This blog is not just about family law. As is required pursuant to the law of sod I am too darn busy to post anything much about the biggest family law news for some time, the publication of the Family Justice Review. And since this is not my day job it’s the blog that has to give. Too many plates spinning, balls in the air and fingers in pies. I’ve dropped the ball in my pie and I’ve got no crockery to serve it on. What a dog’s dinner of a metaphor.
Anyway, the Family Justice Review. It’s been published. And as far as I can tell it says mainly what those of us who read the interim report thought it would, but in considerably more detail than the interim report. I read a reasonable chunk of it on my iphone whilst waiting at court on Friday for a no-show client. It kept us entertained for a good hour on our 2 1/2 year long care case. Which, as it happened, resulted in an SGO rather than an adoption order only by dint of delay. We particularly liked the part about 6 month targets for care cases. Oh how we laughed.
Anyway, the Family Justice Review. Gosh, I am distractible. You can read it here. I will make some meaningful comment on it when I have actually read it properly. When I say meaningful I mean slightly more thoughtful than the superficial carping above, and slightly more accurate than anything reported by the press on Thursday about “custody” and the “rejection of equal rights for parents” (er, we haven’t had custody for 20 years but parents already do have equal rights, albeit that the outcomes are not equivalent when broken down by gender, for reasons entirely unconnected with their rights). Even the Today programme asked shockingly idiotic questions of David Norgrove. They obviously read their brief on the way to court.
What seems pretty clear to everyone however, is the real tension between LASPO and the review proposals. Norgrove is clear that the whole thing will be a shambles if LASPO goes through. He is clear about the vital role lawyers perform. Of course if the Government were to implement the proposals in the FJR report such as the proposal to conclude proceedings more swiftly, there would be significant costs savings on lawyers and experts fees even if they left private family proceedings in scope and didn’t cut our fees by a further 10%. But somehow I don’t think that will be the way that the Government see things. Because it’s not really about savings. As you can see from this classy quote from Ken Clarke (as quoted by The Gazette):
‘I am a lawyer, and I have the highest respect for lawyers and no intention of offending the legal profession, but in the lobbying of this house and the upper house we have had an army of lawyers advancing behind a front row of women and children – vulnerable claimants who say they would not be represented if they are not paid as much as they are now. I am afraid I do not believe that.’
Lawyers really are shameless, aren’t we?