John Hemming MP has posted on his blog a series of videos from a meeting he recently held of the Justice for Families campaign. In the video he & some volunteers talk in particular about appealing cases both within the UK and to Europe and give a number of practical tips both about appealing and about the conduct of family cases in general. As usual it includes criticisms of the current system (some valid in my opinion and some rather more questionable) but equally as usual some very good points: the group are particularly concerned to promote an argument for the obtaining of second opinions in family cases, especially in respect of psychological and psychiatric messages.
The group also highlight the need to check out the experts' qualifications about this and you might like to refresh your memory of my earlier post picking up on research which shows that 3 out of 4 lawyers do not do this routinely.
John Hemming himself suggests that lawyers have a lot to answer for and that they are put into a position where they are set against the parents they are supposed to represent at an early stage and I will post more about this when I have had a chance to talk it through with him. I can see that there is something very uncomfortable about our role when it comes to considerations about appealing. At that point we are often expected effectively to act as judge & jury in considering the merits of an appeal (in respect of which the Court of Appeal has so frequently reminded us the bar of the hurdle is set very high) bearing in mind our duty to the public fund as well as our duty to the client. Like the Judge at first instance who will routinely refuse leave to appeal, it may be difficult for the advocate at first instance to see what may have gone wrong in the case, particularly with regard to their own conduct of it.
See the new website for Justice for Families which is still under construction.
The link is to John Hemming's blog rather than the individual posts so after a while it may be difficult to find. It was posted on 5th March 2009. On the same day he also posted a batch of videos of his 2 hour interview with Theo Chalmers about 'forced adoption'. I have not yet listened to all of it but certainly in the first section he makes a good point about the adverse effect of constant reorganisation of local authority departments. He also makes an allegation that the lawyer in a particular case conspired with the social worker to undermine his client's case and suggests that this may have happened in other cases & revives his concerns about a conspiracy to send children to Jersey on abuse tours. He also discusses the case going to Europe about mental incapacity and the OS (this is in video 4 & 5). This interview can also be found on You Tube by searching for edge media & john hemming.
On 28 February John Hemming posted the video recording of the meeting of agony aunts & journalists in the HOC and there is a link from Family Law Week .
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