Becket Chambers

Where there’s a Will …

I often deal with cases arising from the lack of reasonable financial provision for a spouse or children under a Will, or where a person has died without completing a valid Will. I hope this article will help people avoid some of the most common problems in those situations. While the starting point is that Continue reading

Article on Costs

The possibility of a detailed assessment of their costs under Section 70 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (the “Act”) is a possibility that all solicitors should be alive too. It is likely to be encountered in some sense during the course of a career and clients are becoming increasingly aware of the option. When a Continue reading

Permission to Appeal & Barder in Lockdown Plus Children Arbitration is the Answer

Two short but troubling issues in troubled times: Can the FR Appeal Court hold a one-sided oral permission hearing without formal notice to the Respondent? Does the pandemic/lockdown amount to a Barder event? Plus Arbitration simply is the answer, especially for children. Permission to Appeal Hearing I have recently had to consider whether it is Continue reading

Promises, promises: what is a landlord to do? Looking at the Supreme Court ruling in Duval v 11-13 Randolph Crescent

Summary Is a landlord of a block of flats entitled to grant a licence to a lessee to carry out work which would breach an absolute covenant contained in a lease of their flat, where the leases of other flats in the same building require them to enforce covenants at the request of a lessee Continue reading

Residential Service Charge – Time for Reform?

Introduction On Halloween in 2003, the Service Charge (Consultation Requirements) (England) Regulations 2003 (the “Regulations”) came into force, amending section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (“LTA 1985”). This amendment set a financial limit to works carried out on a residential building, beyond which a landlord would have to consult with tenants. That Continue reading

The freedom of belief and parental alienation in child arrangements orders: a slippery slope

Summary The recent judgment in S (Parental Alienation: Cult), Re [2020] EWCA Civ 568 provides a useful summary of the law concerning freedom of belief and parental alienation in contested child arrangements orders. The father (F) appealed the refusal of his application for a variation of a child arrangements order amidst continuing concern over the Continue reading

Child Arrangement Orders and Coronavirus – I’m not seeing my child what can I do ?

From the moment that the Government announced the possibility of lockdown measures being imposed, lawyers were inundated with questions about whether and how Child Arrangements Orders should be implemented over this period. As lockdown continues one of our local CAFCASS officers has told practitioners that many parents involved with the service have been able to Continue reading

PSED – An Update

Previously, I have considered the Public Sector Equality Duty (“PSED”) and possession proceedings in my article entitled “PSED, Cuckooing and Possession”. Whilst I appreciate that possession proceedings may not be at the forefront in the current climate (and for more information on this, please see Paul Tapsell’s article regarding possession proceedings and the Coronavirus Act Continue reading

Love In the Time of Corona.

 The landscape of February is gone, and legal professionals are all now working in previously unknown circumstances. The daily routine has vanished, we are for the most part not physically attending court, and traditional ways of doing things have changed. Recently I was in a far flung county court with a solicitor colleague as we Continue reading

Interim Separation During Proceedings

C (A Child) (Interim Separation) [2019] EWCA Civ 1998 (Judgement of Lord Justice, Peter Jackson) _______________________________________________________________________________________ We have all experienced cases, especially when representing a young mother who has been placed with the child, often a first child and a baby, in a mother and baby foster placement and that placement has broken down for Continue reading

Private Family Law: Children Summary of Recent Case Law October to December 2019

CAFCASS A County Council v Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) [2019] EWHC 2369 (Fam) Re S [2020] EWHC 217 (Fam) Care proceedings which had originated from a private law dispute between the mother and the fathers of her children. The mother alleged that the fathers had abused their children during contact. Continue reading

Preparing for A Mediation Appointment

Preparing for A Mediation Appointment As time progresses mediation is being utilised more and more as a result of the significant benefits it provides to parties, including the ability to resolve disputes more quickly and less expensively than court proceedings. Tactics and advocacy utilised during mediation appointments vary greatly between representatives and indeed different disputes Continue reading

Parental Alienation: An Example Where The Alienator Succeeds and Guidelines As to How to Minimise it Happening.

The case of Re A (Children) (Parental Alienation) 2019 EWFC  demonstrates clearly the shortcomings of the Family Court to ensure that all children, wherever possible, enjoy a relationship with both of his or her parents. The position of the courts with regard to ordering no direct contact with the absent parent, is that it is Continue reading

Mediation – a way forward?

Why, you may be wondering, would a barrister with 28 years’ experience of civil litigation and the adversarial process want to talk about mediation? Surely the whole purpose of barristers, and indeed lawyers, is to let people have their day in court and to demolish the “other side”? The fact of the matter is that Continue reading

Private Family Law: Children Summary of Recent Case Law – October to December 2019

CAFCASS A County Council v Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass)                                                                                                [2019] EWHC 2369 (Fam) Keehan J Judgment: 20th September 2019 This was a public law case which may have relevance in private law proceedings. As part of the threshold grounds, the LA sought a finding that the father had sexually Continue reading

Muslim Non-Marriages

Hall v Jagger; Akhter v Khan: void, voidable and non- marriages. In 1999, Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger separated and in a move heralding a long and acrimonious legal battle, Jagger sensationally released a public statement saying that he would be contesting Jerry Hall’s petition for divorce on the grounds that he and Jerry Hall Continue reading

Issues of consent in fact-find hearing

In December 2019 Ms. Justice Russell DBE heard an appeal from a fact-finding hearing that took place in private law Children Act proceedings at the Central Family Court in London in the summer of 2019. Her judgement was given in January 2020 and is reported as JH v. MF [2020] EWHC 86 (Fam). The case Continue reading

Vulnerable witness, domestic abuse and special measures- the importance of ensuring a fair trial.

This article explores the approach a court should take in relation to vulnerable witnesses, in particular those that have experienced domestic abuse. The recent case of H v F [2020] EWHC 86 (Fam) demonstrates that a case will be successful on appeal if the correct procedures are not complied with. Re H v F [2020] Continue reading

Tick the box at your peril: a warning for lawyers completing the Pension Sharing Annex form P1

Financial remedy lawyers are familiar with the Form P1 Pension Sharing Annex under section 24B of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. It records the instructions for how to share a party’s pension and who is to bear the cost, and also contains the parties’ details. It is approved by the court and sent to pension Continue reading

‘Neglect in childhood causes children to have smaller brains’

Early childhood deprivation through neglect and adversity is associated with alterations in the brain structure as adults, despite environmental enrichment in intervening years, according to an article published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) on 7.1.2020. The research, carried out by King’s College London, examined the MRI data Continue reading

Parental alienation- the duty to identify at an early stage or risk getting it wrong.

This article explores the recent judgment in Re A (Children) (Parental alienation) [2019] EWFC. Re A is a long, drawn out case involving a mother’s repeated inability to promote the children’s relationship with their father. Professionals concluded that she had at best “allowed the demonisation of the father and, at worst, actively encouraged this demonisation Continue reading

The President of the Family Division’s New Guidance on Reporting in the Family Courts (3rd October 2019)

Faced with the competing claims of transparency and privacy, free speech and family life, family law will always incline towards the latter. Its first instincts are protective, guarding the intimacies and lives of its own subject families and, particularly, its children.[1] First and foremost, family proceedings are and remain private matters. This fundamental principle holds Continue reading

Fixed Costs in Civil Proceedings

The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) provide for fixed costs in certain elements of civil proceedings, including Small Claims, Fast Track hearings, ‘Stage 3’ hearings and possession claims. This means that any costs applied for that are not those within the fixed costs regimes are unlikely to be awarded by the Court, unless certain factors apply. Continue reading

Parental alienation – are the Courts more willing to intervene?

As family practitioners we all frequently deal with cases where parental alienation and/or implacable hostility is alleged. The recent case of Re H (Parental Alienation) [2019] EWHC 2723 (Fam) is one of the recent cases where the Courts are prepared to change residence. This case is also interesting because the subject child was 12, which Continue reading

ALI V BARBOSA[2019] EWHC 2776 (Fam)– Void or Voidable. Maintaining the discretion of the family court and the importance of the circumstances of the case

In October 2019, Mrs Justice Lieven DBE considered an application by a husband that the wife’s divorce proceedings, and the decree absolute, should be set aside for breaches in relation to service of the proceedings. The case gives an insight into when the courts may consider proceedings for divorce void or voidable and is a Continue reading

Section 4 Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975: Standstill Agreements

Earlier this year the conflicting authorities of Bhusate v Patel [2019] EWHC 470 (Ch) and Cowan v Foreman and others [2019] EWHC 349 (Fam) cast doubt on the use of standstill agreements in respect of claims intended to be brought under section 2 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Act”). Continue reading

Some Further Thoughts on Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Further to my previous article on pre-nuptial agreements, I have recently had cause to consider the overlap between the various possible vitiating factors, particularly undue influence and legal advice. Following on from Lord Phillip’s consideration in Radmacher of the vitiating or weight reducing factors of duress, fraud, misrepresentation, undue pressure and unworthy conduct such as Continue reading

Part 36 Offers Explained

This article explains the key points about Part 36 offers and provides top tips for avoiding common pitfalls. Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules (“Part 36”) is a self-contained set of rules designed to encourage both the Claimant and Defendant to settle the claim outside of court. Any offer made under Part 36 is Continue reading

Transfer of residence should not be seen as a “last resort” even in the absence of a finding of “parental alienation” or “intractable hostility”.

In my article written in April 2018 “Not “Parental Alienation”? but heading towards intractability? What can be done” I discussed some of the challenges facing the courts where adult conflict threatens to harm the relationship between children and their parents. Two cases decided in 2019 consider further the question of transfer of residence in cases Continue reading