Irwin Mitchell Represented Interveners Families Need Fathers In Case
The Court of Appeal handed down its judgement yesterday (30 March) on four Children Act appeals where the cases involved allegations of domestic abuse.
Families Need Fathers, represented by leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell and by Sarah Morgan QC, Tom Wilson and Lucy Maxwell of 1GC Family Law, had been invited by the Court of Appeal to apply to intervene in the proceedings concerning the application of PD12J in children cases where there are allegations of domestic abuse, particularly coercive and controlling behaviour and rape.
The judgment details how while the guidance for judges on domestic abuse cases as set out in PD12J is sound, the appeals at the centre of the case showed different interpretation and implementation was causing issues.
The President of the Family Division, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Holroyde concluded “each of these appeals are examples in differing ways of the importance of the modern judiciary having a proper understanding of the nature of domestic abuse and in particular of controlling and coercive behaviour”.
As a result, three of the four appeals have succeeded and there is new guidance included in the judgment on fact-finding hearings for a number of issues concerning interpretation of the PD12J.
Expert Opinion“The Court of Appeal’s judgment shows a modern and adaptive approach to cases where there are allegations of domestic abuse, and reinforces the need for the court and practitioners to give careful consideration and application of PD12J.
“It is clear from the judgment that there is much work still to be done on in this area and we can expect to hear more from The Harm Panel Report and the President of the Family Division’s Private Law Working Group.” Jenna Lucas - Partner
A representative for Families Need Fathers said: “We are pleased that the court recognises the need for those facing allegations to be aware of the case they must meet at an early stage, as we must not lose sight of the fact family courts are there to determine how children’s welfare is best met when parents are in disagreement.
“It is noteworthy that all of those making allegations in these cases had the benefit of Legal Aid whereas all of those defending the allegations were represented pro bono. If the system is to operate fairly for the benefit of the children it serves, this imbalance must be redressed.
“We were grateful to be invited to intervene in these proceedings and would welcome the opportunity to be involved with further work in this area, including the production of The Harm Report and the Private Law Working Group, referred to in the Court of Appeal’s judgment. We urge them to put a focus on early intervention and appropriate resourcing and procedures in the family justice system.”