Welcome to this month’s Roundup, where we correct, clarify and comment on media reports of family court cases, explain and comment on published family court judgments and highlight other transparency news
MEDIA COVERAGE OF FAMILY COURT MATTERS
The Express – IPSO upheld our complaint about an inaccurate article in the Daily Express, (entitled ‘All I did was tell the truth…then court threw me in jail‘) and required the Express to publish a correction. See 296 days to correct a factual inaccuracy – effective press regulation? explaining the long saga of this complaint and highlighting our direct experience of the limitation of the regulatory scheme:
The Daily Mail – Inaccurately claimed in a salacious headline (now updated) that Haringey Council sent a child to live with a paedophile, in response to a published judgment that exposed safeguarding failures in the disabled children’s team short of that. Lucy Reed explained the case, the Mail’s inaccuracy and Hayden J’s subsequent decision to name the council in Journalists persuade Judge to change his mind and name criticised local authority about naming the council:
Tortoise – We’re normally careful to select from outside of the Transparency Project team but on this occasion we’ve given way to acknowledging Louise Tickle’s in depth, balanced, nuanced, long read on how Covid measures are affecting children (and their families). As facilitated by the slow news, long read model at Tortoise Media:
BBC News and the Guardian– Clive Coleman and Owen Bowcott explained a judicial review challenge to complex legal aid financial rules preventing some victims of domestic abuse getting legal aid for family court cases to protect themselves even when in receipt of universal credit. See here and here:
BBC Yorkshire – Reported Hayden J’s decision in the Court of Protection to permit Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to stop treating an 8 week old baby in favour of palliative care, against his parents wishes, including the positive working relationship between the trust and the parents notwithstanding their disagreement. See also Hayden J’s judgment published subsequently, and his observations about deciding such cases remotely for the first time:
These decisions are difficult enough in ordinary times. But a hearing via a video-conferencing platform creates its own particular challenges. The mother and father, who join the video hearing via their mobile telephone, have not always been in my constant view as I would have preferred them to be. I regret that it has not been possible for there to be proper eye contact between us. There are however, some advantages too. It was a great privilege to have been able to go to Z’s bed (remotely) with such little intrusion for him or to those caring for him. I should like to thank the parents for inviting me to see him.
NEWLY PUBLISHED CASES
Lancashire County Council v M & Ors (COVID-19 Adjournment Application) (Rev 1)  EWFC 43 (12 June 2020) – Julie Doughty highlighted the judgment from MacDonald J that pulled together key guidance to date in one place on the proper judicial exercise of discretion in choosing between a remote hearing, hybrid hearing or adjourned hearing in the context of Covid. See here:
GC v A County Counci & Ors  EWCA Civ 848 (03 July 2020) – Laura Vickers explained the law and facts behind a Court of Appeal decision that a council should not have been given judicial permission to withdraw care proceedings without a full fact finding determination. See Who Decides Who Decides? Withdrawal of Care Proceedings:
N (A Child)  EWCA Civ 1997 (19 November 2019) and S (Vulnerable Parent: Intermediary)  EWCA Civ 763 (16 June 2020) – Jack Harrison highlighted two recent Court of Appeal decisions on the right approach to supporting vulnerable parties to family court proceedings. See The Family Court and Vulnerable People.
Villiers v Villiers  UKSC 30 (1 July 2020) – Polly Morgan explained why the Supreme Court decided that the English courts had jurisdiction to decide a wife’s s27 maintenance claim, and an obligation to hear it. See A triad of judgments from the Supreme Court:
H (A Child Parental Responsibility : Vaccination)  EWCA Civ 664 (22 May 2020) – Katie Gollop explained this Court of Appeal decision clarifying how council’s should manage vaccinations for children in care where parents object. See Vaccination – No ‘biggie’ but still ‘a big deal:
A (A Child) (Rev 1)  EWCA Civ 731 (15 June 2020) – Laura Vickers explained the legal reasoning behind the Court of Appeal’s decision to refuse the Home Secretary’s appeal against the President’s decision to make a Female Genital Protection Order, notwithstanding a Home Office decision to refuse an asylum application on grounds of risk of FGM. As reported in the Guardian here and here:
Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust v KD  EWCOP 35 (02 July 2020) – Hayden J, Vice President of the Court of Protection, emphasised that all judgments involving the treatment of incapacitated individuals against their expressed wishes should be published for proper public scrutiny, not to mention the advantages of making a wider body of knowledge available to treating clinicians as to the type of case that should be brought to court:
C (inflicted injuries – no public law orders)  EWFC – We highlighted HHJ Vincent’s decision to publish her family court judgment showing how young children successfully returned home notwithstanding removal and a fracture found to be inflicted. With a descriptive header and her original fact finding judgment appended for fuller understanding:
Ameyaw v McGoldrick & Ors  EWHC 1741 (QB) (02 July 2020) and EWHC 1787 (QB) (06 July 2020) – Paul Magrath highlighted a pair of (non- family court) decisions not to let a Mckenzie Friend speak for a litigant nor to find bias requiring recusal. See Right of audience denied: McKenzie Friend not allowed to speak for litigant who was ‘well able to speak on her own behalf’.
Z (A Child : DOLS: Lack of Secure Placement)  EWHC 1827 (Fam) (10 July 2020) – Mrs Justice Judd flagged severe, chronic shortages of secure accommodation for vulnerable children leading to use of unregulated placements, in this published judgment of her decision to authorise a deprivation of liberty under the inherent jurisdiction:
IN OTHER TRANSPARENCY NEWS
A remote private FDR – An anonymus contributor flagged the potential benefits of private remote FDR’s and offered insight into how they work. See A Remote Private FDR:
The ‘Spotlight Review’ Panel – Reported to the government on how the family courts treat domestic abuse and victims of it. We’ve published two guest post responses so far on the blog and aim to comment further. See Spotlight domestic abuse review – big changes ahead for Family Court; Spotlight Review: Breaking the Cycle of Failure for LIPs? by Jess Mant, and Another view on the government ‘spotlight review’ report – on how the family courts treat domestic abuse by Ursula Rice:
The Legal Blogging Pilot – The pilot (that enables duly qualified legal bloggers to attend otherwise private family court hearings on a par with accredited journalists, though not to report anything of substance without judicial permission) has been extended to 31December 2020. Alice Twaite again tested barriers to attendance at remote hearings under the pilot, including hearings at short notice. See Legal blogging a remote family court hearing on the HMCTS platform of choice (CVP): Something of a collaboration in the end – on barriers and why substantial progress is being made in opening up the Court of Protection by comparison to the family courts. See also Version 5 of the Remote Family Court, suggestive that courts should be aiming to offer systems capable of facilitating short notice access to remote hearings despite the pressure they are under. So long as the urgent nature of the media enquiry is spelt out in the email header. It also provides a general telephone number for assistance where needed. We hope to test these systems out again in the future under the pilot):
The Open Justice Court of Protection Project – See Hunger Striking for his Identity: Autonomy, Capacity, and Justice, for just one example of the pioneering work of Celia Kitzinger and Gill Loomes at the newly formed Open Justice Court of Protection Project. Bringing ‘routine’ (complex and life changing) decisions in the Court of Protection to the public for scrutiny and education – with compassion, insight and enquiry. And enabling the public (including trainees, academics and professionals) to access remote hearings to report back and to learn. (Hayden J later published the judgment behind his decision, prompting reports in a few local online outlets via Press Association copy. See also Guardian and BBC News reports prior to proceedings):
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