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 – Extended their ‘End this Injustice Now‘ to support calls from campaigners for a wider review mechanism than appeal for historical family court decisions said to be unsafe and to ‘open up the family court’ (no details supplied). We Now Have a System that Supports Abusers – It’s got to change, 15th April, isn’t online but see Domestic abuse victim pushes for tougher laws to stop offenders slipping through net.
(Transparency Project members have long called for greater transparency from family court decisions . See our latest post on the President’s Transparency Review that is now taking oral evidence and is due to conclude by summer, with links to published submissions to the review including our own. See also this open call to the Law Commission for review of s.12 AJA. The Transparency Project would like to receive copies of submissions made to the review by others – from media to campaign organisations. See also this twitter thread reminding of guidance requiring anonymised judgments to be routinely published from contested finding of fact hearings at county court level and above, and of research on patchy implementation not least because of lack of resources for the time consuming job of safely anonymising judgments).
Kent Online – Explained how a mother in care proceedings succeeded in getting her children home from care after removal in the face of serious unexplained injuries her partner finally admitted to. (And how the journalist dealt with an application to lift reporting restrictions in order to report):
The Guardian, Telegraph, Sky News and others – Reported the judgment from the latest High Court decision in Akhmedova v Akhmedov & Ors  EWHC 545 without linking readers to it. Mrs Justice Knowles found adult son, Teimur Akhmedov, had helped his father conceal assets and ordered him to pay £75 million to his mother. The judgment itself, made a large volume of material accessible through a contents page with links; a handy list of those involved; a chronology; and a list of reported judgments to date with a brief summary from them.
Northwich Guardian, Byline Times and others – Press association reports of the (Re H-N) Court of Appeal judgment from four domestic abuse fact finding appeals ran in various online publications without a link to the open access judgment being reported. Ditto for Byline Times:
The Guardian – Linked readers of this report to the Court of Appeal domestic abuse appeals judgment and the MOJ ‘Harm Report‘ (on family justice system failures to protect survivors of domestic abuse and their children):
NEWLY PUBLISHED CASES
Re H-N and Others (Children) (Domestic Abuse: Finding of fact hearings) – The Transparency Project published posts from Jack Harrison, family law barrister and Transparency Project member and Olive Craig, Legal Officer at Rights of Women, on last months important Court of Appeal judgment in the wake of the Harm Report. See Re H-N  EWCA 448: The Court of Appeal considers domestic abuse and Domestic Abuse appeals – a missed opportunity for cultural change?:
Other responses we’ve seen and shared include those from Cafcass; Women’s Aid; the coalition of women’s group intervenors; Irwin Mitchell for Families Need Fathers; Charlotte Proudman at the Centre for Women’s Justice; Joshua Rozenberg; Professionally Embarrassing; Coram Chambers blog; and this DG Legal (Garden Court North Chambers) recorded webinar. (See also recent guidance from BASW for social workers and a new London and South East protocol for urgent domestic abuse protective injunctions and children act applications to be made out of area).
P (Discharge of Party), Re  EWCA Civ 512 (16 April 2021) – Julie Doughty explained a Court of Appeal decision to reinstate a mother who had been discharged without notice from Court of Protection proceedings regarding her 19 year old daughter, with new restrictions put in place on what evidence she could see. The Court suggested that the requirements of PD52C for parties to file skeletons in a form that can be disclosed to reporters in the lead up to appeal hearings be routinely addressed. See Discharging a party in a case – without telling them why:
F (A Child : Adjournment)  EWCA Civ 469 – Emily Ward highlighted a Mother’s successful appeal against an interim case management to press on with a final hearing despite her being heavily pregnant:
Newman v Southampton City Council & Ors  EWCA Civ 437 (25 March 2021) – Alice Twaite summarised the Court of Appeal decision that a highly regarded investigative journalist should not be provided with the court documents behind flawed care and adoption proceedings. See Journalist’s bid to see papers that led to flawed adoption decision fails and links to other commentary within:
AB v CD & Ors  EWHC 741 (Fam) (26 March 2021) – Lucy Reed discussed Mrs Justice Lieven’s confirmation (with reference to Bell v The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust & Ors – to be heard in the Court of Appeal on 23rd June) that parents can consent to puberty blockers without needing to apply to court on behalf of competent children under 16 where all are in agreement. See Another case about puberty blockers – what does it say? (See also Peter Dunne, Cambridge University Press.)
YY (Children: Conduct of the Local Authority)  EWHC 749 (Fam) (26 March 2021) – Local Authority Lawyer summarised Keehan J’s excoriating judgment on Herefordshire Council’s failures to children in their care. Louise Tickle will be live tweeting from the Extraordinary General Meeting on 27 April they have called in the wake of the judgment. Community Care reported previous Keehan J judgments about Herefordshire failures here.
J, G And H (Children: Supervision Orders)  EWHC 884 (Fam) (29 March 2021) – Julie Doughty commented on J, G and H and new Nuffield research on professional views of the use of free standing supervision orders:
F, Re (Assessment of Birth Family)  EWFC 31 (12 April 2021) – Suesspicious Minds explained a family court decision by a High Court judge that a local authority had no obligation to assess the possibility of birth family members of an adopted parent caring for her child.
IN OTHER TRANSPARENCY NEWS
The House of Lords Constitution Committee’s report on Covid-19 and the courts – Paul Magrath highlighted key findings including those on backlogs, technology, and access to remote hearings for open justice.
Transparency through open access resources
Useful new resource for parents & advisors at Research In Practice mapping the various (England only) support services for parents who’ve experienced repeat care removals in one place (local services, FDAC’s, Pause provisions & services under development:
27 April, 10am – Herefordshire council Extraordinary General Meeting will live stream here. Agenda and support papers including response strategy here. Item 5 is a response to the damning recent High Court judgment in EE (see cases above). Louise Tickle will be live tweeting.
27 April 12-1pm – International Parent Advocacy Network event, exploring the case for parent advocacy, practical ideas and a new toolkit for developing services.
28 April – Closing date for the survey on remote hearings in the financial remedies court. See Financial Remedies Court – Survey for Litigants in Person.
19-30 April – A series of events launched as part of the children’s social care review inviting children and families to have a voice.
18 May (4-5pm) – First of four open access briefing events from the Association of Professors of Social Work (APSW) to share knowledge with the social care sector, including for the care review. Information and registration here.
12 June – Deadline for responding the legal aid census:
23rd June 2021 – The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust appeal is listed for hearing in the Court of Appeal
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