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 Guardian – Reported the Court of Appeal decision from R (on the application of) Quincy Bell and A -v- Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust (on the proper limits of children’s valid consent to their own treatment with puberty blockers), with a valuable link for online readers to the published judgment and summary. The Observer editorial did like-wise. See Puberty blockers: U16’s unlikely to be able to give informed consent (and BBC Newsnight):
The TP team explained the decision and asked some questions ahead of the permission to appeal application the Tavistock say they will be seeking. See our post here:
The Guardian (again) – Linked online readers from Domestic abuse victims with ‘trapped capital’ should not be denied legal aid, court rules to the published High Court judgment itself (that found that the Legal Aid Agency has discretion in cases where equity that would otherwise disqualify an applicant for legal aid can’t be accessed):
The Guardian – Lucy Reed wondered whether campaign aims risk skewing truly balanced reporting in Media coverage of family courts and domestic abuse – fake news?:
NEWLY PUBLISHED CASES
T (A Child)  EWCA Civ 2136 (04 October 2018) (in the Supreme Court) and Lancashire County Council v G (No 2) (Continuing Unavailability of Secure Accommodation) (Rev 1)  EWHC 3124 (Fam) (20 November 2020) – Julie Doughty explained Re T in the Supreme Court on using the inherent jurisdiction to restrict children’s liberty in unregulated placements, in the absence of placement options that meet the statutory requirements of s.25 CA1989. See also the Children Commissioners new report; Lancashire CC v G (Rev 1) (& Revs 2 & 3); plus brief new guidance requiring inspectors to be notified if a child is moving to an unregistered placement. Update to follow when the Supreme Court gives judgment:
Depp II v News Group Newspapers Ltd & Anor  EWHC 2911 (QB) (02 November 2020) – Lucy Reed compared management of allegations of abuse in a celebrity libel trial to the family court. See “Did everyone see that? Because I will not be doing it again.” – Jack Sparrow:
C (Revocation of Placement Orders)  EWCA Civ 1598 (27 November 2020) – Mark Senior flagged a sad decision on a mother’s appeal against the decision not to revoke placement orders despite her turning her life around in the period before her children were placed for adoption:
Y (Leave to Oppose Adoption), Re  EWCA Civ 1287 & JL (Leave to Apply to Revoke Placement Order) (Rev 1)  – Jack Harrison discussed the court of appeal’s application of the law on permission to revoke placement orders and permission to oppose adoption:
Article 39, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Education  EWCA Civ 1577 (24 November 2020) – The Court of Appeal found the Secretary of State to have acted unlawfully by failing to properly consult before making temporary regulations curtailing certain rights for children in care in England. (See Jack Harrison’s earlier post here):
C v D  EWFC 83 (27 November 2020) – Judgment from re hearing after a mother’s successful appeal against HHJ Tolson’s fact finding decision. See Louise Tickle (freelance journalist and Transparency Project member) who attended the re-hearing) on twitter. See also That judgment and what people have said about it… at the Transparency Project and Louise Tickle in the Guardian on the appeal decision and what it revealed of the original judgment (unpublished). (See also new judicial guidance on Safety from Domestic Abuse and Special Measures in Remote and Hybrid Hearings and the terms of reference for the government review of the presumption of parental involvement).
Haley v Haley  EWCA Civ 1369 (23 October 2020) – Deborah Dinan-Hayward discussed the Court of Appeal decision on the test to be applied in cases where parties had agreed to arbitration, but one was dissatisfied with the award. See Appealing an arbitration award:
Robin-Simmers and Adrien (Children : Care Order)  EWFC B52 (12 November 2020) – Recorder Henley published her judgment from a decision to adjourn care proceedings to see if parents could improve in time, in the face of last minute admissions and the children’s wishes. The judgment is written for the benefit of the parents and children and includes a letter directly to the children by request of their guardian. It also features pseudonyms chosen by the children for publication. See also two recent judgments from Cobb J featuring children who chose their publication pseudonym here and here:
Davies v Wigan Council & Anor  EWCOP 60 (23 November 2020) – Judgment from Haydn J’s decision on care home visiting rights, where the usual anonymity of the person concerned was waived on the basis that she would have wanted the litigation brought on her behalf on a matter of such public importance to achieve the widest possible benefit to others by being in her name. See Waiving anonymity to promote care home visiting rights at the Open Justice CoP Project.
P (Sexual Abuse: Finding of Fact Hearing)  EWFC 27 (01 May 2019) – Judgment from Mr Justice MacDonald’s fact finding decision on allegations of sexual abuse. Including important commentary and learning from the case on police and social worker procedural requirements early in investigations, and the problem of ‘disclosure’ terminology embedded in government and NSPCC guidelines. All detail of the sexual abuse alleged and even the final facts found or otherwise are redacted. See previous Transparency Project posts on the problem of ‘disclosure’ terminology here and here:
IN OTHER TRANSPARENCY NEWS
The President’s transparency review and the legal blogging pilot
Oral evidence to the Transparency Review is to be taken in the Spring. The legal blogging pilot is extended for another year with a view to a decision in early summer on it becoming a permanent fixture. Lucy Reed updated on both (from the President’s latest View and the open Family Procedure Rules Committee) in The View Lengthens:
Lucy Reed observed a private law children case on invitation of a litigant. See Observing a private law children case in the High Court for what she made of it. See also Reframing support for parents following separation from the private law working group sub group below:
Transparency through documents
Melanie Newman and legal team announced that the Court of Appeal have granted her permission to appeal the High Court decision that she should not see family court documents to investigate an apparent miscarriage of justice (later rectified by the Court of Appeal). With a preliminary costs cap decision: ‘The appeal raises an matter of significant public interest, namely the balance as between Article 8 and Article 10 where a responsible journalist seeks access to court papers; this includes consideration of the approach of the court to the Article 8 interests of a young child where a person with parental responsibility wishes to consent to full disclosure of all the court papers on behalf of the child, the subject of the proceedings.’ Panopticon (11 KBW) wrote previously about the legal issues and Newman on the process. The original judgments are here and here. Local Government Lawyer, the Gazette, and Hold the Front Page also reported previously. The President gave guidance on applications by journalists to relax reporting restrictions in response to a previous application in the same family court case:
Celia Kitzinger acknowledged a small shift to providing opening summaries, that has made a significant difference in making hearings accessible to observers in the Court of Protection:
There is also a new report about private law, commissioned by Welsh Government to look at the potential for a Supporting Separating Families Alliance in Wales. This maps existing services for parents and puts forward options for coordination and development.
Research on remote hearings – Eve French evaluated the findings from the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory original evaluation and recent follow up, in Remote Hearings in the Family of Courts of England and Wales: what the research shows. See also Guardian and BBC News reports:
Cafcass Open Board Meeting – Alice Twaite updated from the latest Cafcass open board meeting, including on the Cafcass response to the Harm Report. See Headlines from the latest Cafcass open Board Meeting
10 DECEMBER 2020 – Register here for today’s Public Law Project training at 11am on how to apply for exceptional legal aid for representation in the Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) Tribunal. Aimed at barristers, solicitors, NGOs, and individuals.
14 DECEMBER 2020 – Register here for an (online) Q&A with researchers, hosted by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, on contact during lock down with children in the care system and placed for adoption.
14 DECEMBER 2020 (5:30 PM to 7:30 PM) – Applications are still open to register for the annual Family Justice Council event on assessing the risk of harm to children and parents in private law cases (in response to the Harm Report).
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