Friday Night Blues

It’s Friday night on the day before an all day stint in chambers. There is an excruciatingly bad generic vampire series on the telly box and I’ve had one too many glasses of red in an attempt to self-medicate myself through the biennial “serious talk about money” with the ball and chain.

I sense that progress on editing the second edition of the book at this hour would most likely be minimal, so I thought I’d drop by and show my face, lest you think I have abandoned you…

I don’t ACTUALLY have anything structured, relevant or useful to say. But I’ll say it anyway.

Perhaps I should review the operation of the first (almost) two weeks of operation of the Family Court?

Or review my own personal week?

Or make excuses for recent and anticipated non-blogging…

Or consider vaguely legal related news?

Or all of the above? Oh, goWAANN…

As for the Family Court : first up is a thought : Now it IS single it seems like overkill to SAY it’s single – it was single when being described in contrast to the (then) existing multitude. Thus, at the very moment it becomes “Single” the epithet becomes redundant. (Let’s ignore the minor fact that it is now one of TWO family courts, as opposed to one of THREE).

As for the seamless transition? Sorry, I missed that, being distracted as I was by chaos, turbulence and a distinct lack of CAP forms. It’s two weeks in and there are still no officially published forms for private law orders. I don’t understand why we can’t have clarity on which of the following applies :

A. HMCTS / the judiciary aren’t issueing the forms because the court will draft orders THEMSELVES *gasp*


B. HMCTS / the judiciary DO expect us to draft the forms, in which case perhaps they could make them officially available and *cough* ask us if we mind terribly much?

I have spent a lot of this week providing copies of the forms to people who have been asked to draft orders but who don’t have the template and who are at courts where the Judge cannot provide it to them.

I have also had my own experience of drafting a really very straightforward set of directions on an interim hearing. It consisted of about 3 paragraphs of substance and in a trad style order would have been half a page. It took me 30 minutes in the advocates room to draft and  50% of that time was spent deleting notes and irrelevant text and marking headings “N/A”. I wonder exactly WHY it is necessary for the address of CAFCASS to be set out in every order?

Yes, the CAP forms have everything but the kitchen sink in them. But if I was being snarky (which I never am) I might ponder whether there was a letter missing from their title.

My question really is who is SUPPOSED to complete these?

  • If it is the court then they will need the same 30 minutes it took me to draft after each hearing. That will be a nightmare for court lists. I don’t think it is workable.
  • If it is the advocates (if the court is lucky enough to have one) they will want to draft at court and come back into court for approval before the end of the hearing because this is the only mechanism by which a publicly funded advocate can be paid for additional work of the court’s own making.

This is not a new problem. It is one that began to emerge with the CMO. They take forever. And the unpaid time that is spent up and down the country is invariably at the expense of solicitors or (more often) the bar. It isn’t quite such a pressing problem in public law work where rates of pay are marginally better, but in private law cases where rates are worse, uplifts unavailable and where risks and pressure are high as a result of the likelihood of a LiP opposing – spending an extra half hour adapting a six page template which is 50% irrelevant is not an attractive prospect or a good use of resources. When I say resource I mean the resource of the court, the time of the lawyer AND the resource that is the goodwill of the legal profession. I am genuinely worried about this. It is creating more administrative burden in precisely the kind of cases that need to be streamlined. I’m not sure this is what was intended.

Oh dear. I’ve gone off one one…

Let’s cut to my second point. Which is that it’s been a funny old week, filled with lots of protestations to the clerks to leave room in my diary to “finish the bl**dy book!!” (not to mention a seminar presentation). It is truly amazing how much has changed in family law since the first edition in 2011. Since the first edition everything from terminology to substantive law, and from procedure to ethos has changed. One thing that hasn’t changed : the need for legal advice and representation. Yes, I’ve been reading up on legislative reform and rule changes, furiously editing, and learning the ropes on You Tube ready for our video launch next week. I say “furiously”, but in truth not so furiously that I managed to avoid a Saturday in chambers. I have, I confess, spent a considerable portion of the week distracting other hard working members of chambers with my unasked for opinions, legal related news and trivia.

Which takes me nicely to item three : legal related news. By golly there’s a lot of it about this week. Judges given custodial sentences, the Operation (Dot) Cotton trial is stayed, and Clooney is “snared” by a member of the bar…I was particularly entertained by Sean Jones QC’s top 14 tips for being married to a barrister, inspired by the Clooney story, not least because it amounts to one for every year of my marriage to my former-Clooney-lookylikey-husband, and I think we both recognised at least half of the 14 tips as pretty damned accurate…

So there it is. A stroll around my brain. It’s a bit hectic and a bit fractured. So you’ll understand if it goes a bit quiet around here for a few days. I’ll be back in a few days to launch the litigants in person videos and at some point in May when I’ve handed the book over to the publishers normal service will resume….

Until then…Cheery bye my lovelies. x

One thought on “Friday Night Blues

  1. Have another glass. Reality is an illusion caused by lack of alcohol.

    Or in the words of the disgraceful sexist old Russian joke : Is no such thing as ugly woman. Is only not enough vodka.

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