, dishonest, smelly. We do our best whatever the case, whoever the client – and sometimes by following and challenging the evidence we show that in spite of first impressions our client has been vindicated, or we achieve an outcome that noone could have anticipated. Many many parents benefit from the cab rank rule.
      There is another reason too. I am a better parent lawyer because I know how Local Authorities, work, think and because I understand their perspective. I am a better LA lawyer because I know how parents and their lawyers work. Being able to answer the question “What would I do if I were on the other side?” is a real asset. We can and do work for LA one day and parents the next. Sometimes we don’t much like our clients (that includes both social workers and parents or guardians), but we do a good job anyway. Sometimes that means advising a LA that they should concede to an application by the parents, sometimes it means advising a parent that their application is hopeless, other times it means pursuing it to the bitter end, maybe succeeding maybe not.
      Social workers are often criticised for having made their minds up before a case has even begun – sometimes rightly. That criticism is not one that parents can level at legal representatives who adopt an objective and non-judgmental approach through appropriate professional distance and even handed acceptance of instructions. The same cannot be said of mckenzie friends, lay advisors or busybodies who purport to give legal or strategic advice to parents without legal expertise or qualification and who begin from the starting point of having made up their mind about the system.

      • JFF/ PAIN advisor

        My case was withdrawn as they were proven wrong despite causing hell for my family on and off for years. They are now seeking an Injunction from me naming the LA and individuals. Why? If they get it, I will appeal and John Hemming would name them in Parliament anyway. They want to protect their name for accusing a parent wrongly? Well, I want to clear my name from the stigma they caused. Watch this space.

  7. Hmm a blanket condemnation of lay advisors and busybodies familoo .Maybe because those folk actually help parents (for the most part non criminal) to fight to get their children back from the hell of State Care whilst the highly qualified legal aid lawyers achieve cosy deals with the local authority barristers so that the kids are inevitably retained in care or given away for forced adoption like pedigree puppies!
    “We shall neither agree nor oppose an interim care order” .”No need for you to speak as we shall speak for you;” “Go along with social services and everything will be alright ”
    How often do we hear these weasel words from legal aid lawyers intent on gagging parents and persuading parents to give in without a fight? Too ,too, often I reckon!!

    • No, a criticism of lay advisors and busybodies with fixed agendas and closed minds. Since I spent most of January successfully fighting for my client to keep her baby in one case I can absolutely refute your blanket suggestion about legal aid lawyers and cosy deals.

      Fighting for fighting’s sake is a short sighted strategy. Save the fight for when it can be won rather than make matters worse.

      You often suggest that parents are gagged by their lawyers. I have seen no evidence of this and my experience is rather that they are sometimes advised that a fight will serve no purpose or will actively harm their longer term prospects. Sometimes they accept that advice, sometimes not. Of course these situations are pressurised and parents may feel in reality as if they have little choice, but you make quite sweeping assertions about what amounts to misconduct and failing to fearlessly defend the best interests of the client. Fearlessly defending the best interests of the client is more nuanced than blindly following the first instructions one receives without advising and then taking updating instructions – sometimes involves keeping ones powder dry and saving the fight for a better strategic moment. Discretion is the better part of valour sometimes.

  8. I receive more than 1000 new calls for help every year from distraught parents.
    The majority of these were advised to neither opoose nor agree the interim care order,very few were allowed to speak in court by their barristers and many of them were advised to wait outside the courtroom to avoid distress !
    Not surprising that the points they wanted to make were ignored and the outcome was loss of children to “care”.
    On the whole parents who represent themselves do better especially if encouraged to bring up all the point sthey can think of in their favour.After all you do not need to be a lawyer to demonstrate that you are a good mum or dad ! Unfortunate that “experts” called to discredit parents are given reports by naturally biased social workers to read and loaded questions to answer before they see the parent ( sometimes they do not bother to see the parent at all before giving a diagnosis of personality disorder) No second opinions allowed as new experts chosen by a parent would not have first read the social workers reports ! Common sense says experts should reach a conclusion without asking the opinion of third parties at all but common sense never did enter the equation in the family courts !!

    • Sadly Ian, These situations are very difficult for parents and often their perception or recollection of what was said is not entirely reliable. I don’t mean by that that everything parents say should be discounted, merely that for understandable human reasons we have to consider what the sort of parents who call you tend to tell you with a healthy amount of care. There are layers of emotion, interpretation, filtering and recounting between what is said between lawyer and client and what you are telling me. They interpret. You interpret. We all hear what we want to hear, particularly when heavily emotionally invested.
      I have many years of experience in family courts and what you describe doesn’t match with that at all – at least it doesn’t match with what I regularly and usually see, although I don’t doubt that the sort of thing you describe probably does happen on occasion (and of course that is too often however infrequent it is).
      The trouble with your proposition that it is unsurprising that the outcome is care is that the sort of people who come to you are likely to be the sort of people who have had and rejected negative advice, and they are likely to be the sort of cases where the prospects are pretty poor. Of course the outcome in most of your cases will be care. You don’t see a representative sample. We see the ones that fight – you don’t. Why would you? I suspect parents often turn to you because they don’t want to hear what their lawyer has told them.
      I disagree profoundly that parents without lawyers do better in care proceedings.

    • RE: Experts
      I am interested to hear why, forced adoption you consistently, in the posts I have read, seem to suggest that ‘experts’ (always in inverted commas) are ‘in cahoots’ with Local Authorities and in effect copying social workers reports/unable to form an opinion which is different from that of a social worker.

      As a clinical psychologist, I chose my profession (and it is not an easy one to get into) precisely because I wanted to be able to work with people who needed help to get their voice heard or find their voice in the first place – often after suffering abuse and trauma which had not been recognised or treated.

      I started working as an expert witness because I strongly believed, and still believe, in the value of independence. I also believe that parents deserve every opportunity to put forward their account of events and that often, a psychological perspective can shine a light on why parents are ‘not co-operating’, based on negative experiences in their own lives that have left them feelings anxious, powerless, defensive etc. In my experience, this viewpoint can counter a Local Authority argument that parents ‘cannot work openly and honestly’ and lead to parents getting the right help which means they can have their child returned.

      There is no way on earth that I would ‘copy’ a social workers report, or mindlessly agree with the social worker just because I spoke to them – I didn’t train for 7 years and gain 20 years specialised clinical experience in order to be a paid ‘mouthpiece’ for anybody – either Local Authorities or Parents and the very best way to get a properly independent view in Public Law or Private Law, is to demand that every expert has a significant amount of clinical experience and that their assessment plan is open to scrutiny by everyone, extremely thorough and rigorous so that all the points that all the Parties make (and especially parents who do not have the power and resources of a large organisation behind them) can be put before the Court and taken up ‘fearlessly’ as Lucy puts it by a good barrister. I have turned in reports that are comprehensive in this way which have completely disagreed with the LA perspective and parents have succeeded, but equally, I have done the same thorough analysis in other situations and largely agreed with the LA perspective – this is what being independent means to me. Of course Legal Aid changes and ‘experts’ rarely being instructed now means that the chances of getting this kind of comprehensive assessment are virtually non-existent.

      All of that said, I do agree perhaps more than Lucy, with forced adoption about the dangers of parents ‘agreeing’ or being advised to agree with Section 20 accommodation or even ICO in the current climate in order, perhaps to give a message to the Court that they are being ‘co-operative’.

      These parents may have all manner of issues that are impacting on their situation or they may be in crisis but will their situation get properly analysed and the proper help and interventions tried once the child is in Section 20 accommodation or even under an ICO? In my experience, since the Family Justice Review and cuts to LA budgets there is a massive risk that parents will either agree to removal of the child for a period or have an ICO but this is frequently not followed by any intensive assessment and intervention to help that family change (either because services are not there or parents are not given the help they need to access them) and so the ‘case’ hangs about for a while in Pre-Proceedings and then goes into Proceedings where lack of change by parents is cited as ‘evidence’ for Care Order, or the 26 week time limit leads to assessments not being even offered because their isn’t ‘time’ and any therapy is equally not offered because it can’t be ‘finished’ with a guarantee of ‘success’ in 26 weeks.

      Families are frequently going through Pre-proceedings and proceedings with no access to ‘expert’ psychological or psychiatric advice for them or their children which might ‘go against’ them but, might more often identify specific help that they could access that should be tried (to be B-S compliant) as part of any Care Proceedings.

      Forced adoption – why not campaign for the very best assessments and intervention services (not just what LA has on tap as this can be woefully inadequate) and a guarantee that they have to be tried before families can be safely regarded as not able to care for their child in the long term? By helping families access the very best evidence (intensive assessments and interventions designed to prove motivation and capacity to change) and representation (and so go for the fearless and tireless lawyers and extremely thorough experts) then at least this gets a chance to be heard by the Judge and Appealed by a good lawyer. By regarding ‘experts’, lawyers, barristers and social workers as all working together in one huge collusion ‘against’ parents – you don’t seem to leave yourself anywhere to go and it is not an argument that would be likely to hold much weight for any Judge who has to objectively balance all the evidence presented from all the Parties

      • A agree Lisa W
        The last final hearing I did resulted in the children remaining at home with their mum largely as a result of the evidence of the Local Authority’s own solely instructed psychological expert!! The Local Authority had sought placement orders. Doesn’t fit with your hired gun theory very well does it, Forced Adoption?

  9. Lord Justice Thorpe said “There is nothing more serious than a removal hearing, because the parents are so prejudiced in proceedings thereafter.”

    2: Lord Justice Wall (the former Senior family court judge) said that the determination of some social workers to place children in an “unsatisfactory care system” away from their families was “quite shocking”.

    3: In a separate case on which Sir Nicholas Wall also sat, Lord Justice Aikens described the actions of social workers in Devon as “more like Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China than the West.

    Judicial Statistics show that only one in 400 care applications are refused in the family courts;(.04%!)

    What chance do parents have even when the vast majority are punished without having committed any crime? Yes parents are biased when they complain to me about their treatment in the courts,but simple facts such as lawyers insisting “we don’t oppose the interim care order but don’t agree with it either”and”we were not allowed to speak” occur far too often to be falsified;
    Punishment without crime is itself a crime and that is where most of the injustices originate.

    • As you know Ian those are comments made in the context of a particular case which had gone very wrong, and should not be applied to the system as a whole.

  10. Familoo ,clearly Thorpe l.J was speaking generally and not just referring to one case.That is self evident.Also usually see the position statements of L.As and find that even if every word in them is true they can in my opinion rarely justify forced adoption or permanent fostercare.
    LISA:- Professor Ireland proved the “hired gun” theory when in a carefully researched report she made for the government, she exposed experts without qualifications and others who worked for the courts ,never had private patients and sometimes diagnosed personality disorders without even seeing the patient !
    There is no conspiracy needed ,just a lot of people making their living taking children into care from parents who more often than not have committed no crimes but are nevertheless punished for risks that may never happen!

    • I think that the Ireland report identified a number of legitimate areas of concern about some experts and some practices. It is not a justification for advising parents to disengage with the process of assessment or to assume that any expert will be in the pocket of the LA / incompetent.

    • Re: Professor Ireland’s Study
      Professor Ireland, as far as I am aware, was partially commissioned to undertake her research by Family Justice Council. The FJC ultimately refused to publish the research because it had not been peer reviewed and, to my knowledge, the research has still not been published, despite it being ‘released’ to the media and despite it being the only piece of research that those who are arguing against experts ever quote.

      I fully agree that ‘experts’ who are not properly qualified, who ‘diagnose’ on paper etc are completely inexcusable and should not be employed. Not everyone fits in that category though.

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