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High Court judge hails importance of family lawyers

High Court judge Mr Justice Baker has hailed the importance of specialist family solicitors and barristers.

Speaking at the conclusion of a case in which he had dismissed an application for care orders by Devon County Council, the judge noted the level of specialist knowledge displayed by counsel in the case and declared:

“…this case demonstrates again the crucial role played by the specialist family bar and solicitors.”

He contrasted this with litigants in person, saying:

“All judges are very concerned at the prospect of an increase in self-represented litigants and the consequences for the family justice system. Not enough recognition is given to the contribution to the family justice system made by family lawyers.”

Without the contribution of specialist family lawyers in similar cases, “it would be impossible to ensure that justice is done”, declared the judge.

The case was also an illustration of the fact that some family law cases would take longer than 26 weeks, said Mr Justice Baker, but such cases would be “a small minority”, “exceptional cases, where the investigation takes longer.”

Lord Justice Ryder set out a 26 week timetable for most family law cases in his report Judicial Proposals for the Modernisation of Family Justice, which was published last year.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Rosemary Coleman, Esq. says:

    Stresses are compounded for families experiencing the crisis of a divorce as the divorcing families are casualities of seriously weakened economies. The loss of employment, reduction in pay, and or mandatory fourlough time means there is no etxtra money for competent legal advice. The budget crisis is resulting in long term devastating effects on families with ill-advised parenting plans, inequitable property divisions and support orders which have been based on the barest of information. Society will feel the ripple effect for years to come. Families in crisis are alone/isolated, agreeing to final orders disolving the marriage without the guidence of the family law lawyer/solicitor. The pain and damage of family dysfunction at time of divorce will be perpetuated and exercerbated by ill advised agreements/orders. Courts are over burdened with self represented litigants whose cases consume precious time on a calendar with many matters. Many Judges are understandly requesting that these self litigants “go into the hallway” and come to an agreement. An agreement with no competent legal advice will trouble these families far beyond the date the divorce is “final”. It is under regretful circumstances that the legal world is beginning to appreciate the value of ethical competent family law lawyers/solicitors/barristers. There simply is no substitute.

  2. Steve says:

    Hi Rosemary

    Some food for thought, but how many family law/lawyers/barristers/solicitors actually advise on what is a good deal. In all the cases I know the response is “Its up to you” and “nobody knows till we get to final hearing and see the judge”. I appreciate why there are so many LIPs, they cant afford the £300 to £400 pounds per hour “professional” people charge for often useless advice. The ordinary LIP does expect the great british legal system to work for them and so what if courts are over burden the courts.perhaps if the courts work full time then there will not be a problem. Remember in the aftermath of a divorce, its the excessive legal bills that effectively “kill” an individual. Family law practioners, please get real and stop abusing clients with mis-information designed to escalate legal bills.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      The lawyers rates you quote are not completely accurate. Lawyers rates vary substantially depending on a number of varying and wide ranging factors. Legal aid rates were very significantly less and in some cases lawyers still advise pro bono. Stop blaming the lawyers whose job it is to get the case in order, obtain the evidence and explain the law then give the client all the options. It is the client whose responsibility it is to make the decision.

  3. Observer says:

    But lawyers don’t get cases in order. Their job is quite the reverse in that a multitude of strategies are employed to drag it out, incite acrimony and profit off of the emotionally vulnerable

    I have no problem with what Steve says here.

  4. Steve says:

    Apologies, the established firms will charge between £290 to £400 per hour. It is no surprise we have a surge in LIPs and the courts are “over burdened”.With negative equity, job insecurity, the average man on the street simply cannot afford legal costs with solicitors intent on “cost-build”. Time to clean up the business and lets get real.


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