About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Everything you ever wanted to know about .. East London Family Court by David Jockelson

Directions to East London Family Court October 2015 David Jockelson

The address is 6th and 7th Floors, 11 Westferry Circus

Entrance in Columbus Courtyard E14 4HD but it is not easy to find on first visit.

These directions deal with travel first by DLR (Docklands Light Railway), then Tube, bus, car and boat. Comments on access for wheelchair and buggy at the end + other information

DLR (Docklands Light Railway) You can go to Westferry Circus and walk along the main road. A drier and less polluted route is going to Canary Wharf Station on the DLR …. and then finding the right exit from the shopping area.

When you come down from the platforms, you find yourself in a sort of concourse with a large star style decoration on the floor and a small departures board above.

The exits do not have numbers but the one you need has a large Platform 6 just to the right of it. To the right of that is a Paddy Power.

The entrance is labelled rather inconspicuously “Entrance to Cabot Place West." See below - the entrance is straight ahead in this picture

Go though those doors straight ahead. Go round the side of a food outlet Birley and then on past shops, Moleskin, Zara, Space NK, Crabtree & Evelyn etc, until out the doors at the end - into the air- Cabot Place West - you are then opposite steps up to a fountain in Cabot Square.

Go up there straight ahead, past the fountain and you will then be in West India Avenue, a wide dual carriageway with gardens down the middle. Go down that road for about three minutes

You might spot a small signpost on a pole on the pavement which is opposite a pedestrian turning called Columbus Courtyard. There is a fairly obvious sign saying 11 Westferry Circus on the wall. A few metres into that, on the left is an inconspicuous entrance to the court with a steel court sign on the wall. The door is labelled encouragingly Firefighters Access. Keep Clear. If you come to Tom's Kitchen - you have gone a bit too far.

Below is the view off the main road and the court is along on the left with two small plants outside it.

Security staff will check your bags and you will have to go through a scanner so you need to take all metal objects out of your pockets and put them in the trays provided.

You will not be allowed to take into court any large umbrella, cigarette lighters, any sprays like perfume, any glass bottles, metal cans or any plastic drink bottles that have been opened - ie they need to have intact seals. Security staff will take them, and give a receipt for collecting on the way out. They will also tell you which court you are in. You will need to take the lifts to the 6th or 7th floors.

By tube to Canary Wharf on the Jubilee Line.

Make sure you come out of the exit with signs to DLR. Go up these escalators or use the lifts.

When you come up the escalators you are in an open area with water ahead of you and to your right a plaza with restaurants and stalls and a large office block rising up ahead.

Turn right into the plaza and go up the steps ahead - or there is a lift to the left of the steps - and you will come out onto South Colonnade. Turn left and follow that along until you come to Cabot Place - the large square with the fountains and waterfalls. Keep going ahead, round the outside of the square until you come to the dual carriageway of West India Avenue. Cross at the crossing to the other side and turn left away from Cabot Square. The court is then 100 metres on the right - see above for final directions and picture.

Buses going to Canary Wharf include - from the North West - the 135 which starts at Moorfields hospital and goes through Liverpool St, Commercial Road and Limehouse. D3 Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, Shadwell, Wapping, Limehouse. 277 Highbury and Islington, Hackney Central, Mile End. D7 Mile End. From the East - The D8 starts at Stratford, Bow Church, East India Dock Rd, Poplar High St. The D7, D3 and 135 approach Canary Wharf from the Isle of Dogs which lies to the South. http://canarywharf.com/getting-here/bus/

If that is too small …. and you are looking at this online go to this page and print out a larger version.

Access for wheelchairs and buggies: There are powered doors and lifts in the Tube stations and the DLR (which has level access platforms). From the DLR lifts you need to make sure you go to the bottom level. You will come out on South Colonnade where there are dropped kerbs but cross the road and stay on the left side skirting Cabot Square which does not have full dropped kerbs. From the tube, coming out onto the open plaza - there is a lift somewhat tucked away beside the steps up to South Colonnade.

Car: Canary Wharf is outside the congestion zone. There is parking near the court. Entrance in West India Avenue. Use E14 4HD for sat nav. Up to 4 hours - £10. Up to 6 hours - £15.50

Riverboat: It takes 30 minutes from Waterloo to Canary Wharf and 29 minutes from Woolwich to Canary Wharf.

Key stops include Westminster, Embankment, Blackfriars, Bankside, London Bridge and Tower Piers to the west and Greenland, Masthouse and Greenwich to the east. A shuttle service from London Bridge to Canary Wharf (13 minutes) also operates every 10 minutes in the peak hours.

In addition to the regular services a shuttle service operates between Surrey Quays and Canary Wharf. Oyster cards are now accepted for Pay-As-You-Go payments on river bus services.

The Canary Wharf pier is located close to Westferry Circus. Come out of the court and turn right up West India Avenue - up to the roundabout, across to the other side and the pier is there. £7.15 to Embankment.

Riverboat site for Thames clippers

Cycling. On your own bike: The blurb says there are over 1,000 free cycle parking spaces and 405 secure paid for ones. If you come or want to go by Santander Bikes – there is a stand outside the tube exit and another at Fisherman Walk West - see here for map of sites

Photocopying: There is an excellent and very helpful branch of Color Co in South Colonnade. Andrea, Mark and Claud. To reach it - from DLR follow the instructions above and then when you emerge into the fresh air of Cabot Square turn left along the pavement, cross South Colonnade and it is back a few metres to your left. From the tube you will pass it on the way along South Colonnade. You may find it convenient to e-mail in your documents for printing so you can pick them up on the way to court. canary.wharf@color.co.uk Note American spelling of color. Not very cheap 14p per sheet. However they have just introduced a £15 minimum charge which amounts to about 90 pages.

So …there is also rather less professional photocopying available at Rymans in the shopping centre - off Platform 2 of DLR. They will also receive incoming emails with documents. It’s up to you to ensure confidentiality but they assure me they are aware of security and will delete as soon as possible and keep documents safe. £2 cover charge Canarywharf@rymanservices.co.uk Obviously they have stationary and are next to a Waterstones and a Maplins which can be useful. The Post office does do copying but you have to join a usually lengthy queue and hand over documents which they copy.

Food: There are many restaurants in Canary wharf - some no doubt very good and very expensive. For the rest of us…. PrĂȘt a Manger is two minutes from the court. Come out, turn left, then angle left across the courtyard and you will see it.

If you prefer something different and a bit cheaper - go past PrĂȘt, turn right along the row of shops and there is a Benebene shop - sandwiches, warm dishes including veggie, halal, jerk chicken. Tom's Kitchen Deli is more expensive but some say is better. Cheapest of all is Tesco's - there are a few but the closest to the court is the one which you can access from platform 6 at the DLR station.

See Map below. Red Box is the court. Red Arrow is route from the DLR. Black Arrow is the route from the Tube.

Email addresses

PDs and other documents required to be filed by PD 27A: eastlondonfamilypd@judiciary.gsi.gov.uk

NB. The subject line of the email should contain the case number, date of hearing and name of allocated Judge. No other correspondence should be sent to this email address.

Non-compliance should be reported to: eastlondonnoncomp@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

NB. The name of the case, case number and name of the allocated Judge should appear in the subject line. No other correspondence should be sent to this email address.

General correspondence and non-pd documents: eastlondonfamilyenquiries@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Legal Summaries for your delectation - interim care, final care, care vs supervision, relocation

Over on Children In Law I have posted some new articles / case law summaries on:

Interim Care / Removal

Final Care Orders

Care Orders vs Supervision Orders Case Law

Relocation Case Library

The first two might be quite handy as basic submissions in care cases. Feel free to borrow the content. Let me know if there is anything you think should be added.

With grateful thanks to my new pupil, Amy Slingo, who knocked them into shape!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Family Law Links & Resources

I have recently revamped my list of links and resources about UK Family Law by topic onto a blogging platform at Family Law Webworld.

Topics include addiction, experts, mental health, medical, parenting after separation, disorders & litigation, online dictionaries.

The full topic list is set out on the Children in Law links page

I am always on the lookout for sites which practitioners, Mackenzie friends or family members have find useful so let me know if you think there is a good one I am missing. I am already reviewing the list again and will post again when it is updated so now is a good time to suggest additional links.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Fact Finding: Legal Summary by DJ Simmonds & HHJ Hess

I am very grateful to DJ Simmonds at the Central Family Court who has collaborated with HHJ Hess to produce a handy summary of the law on fact finding hearings and they have kindly agreed that I can share it.

I have published it on my Children In Law site articles page - click on the link to Fact Finding under the (completely inaccurate) picture with gavel and it should download as a word file.

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has any extra cases which they think should be included.

Thanks again to DJ Simmonds & HHJ Hess.

Friday, 24 July 2015


I have become involved with the Transparency Project spearheaded by Lucy Reed, Sarah Phillimore and a number of others.

The main website for the Project is here

Sarah Phillimore is also one of the writers behind the Child Protection Resource and her excellent guide to what can and cannot be disclosed about cases involving children is here

Friday, 1 May 2015

It is much easier to become a father than to be one

Guess what? Welfare is paramount

E-R (A Child) [2015] EWCA Civ 405

I accept Miss Renton's submission that the judge wrongly conducted his analysis of T's best interests on the basis that there is a presumption in law in favour of a natural parent. On this basis alone the appeal must be allowed.

In support of her submission that an application of the welfare principle without an elevated presumption in favour of the father would have led the court to conclude that T should live with the Appellants with extensive contact to the father,

In her grounds of appeal Miss Renton argued that the facts 'militated strongly in favour of the status quo', referring the court to a number of authorities predating Re G and Re B. In particular she relies on Re G (a minor - custody) [1992] 2 FCR 279 and a passage in which Lord Justice Balcombe said:

I would agree that this is not a matter of presumption in the legal sense but, nevertheless, when dealing with the custody of small children undoubtedly, as a working rule, one does not disturb the status quo unless there is a good reason to do so.

In my judgment this observation should be read against the backdrop of the views expressed by Baroness Hale in relation to natural parents in Re G and Lord Hope in Re B. If one translates the term of art "status quo" into something more meaningful by relating it directly to the welfare of a child, it simply refers in the broadest sense, to the current living arrangements of a child. For T, the status quo is that place where she is living and settled, in a familiar environment, cared for by people upon whom she can rely and who are currently offering her the love, security and consistency she needs to enable her to cope with the loss of her mother. The fact that a child of five is in such an environment and has been so for some time, will inevitably be a significant feature of the case and a matter of great importance when assessing the likely effect on her of a change in her circumstances.

In the same way that the fact that a person is a natural parent does not in itself create a presumption in favour of that person in the proceedings, neither does (as Balcombe LJ observed), the fact that a child has been living with a party for a significant period of time; each are factors of significance which will be taken into account and given appropriate weight by a court when determining the best interests of a child Whether any such factor is determinative of a particular case will depend on the unique facts of that case.

A further unusual feature in this case, and one which may trap the unwary into regarding it as a matter of elevated importance, is the fact that pursuant to s5(3) Children Act 1989 (CA 1989), the mother made SJH and her husband testamentary Guardians in the hope that in doing so she would ensure that T was cared for by them after her death.
By s5(6) CA 1989 a person appointed as a child's guardian has parental responsibility. However where as here, the child has a surviving parent with parental responsibility and there is no child arrangements order directing that T is to live with the named guardian, (here SJH and her husband), the appointment of SJH and her husband as T's guardians does not take effect for so long as the father is alive and has parental responsibility ( s5(7) & (8) CA 1989). It follows therefore that SJH derives her parental responsibility in respect of T from the order made by the judge in August 2014, and not by virtue of her having been named by the mother as testamentary guardian.

Where there is a dispute between potential carers following the death of a parent with parental responsibility, the court will in the absence of an agreement, make a decision as to that child's future living arrangements which arrangements will often be reflected in a s8 Children Act: Child Arrangements Order. The making of the decision by the court will be governed by the welfare principle informed by the application of the welfare checklist. The fact that a dying parent has expressed by the appointment of a testamentary guardian, her strong desire that her child should live with a particular person following her death, does not generate a preferential position in favour of the proposed testamentary guardian; rather, the fact of the appointment is another significant matter which will be taken into account and given appropriate weight by a court when determining the best interests of the child.

In the present case,the fact that there is a natural father wishing to care for his child, that the status quo may appear at first blush to point to T remaining where she is and that the mother's dying wish was for T to stay with SJH, are each features of this case. Those features make the case sensitive, difficult and distressing, but none of them, individually or together, affect the essential approach of the court which is, and is always, that T's welfare is paramount. As Lord Hope said in Re B:

"In common with all other factors bearing on what is in the best interest of the child, it must be examined for its potential to fulfil that aim."

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Sign your name across my face

You have been warned. Again. By the President. In Re W (A Child) [2015] EWCA Civ 403

Care proceedings followed. A paternal aunt who lives in Belgium (I shall refer to her as Aunt A) put herself forward as a carer for Je. A viability assessment was prepared. The copy in the bundle before us was neither signed nor dated. We were told that it was dated 10 April 2014 and had been prepared by a social worker who I shall refer to as SWH and approved by her team manager who I shall refer to as TMA.

I interpose to observe that this is yet another example of practice which is not merely unacceptable for reasons which ought to be obvious – the court needs to know both the author(s) and the date of such a document – but is in fact in plain breach of PD27A, para 4.2.

This is not the first time I have had occasion to complain about this in recent months: see Re L (A Child) [2015] EWFC 15. I said this (para 14):

"PD27A para 4.2 states that:

"All statements, affidavits, care plans, experts' reports and other reports included in the bundle must be copies of originals which have been signed and dated."

This requirement, there for good reason, is too frequently ignored. For a recent, and egregious, example, see Re A (A Child) [2015] EWFC 11."

I continued (para 23):

"This endemic failure of the professions to comply with PD27A must end, and it must end now. Fifteen years of default are enough … The professions need to recognise that enough is enough. It is no use the court continuing feebly to issue empty threats. From now on delinquents can expect to find themselves subject to effective sanctions".

I spelt out what those sanctions might involve. Here we merely identify the delinquent local authority as .....