EDUCATION AND TRAINING

We will keep you informed about training events which may be hosted by the FJB or other organisations, and will make educational material available on this page.

Financial Relief: Challenging an Arbitration Award

  |   Case Updates, Education & Training, Latest News

In the recent case of DB v DLJ [2016] EWHC 324 (Fam) Mostyn J considered the merits of an attempt by a wife to set aside an award made at an arbitration hearing on the basis of what she alleged to be a subsequent change of circumstances which vitiated the award. Mostyn J considered various strands of previous case law and practice guidance and summarised the grounds of challenge of such an award.  The test is stringent and it will only be in exceptional circumstances that the court will interfere.

 

An incredibly helpful summary by Alex Chandler of 1 King’s Bench Walk can be found at Family Law Online here.

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NEW Social Work Evidence Templates (SWET)

  |   Education & Training, Latest News

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services and CAFCASS have – following consultation – issued revised social work evidence templates (SWET).

 

The use of the SWET is endorsed by the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby.  Practitioners will note that the templates are slightly simplified and incorporate the guidance and relevant “Welfare Checklists” within the documents themselves.

 

Further details can be found at the ADCS website and the FLBA website.  You can download the templates below and from the PUBLIC LAW section of our INFORMATION CENTRE.

SWET

SWET – FINAL

 

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Transparency Project S.20 Guidance

  |   Education & Training, Latest News

Following from the Section 20 Practice Guidance issued by Leicester DFJ HHJ Bellamy, The Transparency Project have issued their own comprehensive Guidance on the use of voluntary accommodation for children by local authorities.

 

The Guidance was accompanied by this press release:

PRESS RELEASE

Family Court Transparency Charity publish guidance on use of “voluntary” accommodation of children.

 

The Transparency Project* has today published guidance** relating to voluntary accommodation of children by local authorities. Under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, local authorities may provide accommodation for children who do not have somewhere suitable to live, where their parents consent. Section 20 is not just about housing, but involves taking a child into the care system by agreement rather than by court order. There is thus no judicial scrutiny of what is happening to the child and no court timetable by when final decisions must be made about the child.

The use (and misuse) of section 20 accommodation has been the subject of recent significant judicial criticism and media comment. It is clear that problems arise when children ‘drift’ in the care system under section 20 without proper plans being made for their future, or when parents feel they were under pressure to agree to section 20 accommodation without fully understanding the consequences.

In light of this recent interest in and concern about the use of section 20, The Transparency Project has published guidance about its use. The guidance relates to children under the age of 16.

Sarah Phillimore, trustee of the Project and lead author of the guidance, said

“The issue of ‘parental responsibility’ and who can make decisions for children under section 20 also has the potential to cause serious difficulties as it seems many parents (and some social workers) are not always clear about the impact of section 20 on their ability to exercise parental responsibility for the children.” 

The Transparency Project hope that this guidance will be useful for parents, carers and professionals who are unsure about what section 20 accommodation is, when it should be used and what safeguards should be in place to make sure that parents and carers are fully informed.

 

The Guidance can be downloaded from The Transparency Project website and can be found in the PUBLIC LAW section of our INFORMATION CENTRE.

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New CAP Forms

  |   Education & Training, Latest News, Updates from the Bench

The President of the Family Division has issued a statement announcing the release of new standard orders to be used under the Child Arrangements Programme with immediate effect.  The intention is to shorten the orders and make them easier and more accessible for court users.

 

The orders replace the previous CAP forms.  A Master Copy tick box form is being made available to all court staff to complete the orders and can be used to complete orders at court by hand.

 

For ease of use, we have also produced the three forms in a template format that can easily be downloaded and completed electronically.  They are also available for download from the PRIVATE LAW section of our Information Centre.

CAP Allocation and Gatekeeping

CAP Directions and Orders

CAP Enforcement

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Birmingham LFJB Conference

  |   Education & Training, Events, Latest News

Wednesday 3rd February is a chance to get some early CPD points in this year with the Birmingham Local Family Justice Board annual conference.

 

The packed programme features many prominent local speakers covering the issues of the day, including FGM, CSE and direct testimony from children in care.

 

The programme and booking form can be found below and downloaded here.

 

Advance Conference flyer  app form  2016 (1) copy

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Domestic abuse – coercive control

  |   Education & Training, Events, Latest News

Lawyers and Judges who deal with cases in the Family Court are very familiar with the kinds of controlling behaviours often used within abusive intimate relationships. Domestic abuse does not only mean physical violence; in fact, there are many cases where direct violence is never used. Name-calling, threats, constant criticism, undermining self-esteem, controlling your finances, telling you who you can and cannot talk to or associate with, constantly checking up on you, or telling you what to wear can all be ways that a partner uses to psychologically control you. This can be very damaging and upsetting, but it is often difficult to recognise that your own partner is abusing you in this way.

 

This kind of behaviour has now been made a criminal offence. Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 is as follows:

 

Controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—

(a) A repeatedly or continuously engages in behaviour towards another person (B) that is controlling or coercive,

(b) at the time of the behaviour, A and B are personally connected,

(c) the behaviour has a serious effect on B, and

(d) A knows or ought to know that the behaviour will have a serious effect on B.

(2) A and B are “personally connected” if—

(a) A is in an intimate personal relationship with B, or

(b) A and B live together and—

(i) they are members of the same family, or

(ii) they have previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other.

(3) But A does not commit an offence under this section if at the time of the behaviour in question—

(a) A has responsibility for B, for the purposes of Part 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (see section 17 of that Act), and

(b) B is under 16.

(4) A’s behaviour has a “serious effect” on B if—

(a) it causes B to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against B, or

(b) it causes B serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on B’s usual day-to-day activities.

(5) For the purposes of subsection (1)(d) A “ought to know” that which a reasonable person in possession of the same information would know.

(6) For the purposes of subsection (2)(b)(i) A and B are members of the same family if—

(a) they are, or have been, married to each other;

(b) they are, or have been, civil partners of each other;

(c) they are relatives;

(d) they have agreed to marry one another (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);

(e) they have entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);

(f) they are both parents of the same child;

(g) they have, or have had, parental responsibility for the same child.

(7) In subsection (6)—

“civil partnership agreement” has the meaning given by section 73 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004;

“child” means a person under the age of 18 years;

“parental responsibility” has the same meaning as in the Children Act 1989;

“relative” has the meaning given by section 63(1) of the Family Law Act 1996.

(8) In proceedings for an offence under this section it is a defence for A to show that—

(a) in engaging in the behaviour in question, A believed that he or she was acting in B’s best interests, and

(b) the behaviour was in all the circumstances reasonable.

(9) A is to be taken to have shown the facts mentioned in subsection (8) if—

(a) sufficient evidence of the facts is adduced to raise an issue with respect to them, and

(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

(10) The defence in subsection (8) is not available to A in relation to behaviour that causes B to fear that violence will be used against B.

(11) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or a fine, or both;

(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or a fine, or both.

 

This means that if your partner (or former partner) behaves repeatedly or continuously in a way which is controlling or coercive towards you, and this has a serious effect on you, they may be guilty of a criminal offence. The effect on you is serious is it causes you to fear on at least two occasions that violence will be used against you, or if it causes you serious alarm or distress which affects your day-to-day life.

 

If you believe that you are or have been in a relationship like this, you may want to consider reporting this to the police. Alternatively, there are other organisations which can help, such as Women’s Aid.  You can find more contact details on our Useful Links page.  Women’s Aid have produced very useful guidance to help parents to recognise if their teenager is in a controlling relationship (as domestic abuse can begin at a young age). This guidance is also very helpful to show some of the types of controlling and coercive behaviour that abusive partners use. You can download it here.

 

You can also seek protection from the Family Court. A non-molestation order is an order which can stop your partner from threatening or abusing you, and may be used to make sure they stay a safe distance away from you and your home. If you live together, an occupation order can be used to make sure that your partner needs to leave your home and live somewhere else. These orders can be made on an urgent basis, sometimes without even telling your partner before the case comes to court.

 

 

It is also important to remember that if you are in a relationship like this and have children, exposing the children to this kind of behaviour can be very upsetting for them and potentially damaging in the long term. You might want to consider how it is best for your children to spend time with your partner if you choose to separate.

 

You can find more information in the ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS section of our Information Centre.

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Local PD27A Compliance

  |   Education & Training, Latest News, Updates from the Bench

Leicester DFJ HHJ Bellamy has recently published the following judgment: Re D and R (Children) [2015] EWFC B198

 

Local practitioners should note the post-script in which HHJ Bellamy states his intention that from 1st January 2016 all lawyers responsible for filing a court bundle for any hearing will be required to complete a certificate of compliance in order to confirm that the bundle complies fully with PD27A.

 

You may wish to re-familiarise yourself with the Practice Direction and our “Quick Look” Guide.

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ALC conference – places available

  |   Education & Training, Events, Latest News

Places are at this moment still available on the upcoming conference of the Association of Lawyers for Children.

 

Entitled “Are we nearly there yet?” A Child’s Journey through the Family Justice System, the conference takes place this year at the Midland Hotel, Manchester on 19th-21st November.  A full programme is available here Programme_(2)_2015

 

Featuring a keynote speech from the Right Honourable Lady Brenda Hale DBE, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, the list of speakers and workshop hosts reads as a veritable “who’s who” of family law.  The high quality of the programme cannot be over-estimated and it covers all areas of children law, including expert evidence and advocacy training.

 

The conference is residential, but different packages are available for delegates to attend only some or all of the days, with and without accommodation included.

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