Welcome to your annual horoscope by Famileo, and here are my predictions for what 2014 has in store for us in family law. (Alright, alright - it's not quite as bad as a review of 2013 or a top ten - but in fact it is a useful if rather frightening exercise.) 2014 is gonna be a year and a half. Deep breath folks, Libra is in decline and there will be a full moon rising for the entire year, with Munby ruling. By the end of it we will all be howling :
- For us 2014 is the year of the Single Family Court, currently forecast for April, but possibly not until later in 2014. Old divisions will disappear as the fire and water signs merge, and as the gemini triplets rise there will be many surprises in store for all of us.
- Your friends will tell you 26 weeks will become law in April, but you would be wise not to listen to them - Aquarius is rising and dates are fluid and you may find that the Public Law Pilot Scheme will be revised and extended beyond its current scheduled end date of 31 March.
- The planets are aligning so that the Children and Families Bill will be passed into law in around February. The provisions of the Act relating to public and private law family proceedings will be brought into force in 2014, my prediction is not until the latter part of the year.
- Everybody will be disappointed and confused with and irritated by the private law reforms by way of amendments of part 1 Children Act 1989. Child arrangements orders will confuse litigants in person (and the rest of us).
- There will be more clamour for transparency in the shape of publication of anonymised judgments, and no easy mechanism for achieving it at circuit and district judge level. There will be practice directions before the spring equinox.
- More Court of Protection judgments will be published.
- There will be continued sketchy reporting of cases in the press either because of the absence of publicly available factual information or in spite of it. But be patient, all will become clear if you bide your time and trust in Bailli.
- You dream of holidays on remote sandy beaches, but the stars do not hold that in store for you this year. There will be an array of new Practice Directions to read, including on transparency and allocation of proceedings within the SFC, the allocation and hearing of appeals from the SFC and the operation of the new court it generally. If you do make it on holiday to a rainy campsite in Wales you will have to take reading with you, and will be fined half your annual income by the Information Commissioner if it is stolen or lost.
- You long for the glamour of a reported judgment with your name on it. But be careful what you wish for. There will be a rash of unsuccessful appeals predicated on something being "non-BS-Compliant" and the Court of Appeal will say "No no no. That's not what we meant at ALL. PLEASE don't keep appealing perfectly good judgments". Only they will say so at more length.
- Everyone will want a piece of you. They will expect you to do more for less and quicker. You must know when to take a break if you are to survive this year of turmoil.
- The Cobb J Child Arrangements Programme will be largely adopted and will probably be implemented in the summer. The concerns and questions raised in that report will go unanswered and unheeded, but as the moon enters scorpio the sting in the tail will be revealed.
- Money will be tight for you this year. Be careful - there will be costs orders against the late and the thoughtless.
- Newspapers will continue to refer to "custody battles" and "contact orders".
- Romance is not on the cards for you this year, although you may hear more from the Marriage Foundation.
- Mostyn J will become the Bete Noir of the Mail and Telegraph.
- It is the year of the tiger. The criminal bar will become increasingly militant.
- A few chambers will close. Others will merge.
- Quite a lot of solicitors firms will close or merge.
- Be watchful. Some new business models you haven't thunk of yet will emerge and you will kick yourself.
- Be wise. The bar will continue to grapple ham-fistedly with public access.
- Be kind. The bar pro bono unit will be swamped (Nov 13 90% up on Nov 12).
- Private law applications will start to rise again and chaos will rein.
- There will be more sabre-rattling about the ECHR.
- As Uranus rises and fees sink there may be problems securing experts to report in cases when cases funded through post-Dec 2013 legal aid certificates come through the system.
- The average duration for care cases will continue to decrease, but will not quite reach 26 weeks by the year end.
- There will be an appeal towards the end of the year relating to the interpretation of the new provisions in the Children and Families Bill regarding judicial scrutiny of the contents of care plans.
- There will be not more than 20 exceptional case determinations made under s10 LASPO Act in the whole year for all areas of law.
- I see a tall dark man. No wait. That's Mr Pink Tape with a cup of tea.
- There will be so much going on and so many people in a bit of a spin about it that that wheels will come off something somewhere. The tealeaves are not very clear though, and I can't tell which wheels or how big the car crash will be. But *swirls cup* I'm definitely getting shambles.
- According to my chart I will continue to be mardy, ornery and mouthy. As all good Leos are.
I can also exclusively reveal the personalised horoscope for the President, created by a reading of his charts, his palm, his judgments and his transparent crystal ball: It can be done, it must be done it will be done. Bet he's a Leo too*.
Post script. In a desperate search for inspiration** for this blog post I have selflessly trawled a number of horoscope websites. I could have lifted almost every word of every horoscope I read for some profound but non-specific phrase of apparent significance for all of us. But that seemed to be a bit of a cheat. And we astrologists don't cheat. So these babies are all my own
writing readings (However, if anything is wrong I blame the constellations). Plus, the more I read the more at risk I am of believing this nonsense because, whilst rational me knows it is mere coincidence I am a dead ringer for your standard description of my star sign, Leo. So I have had to ban myself from astrology websites for fear of developing a terribly stupid addiction.
* OMG According to Wikipedia Munby only IS A LEO!! Have I just stumbled upon proof that astrology is valid?? (Incidentally, according to Russell Grant his Chinese sign is a Rat - rats do not have such negative connotations in eastern culture as here incidentally).
** by which I mean stock phrases and linguistic tics that I can rip off and caricature.