The Practical Lawyer


Public law – parents with learning disabilities

What’s the correct focus for public law arguments in support of parents with learning disabilities being allowed to care for their children? This is the question addressed by the author, who highlights the challenges presented by proceedings involving the local authority – and parents with learning disabilities who have a newborn, or very young children. Typically, the LA is concerned at the mother’s ability to cope with caring for them, so issues care proceedings.  

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Procedure – freezing injunction; Family Court

In a money case, it is impossible to conceive of any circumstances where an application for a freezing order should be heard in the High Court, rather than the Family Court. An application for a freezing order should only be determined in the Family Court.  

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Financial remedies – non-matrimonial property

The court is not required to adopt a formulaic approach in relation to non-matrimonial property when determining a claim by application of the sharing principle.  

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Children – adoption

A judgment taking a ‘linear structure’ does not itself make the judge’s analysis or ruling wrong. In this case, care and placement orders were made in respect of a child, and M appealed.  

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Public law – deprivation of liberty

The local authority applied for Deprivation of Liberty and Secure Accommodation Orders in relation to a dysfunctional 14-year-old boy. He was already the subject of a care order and placed in a residential unit. However, the boy absconded and was later found by police in a drugs den, and was working as a drugs courier. He already had a criminal record, and was facing robbery charges.  

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Procedure – HFEA

There have been a number of rulings involving administrative failures in the completion and signing of forms by clinics before applications under the HFEA 2008, with legal implications for the applicants. In a recent case, the court had to consider a particular issue for the first time and, while doing so, acknowledge once again the profoundly distressing impact on those unwittingly caught up in these kinds of cases.  

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Procedure – children; domestic violence

A new Practice Direction 12J (Child Arrangements and Contact Orders: Domestic Abuse and Harm) has been issued by the President of the Family Division. Following an earlier review of PD12J by Cobb J, his report was published in January 2017 and its recommendations were all (with one exception) accepted by the President.  

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Procedure – settlement conferences

New MoJ information and guidance for practitioners on the ongoing settlement conferences pilot and evaluation has been published. The aim of the pilot, supported by the President of the Family division, is to see if an inquisitorial approach can lead to appropriate outcomes for children and families.  

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Procedure – children

Various provisions under the Children and Social Work Act 2017 (Commencement No. 1) Regulations 2017 are in force from 31 October 2017. Important amendments to legislation are made under Regulation 2 as follows:  

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Financial remedies – variation of periodical payments

In this case, H was ordered to pay annual spousal periodical payments of £120,000 on a joint lives basis to W, to run from 1 November 2014. Three months after the order was made, H applied to vary the order. He also sought permission to appeal the final order, falling into arrears in the meantime. W filed an application for enforcement.  

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