Wells Street under threat

Just as news arrives of a new FDAC (that’s Family Drug and Alcohol Court to the uninitiated) in Gloucester so we hear less welcome news of the planned closure of Wells Street. The Inner London FPC at Wells Street does not hold many fond memories for me – it was where I first found my feet (or lost them) as a baby-junior care practitioner and my abiding memory is of the dark waiting area on the ground floor. But since I left it has been home to the inspirational FDAC headed by DJ Crichton CBE (CBE as of last week I think – well done him!). And those who remain in London are not very pleased about the plans to move operations over to the Principal Veg on High Holborn. Over 250 concerned professionals signed up to a letter which has been sent to the relevant judiciary including Sir Nicholas Wall, Ryder J, and Senior DJ at the Registry, Philip Waller (I suspect it is not the judges but managers and accountants that need persuading that this is an ill advised plan).

You can read about the letter and the concerns on the Law Gazette website or you can read the full letter below.

[NB Minor corrections made above @ 10pm 25/06/12: OBE should have read CBE, letter went to Philip Waller not DJ Crichton]

David Jockelson
c/o Miles and Partners
88-90 Middlesex Street
London E1 7EZ
DX: 124407 CDE
dj@milesandpartners.com 

15 June 2012

Sir Nicholas Wall
Mrs Justice Pauffley
Mr Justice Ryder
HHJ Altman
Senior District Judge Waller 

Via your DX addresses

Dear Judges

We are writing to you because of the news that Wells St is to close and the Inner and City London Family Proceedings Court (Inner London) is to be absorbed into the PRFD.

We are a group of child care solicitors both in private practice and in Local Authorities as well as Guardians and counsel who work in this court. We are anxious to see how the identity and special qualities of Inner London can be preserved following the transfer; and even to hope that the Registry would be prepared to adopt some of Inner London’s many qualities.

Most people appreciate the enormous strains on the MoJ and court service to save money and that the premises in Wells St must be expensive.

That needs to be put into the balance with the fact that Inner London has rightly been hailed by many people, including international observers, as a centre of excellence. It is a great worry that its strengths and qualities could be lost if Inner London is simply absorbed into the Registry.

The Registry itself has great strength in the experience of the judges and the ability to deal with the longer and more forensically challenging cases. The staff – associates, ushers and counter staff – are helpful and sympathetic although clearly working under great pressure.

However there are qualities of Inner London that people are very keen are preserved following any move and these are some of the comments we received.

Please forgive the detail but we fear some of those who decide these matters will not be aware of the real practical facts that may seem trivial but we, as practitioners, know make a real difference to the quality of justice. To follow a client through the process:

  • At Wells Street clients arrive and security staff screen them and check their details. They refer them politely to the correct court – and refer them to the office or the duty solicitor if appropriate. The duty solicitor system has been functioning for years to the great benefit of clients and the court and at no cost – because the ethos of Inner London encourages volunteers.
  • The waiting rooms are pleasant and – a very small detail some may think – have magazines on the tables.
  • There is a pleasant well equipped children’s play room. This compares with the many rather bleak and empty ones at the Registry which do not reflect a child centred approach.
  • Ushers are polite and helpful. The legal advisers come out and interact with us and can often get cases progressed or even sorted out smoothly. Litigants in person, an ever- growing issue for the court, are properly assisted. The office staff, under enormous pressure, remain polite and helpful.
  • The magistrates and judges are respectful: receptive, polite and showing a real interest in the cases.
  • In court the clients sit next to their advocates so they can be helped to understand and feel a part of the proceedings. This enormously aids their comprehension and therefore the legitimacy of the process. That legitimacy is surely central to the purpose of the court?
  • One highly significant and symbolic matter is FDAC: this is an example of a humane, proactive, creative approach which gives parents a real chance but also puts strong, robust pressure on them so if they fail, they fail quickly – which is in the interests of the children. It has won awards and applause.

Surely it fits perfectly with the modernisation ethos of powerful case management and swift progression?

Modernisation without resources and without this ethos could produce a mechanistic, crude process which reduces the chances for children of remaining with their parents or wider family in a rush to adoption – in parenting terms a cold, hard, authoritarian model.

Modernisation with the right ethos would in parenting terms be an example of that combination of warmth and firmness that is properly called authoritative.

DJ Crichton was the initiator of FDAC and we have heard it said that it relies largely on his personal qualities. However that argument is belied by the fact it worked perfectly well during the six months he was away when he was ill. .

That leaves aside the immediate questions everyone asks: how can seven courts, with waiting rooms, interview rooms, FDAC rooms, magistrates’ rooms and library be accommodated at the Registry?

Many people feel it is vital that FDAC and the qualities of Inner London survive and flourish at the Registry and we would hope to work with you to ensure this.   We look forward to hearing from you with your response to this letter and proposals for such work.

Yours faithfully

Solicitors

David Jockelson Miles and Partners
Kate Hammond Miles and partners
Sarah Cove Miles and Partners
Amanda Dench Miles and Partners
Pauline Lloyd Ewings & Co
Peggy Ray Goodman Ray
Gwen Williams Goodman Ray
Hilka Hollmann Goodman Ray
Joanna Bosanquet  Goodman Ray
Michael Bourdages Goodman Ray
Christina Blacklaws  TV Edwards
David Emmerson T V Edwards
Lorraine Green TV Edwards
Susan Fitzgerald TV Edwards
Valerie Greenfield  Fisher Meredith LLP
Elisabeth Harris Freelance Solicitor Advocate
Nina Hansen Freemans solicitors
Liz Dronfield Bindmans
Sheila Donn Philcox Gray & Co
Judy Bishton Fisher Meredith LLP
Viviane Thatcher Children & Families Law Firm
Libby Bower Children & Families Law Firm
Susan Eskinazi Eskinazi & Co
Helen Shaw Eskinazi & Co
Jerry Bull  Atkins Hope
Heather Vassie TV Edwards
Rokeya Dangor TV Edwards
Maria James  Miles and Partners
Dee Aktar Miles and Partners
Ritu Sood Miles and Partners
Stephen Talbot Miles and Partners
Michelle Uppal Miles and Partners
Sarah Lumsden  Lawrence & Co
Nilouka Peiris Lawrence & Co
Jeni Styring  Ewings & Co
Lona Haddadi FMW
Richard Hansom Nicholls Christie & Crocker
VyVy Lewis   Edwards Duthie
Lorna Cservenka Hanne & Co
Jackie Pearce Hanne & Co
Caroline Little Hanne & Co
Claire Holland Lawrence Davies & Co
Elen Davies  Lawrence Davies & Co
Olawumi Olanrewaju Lawrence Davies & Co
Kate Tindale    Lawrence Davies & Co
Sarah Bold   Hopkin Murray Beskine
Elizabeth Beckett Ezkinazi & Co
Angela Campbell  Campbell Chambers
David Barnes Vickers
Beth Prince  TV Edwards
Lawrence Lederman  Lawrence & Co
Stephanie Marshal  Burke Niazi
Ros Dunning  Dunning & Co
Susan Jackson Dunning & Co
Denise Hoilette Venters Solicitors
Rob Watson  KKLaw Solicitors
Barbara Hopkin  Hopkin Murray Beskine
Philip Eldin-Taylor Frank Brazell & Co.
Keith Tallon Cook Taylor
Caroline Landes   McMillan Williams
Helen MacDonald Aitken Associates
Martin Wray Aitken Associates
Kelly Wild   Aitken Associates
Peter Harris Harris Temperley
Caron Theobalds Harris Temperley
Stewart Hughan Harris Temperley
Nina Shaw  Harris Temperley
Philip Wilkins  Hudgell & Partners
Elizabeth Bendall Sternberg Reed
Gordon Reed Sternberg Reed
Darren Ward Sternberg Reed
Jenny Morrison Morrison Spowart
Karen Forrester Mackesys
Caroline Flaherty Mackesys
Pat Monro
Boyd Carter Boyd Carter solicitors
Joan Vis Tyrer Roxburgh
Joyce Hitchman Hitchman & Co
Anthony Morris  Anthony Morris &Co
Jackie Pearce Hanne & Co
Janice Kaufman Steele and Shamash
Paul Ewings Ewings & Co
Barbara Hecht CLP
Denise Lester Moss Beachley Mullem & Coleman
Ann Thompson  Goodman Ray
Kate Claxton MK Law
Myria Pieri Myria Pieri & Co
John O’Callaghan Ronald Fletcher Baker
Kim Speller Frank Brazell & Co
Paulena Panayioutou Hanne & Co
Samantha Cook Hanne & Co
Michael Brierley Hanne & Co
Sue Pryse-Davies Amphlett Lissimore
Jenette Carey Fisher Meredith
Maria Jones Maria Jones
Rosemary Parratt  Mackesys
Petrina Roberts Fisher Meredith
Sarah Fleminger Harters
Patricia MacAvock Harter
Vinod Sharma BKS Solicitors
Andrea Dawkins  Venters
Dawn Staple Hodge Jones & Allen
Sara Upton Hodge Jones & Allen
Douglas Taylor Creighton & Partners
Lucy Verity Hornby and Levy
Bridget Thompson Osbornes
Maria Kitsiou Osbornes
Simone McGrath Osbornes
Anest Mathias Osbornes
Tofiq Aslam Hodge Jones & Allen
Julian Hayes Hayes Law
Claire Thorpe Creighton & Partners
Louise Creighton Creighton & Partners
Tracy Chester Creighton & Partners
Tony McGovern Creighton & Partners
Deborah Marsden Creighton & Partners
Jonquil Houghton Creighton & Partners
Sarah Hindle Creighton & Partners
Katrin White Creighton & Partners
Kathryn Cooper Creighton & Partners
Jane Quantrill Creighton & Partners
Dawn Wilson Creighton & Partners
Mary Ann Harris Steele and Shamash
Anna Ponting Steele and Shamash
Geeta Manglani Steele and Shamash
Angela Gaff Covent Garden Family Law
Alison Burt Covent Garden Family Law
Bindar Dosanjh Fort & Co
Michelle Flynn Wilson
Mary Ann Edwards TV Edwards
Melanie Crank TV Edwards
Lynn Vernon TV Edwards
Neil Perôt McMillan Williams
Stella Sweetman MK Law
Emily Iles Venters
Stephanie Marshall Burke Niazi
David Marcus Burke Niazi
Kathy Walker Atkins Hope
Mark Smeed Atkins Hope
Sarah Newens Atkins Hope
Maurice Guyer Vickers
Julia Cooper Cooper & Co
Celia Thurman Goodman Ray
Peter Coutts Islington Council
Androulla Hadjisimou Islington Council
Ann May Islington Council
Bhavina Vara Islington Council
Emma Glover LB of Newham
Farducy Yeahia LB of Newham
Ruma Saha Wandsworth Council
Jay Shah LB of Waltham Forest
Chris Aniche  LB of Waltham Forest
Sahdiah Ikram LB of Waltham Forest
Donna Ferguson LB of Waltham Forest
Angela Nolan Islington Council
Graham Keating LB Redbridge
Sarwat Ashraf LB Redbridge
Courtney Plank LB of Wandsworth
Nneka Oroge  LB Tower Hamlets
Counsel 

 

Jo Delahunty QC 4 Paper Buildings
Teertha Gupta QC 4 Paper Buildings
Rex Howling QC 4 Paper Building
Cleo Perry  4 Paper Buildings
Dorothea Gartland 4 Paper Buildings
Jane Rayson  4 Paper Buildings
Barbara Mills  4 Paper Buildings
Sally Bradley  4 Paper Buildings
Cyrus Larizadeh 4 Paper Buildings
David Bedingfield 4 Paper Buildings
Ceri White 4 Paper Buildings
Catherine Wood 4 Paper Buildings
Rebecca Foulkes 4 Paper Buildings
Ruth Kirby 4 Paper Buildings
Matthew Persson 4 Paper Buildings
Martha Cover   Coram Chambers
Catherine Nicoles Coram Chambers
Susan Gore Coram Chambers
Meena Gill Coram Chambers
Tracy Chapman Coram Chambers
Sarah Branson, Coram Chambers
Sharon Sawyerr Coram Chambers
Bronwen Jones Tooks Court
Elizabeth Woodcraft Tooks Court
Rebekah Wilson Tooks Court
Christopher Poole New Court Chambers
Dinali Nanayakkara New Court Chambers
Ranjit Singh New Court Chambers
Stephanie Hine New Court Chambers
Pauline Troy 42 Bedford Row
David Bannocks 4 Brick Court
Tali Michaels New Court Chambers
Henry Drayton Garden Court Chambers
Rachael Rowley-Fox Garden Court Chbrs
Paul Murray Garden Court Chambers
Liz Veats  Garden Court Chambers
Judith Trustman  Garden Court Chambers
Angela Bennett 3 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings
Malcolm Macdonald 36 Bedford Row.
Geraldine More O’Ferrall Renaissance
Gill Honeyman  Coram Chambers
Fiona Edington Thomas Moore Chambers
Malek Wan Daud Garden Court Chambers
Amina Ahmed  Renaissance Chambers
Neil Bullock Coram Chambers
Chris McWatters Garden Court chambers
Ravinder Rahal Garden Court Chambers
Smita Shah Garden Court Chambers
Ed Elliott Garden Court Chambers
Celia Graves Garden Court Chambers
Julia Gasparro Renaissance Chambers
Jenny Boswell Tooks Court
Matthew Fletcher Renaissance Chambers
Mark Calway Renaissance Chambers
Paul Cregan Renaissance Chambers
William Metaxa Renaissance Chambers
Shiva Ancliffe Renaissance Chambers
Chris McWatters Garden court chambers
Mark Twomey Coram Chambers
Rona Neathey 6 Kings Bench Walk

 

Guardians present or past, social workers.

 

Susan Bindman
Eva Gregory
Christine Holleran
Beverley Clarke
Jaswin Kaur
Alison Paddle
Kathy Butcher
Shannon Smart
Lara Bloom
Sheila Pankhania-Collins
Elizabeth Heap
Diane Jackson
Raya Tibawi
Kathy Pring
Michael Griffith-Jones
Gill King
Patricia Morrison
Magdalen Fry
Janet Walker
Jane Powell
Jo Murphy
Titibele Ncube
Gill Timmis
Jane Dambe
Pat McLoughlin
Julia Hughes
Aminah Husain
Colette Curran
Anne MacKenzie
Nicci Murphy
Paul Levy
Rose Dagoo
Gerith Eden
Joanna Smiths
Lilian Odze
Khalil Campbell
David Abrahams
 

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