What family lawyers were talking about this week…

Family Law|Industry News|March 21st 2014

Thankfully not quite as much as last week…

Consumer watchdog the Legal Services Consumer Panel and the Legal Services Board, the independent body responsible for overseeing the regulation of lawyers in England and Wales, have jointly commissioned research into online do-it-yourself divorce document services. The Panel wants to assess the risks and challenges of an increasing trend for people to access legal services online. A spokesman for the Panel said: “We see that many consumers are attracted by the wider choice, convenience, speed and cost benefits of such approaches, although we also foresee potential risks such as unclear regulatory boundaries and privacy.” The study will report in the summer.

Victims of domestic abuse cases could be handed an exemption from having to give their safe addresses in open court, after a change in the law was backed by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. Mr Clegg said that his party supported ‘Eve’s Law’, which calls for stricter measures to protect victims. The law is named after the domestic violence survivor Eve Thomas, who first proposed it. Her husband was convicted of battery in 2011. When she later returned to court for an unrelated case, the judge ordered her to give her address. She refused, fearing for her own safety, and was threatened with prison for contempt of court before a friend intervened, paying the required costs to settle the case.

Mr Justice Holman has spoken out against the court time taken by wealthy international litigants engaged in ‘out of control’ divorce proceedings. He made his comments in the case Chai v Peng, in which the wife was seeking further maintenance pending suit from her husband, who lives in Malaysia. Mr Justice Holman said that the court fees paid by the parties to date were a mere £2,355, for which they have had all or part of six days of court time in England. A hearing of two days has been fixed for this spring, with a further 10 days of court time set aside in October to decide whether the divorce takes place in England or Malaysia.

Children separated from their parents in secret family court judgments must be able to find out the reasons for the courts’ decisions when they grow up, the President of the Family Division has said. Sir James Munby said it was of “great concern” that the judgments of all family court judges were not routinely transcribed and published. He called this a “major issue” for the children affected by judgments, who are then unable to find out at a later date why a judge came to a decision that may have affected the course of the rest of their life. He said that there is a “pressing need” for a “definitive record” for concerned parties to refer to if future contentions over the judgement occur.

Finally, a ‘stay-at-home’ husband who claims that he sacrificed his own career so that his wife, an investment banker, could continue hers has won a crucial victory in their £11 million divorce battle. Weng Choy says that he filed for divorce in England after a blazing row with his wife, Lena Tan. However, Mrs Tan launched parallel proceedings in Malaysia, and claimed that the divorce should proceed there. The English court disagreed with her, and Mrs Tan appealed. On Wednesday the Court of Appeal found in Mr Choy’s favour and dismissed the appeal.

Have a good weekend.

Image by Chris Potter via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Author: John Bolch

John Bolch often wonders how he ever became a family lawyer. He no longer practises, but has instead earned a reputation as one of the UK's best-known family law bloggers.

Comments(2)

  1. Paul says:

    Family lawyers should spend a week not talking at all but rather listening to the parents and children whose lives have been trampled over in the course of so-called family justice.

    • Caz says:

      It is the power the independant?????? secretive solicitor the Childrens services of the Local authority employ that should be changed by the Family courts, How possibly can one person employed by the LA for years be trusted, his power over his advocates and the fear of these advocates of employment if they challenge, this one man, this independant solicitor should be rotated, preferably from a practice outside the area of the Local Authority he is legally put in charge of, to avoided excessive power over his local advocates, this will give parents at least a chance of justice seeing to be done

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