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A Week In Family Law – New Cases, Domestic Violence And More

Cafcass has published its latest figures for care applications and private law demand, for July 2018. In that month the service received a total of 1,224 new care applications. This figure is 1.8 per cent lower than July 2017. As to private law demand, Cafcass received a total of 3,768 new private law cases. This is 4.2 per cent higher than July 2017, when there were 3,617 cases, and the highest monthly figure since October 2017. So some good news on the public law front, but further worrying pressure being put upon the courts when it comes to private law matters.

As I wrote here, a UK study has found that scapegoating football as a trigger for domestic violence trivialises the issue and risks offering offenders an excuse for their behaviour. It found that reports linking a spike in cases with the outcome of Old Firm games and England’s World Cup performance lacked reliable data, and failed to recognise that abuse is a pattern of ongoing behaviour. The findings are included in the first in-depth study of the perceived link between football and domestic violence and abuse, from the point of view of survivors, police, specialist support groups, football authorities, government organisations and policymakers, in Scotland and England. Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Glasgow and the University of Bristol heard that previous studies had over-simplified the issue and discounted a range of factors, including increased policing on match days, the large number of men who watch and support the sport, and different recording practices between police forces.

A Spanish father whose child was wrongfully removed from Spain by the mother in 2016 has failed in an appeal against an order setting aside an earlier order that the child be returned to Spain. In 2017 the father made an application under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction for an order that the child be returned. In November 2017 the court made such an order. However, in April this year the judge set aside that order because he considered that there had been a “sea-change” since he had made that order, because of a significant deterioration in the mother’s mental health. The father appealed against the setting aside of the return order, but his appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal. The father’s Hague Convention application will now be re-heard, as a matter of urgency. I may write about this case in more detail in the coming days.

Next a story that was literally not quite a family matter. A woman who was seeking a new partner who was a ‘sophisticated gentleman’ with a ‘wealthy lifestyle’ and who would have children with her, successfully sued a dating agency that failed to provide her with a man who met those demanding requirements. Hearing the case His Honour Judge Richard Parkes QC found that the agency had misled the woman about its “exclusive” membership, including the number of wealthy men on its books. He therefore awarded her damages in the sum of £13,100, including her membership fees, which came to the breath-taking sum of £12,600. I just love the first paragraph of Judge Parkes’ judgment:

“Gertrude Stein quipped that whoever said money can’t buy happiness didn’t know where to shop. This case is about a woman looking for romantic happiness who says she was tricked into shopping in the wrong place, paying a large sum to a dating agency which, she says, made promises but failed to produce the goods.”

If you wish you can read the full judgment, all 271 paragraphs of it, here.

And finally, no sooner did I mention here that the Government had not yet made a decision upon whether to implement the Law Commission’s recommendations regarding reform of the law on enforcement of financial orders, than the Government decides that it “will bring forward non-legislative measures to improve the enforcement system, whilst considering further reform in the future.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but hopefully it is a step in the right direction.

Have a good weekend.

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, with his content now supporting our divorce lawyers and child custody lawyers

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