You know that thing when the Daleks get a bit hot under the carapace and spin around in confused fashion before grinding to a smokey halt, toilet plunger wilting at a jaunty angle? That. That is the feel of those of us struggling to absorb the vast amounts of new guidance, update and direction.
Oh for a sonic screwdriver. Or an alcoholic one. My inbox has steam coming out of its ears.
So. What do we have?
“A View From The Presidents’ Chambers” Part Deux, in which our hero Munby observes that said view is not so much of a distant horizon but a very proximate wall. Or – to depart from my foolish analogies and feeble sarcasm to give you some actual information – in which he tells us all about the revised PLO (or to be accurate the still-being-revised-PLO, since it’s not yet finished). Headlines : the first CMH will take place on day 12. Thresholds will be shorter (e.g. “the parents are flaky”). And (as if this were an idea no-one thunk of before) it will henceforth be the expectation that Local Authority documents will be replete with analysis and assessment will be evidence based. *paddington stare*. There will be new arrangements for disclosure of certain documents by list and on request, whilst others must be provided as a matter of course. So we are to expect Local Authorities to present their cases in shipshape fashion. I wouldn’t argue with that.
In truth, much of this sounds very sensible (although it’s difficult to get a grip on it without seeing the actual guidance), but it remains to be seen how effective it will be if one limb of the family justice system does not keep up its end of the deal. And Munby makes no bones – it’s 26 weeks or else*.
A new PD on Committals in the Court of Protection and Family Division – in essence, hearings may be in private only exceptionally, and where such a course is taken a public judgment must be given setting out the reasons for taking that course, and where a person is committed for contempt of court the court must state publicly the findings made and the punishment given. There is I suspect, some back story to this which I have not had time to pick up on. I don’t know if it relates to this or this or this (although that case appears now to be in the criminal arena).
Following on from the LASPO detonation day on 1 April the Law Society have issued guidance for family solicitors who are now mopping up with assorted unbundled services to clients. The Bar Standards Board have issued new Public Access Guidance in light of the changes announced recently to end the 3 year call rule and the prohibition on taking on clients who might qualify for legal aid, and no doubt in anticipation of a significant post-LASPO increase in the use of public access cases. Incidentally, I’ve written an article in the Solicitors Journal about LiPs post LASPO which touches on issues relating to public access (you need to login to read it in full, but you can get a free 2 week trial).
“Finally, this case demonstrates again the crucial role played by the specialist family bar and solicitors. The role played by all of the representatives for all of the parties in this case has been of the utmost importance. All judges are very concerned at the prospect of an increase in self-represented litigants and the consequences for the family justice system. Not enough recognition is given to the contribution to the family justice system made by family lawyers.”
Also – see Suesspiciousminds blog on the recent JR judgment wherein the Legal Aid Agency (LSC if you’re old skool) got a slap in the face with a wet fish for arguing they didn’t need to give reasons for refusing prior authority.
I won’t bore you with the assorted local guidance and initiatives – which helpfully fill those tiny interstices between sleep and work just nicely. If we stop we might contemplate, so best keep busy.
Frankly, after all that, I find I have insufficient energy to return to my dalek analogy to wrap up…Save to offer you a quote from Davros himself : “The Children of Time are moving against us, but everything is falling into place” which sounds as if it ought to hold some profound meaning in this context even if I don’t quite know what that might be…pretty much how I feel about each piece of new guidance as it lands… (as you can see the daleks are an analogy brimming with potential, but I’m too knackered to care).
Tell me when I can come out from behind the sofa.
* for “else” read “tribunal”