Welcome to another week.
Family law body Resolution has revised its guide to working with Litigants in Person, and there are a number of interesting suggestions.
For example, in child protection cases, the guidance suggests that aggressive or inflammatory language in lawyers’ communications both written and verbal should be set aside in favour of polite and considerate communications.
The guide also asks lawyers to think carefully about whether a C1A form – which is used to set down allegations of harm and domestic violence – needs to be submitted.
The guidance aims to try to preserve any goodwill between the parents where possible by trying to reduce friction which can be caused by aggressive form filing (rather than legitimate filing).
Our question this week, is this: what would you like to see in to the guidance?
Ian Josephs said:
1) Litigants in person should never be criticised by judges for failing or even refusing to hire solicitors or barristers.
2)Parents representing themselves should be given sight of the position statement and other general evidence of the local authority well in advance and never on or just before the day of the hearing.
3)Parents who ARE represented should never be told to shut up and sit down when they try to talk.The judge should explain that they WILL be allowed to put their point of view at a later time that day indicated to them by the judge.
4)Parents who wish to be represented in court by a friend or lay advisor (McKenzie friend) should automatically be allowed to do so and that person provided their cv showed them to be respectable and responsible should have audience in the court;
5)No babies or young children should ever be taken into care or placed for adoption unless both parents have been convicted of crimes against children or if charged with crimes should regain those children if found not guilty or charges dropped.
6) In Scotland and some English courts reports from social workers are freely given to lawyers to take away and study but parents are expected to read these long 40+ page reports without leaving the court and this discrimination should cease.
7)Judges who finish a family court case saying “leave to appeal denied” should stop deceiving parents into believing they cannot appeal and should at the same time tell them they can apply for permission to appeal.
8)Judges should make it clear that it is the responsibility of the local authority to make enquiries to find posssible care by relatives or close friends of parents who cannot keep their children;Relatives should never be disqualified because they disagree with the children being taken or with the conclusions of the court;
9) Family and close friends of parents appearing in family courts should at the invitation of those parents be admitted to the court and not refused as at present.
10)Parents should be allowed to call as witnesses children of an age when they can understand what a court is for and what a judge does (7 or more perhaps?)