SAHCA is the only solicitor association which represents higher court advocates. We strive to represent solicitors advocates’ views and deliver relevant training. Many family solicitors undertake their own advocacy, and because of the audience rights we have in the family courts, some may have chosen not to apply for Higher Audience Rights Civil. However, SAHCA values our family members and you do not have to hold Higher Audience Rights to join. We continue to strive to represent family solicitors with the issues we face in our practice area. Members receive regular newsletters with relevant content and articles. These can include articles about family law matters, and family law case law reviews (see links below). SAHCA is an invaluable resource for keeping up to date with advocacy related issues. We lobby on your behalf about issues which are relevant to you and provide discounted advocacy training, including in children and family law.
It is an exciting times in children and family law. Our President, Sir Andrew McFarlane, detailed in his View from the President’s Chambers: May 2019, ( https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/View-from-the-Presidents-Chambers-May-2019.pdf ) that he is driving a campaign to improve family practitioners’ well-being. This has been advanced by His Honour Judge Tolson QC in his draft guidance “Well-being in the Central Family Court”. All of this is positive news for family practitioners who for years have burned the midnight oil preparing for cases and being bombarded by emails at anti-social hours. The initiative aims to stamp out this constant pressure for family solicitors. Also, the court reform program is now well underway and is due to be completed in 2020. This is a £1 billion scheme to achieve, amongst other things, paperless courts with paperless bundles. Again another improvement which should streamline and enhance our working practices. These are the types of issues which we advance on behalf our members. You can find regular updates on our initiatives on this page.
Legal Updates and Relevant Cases
Covid 19 Guidance for Family Courts
Re P is the first reported decision by the President about adjourning final hearings during the Covid 19 pandemic. It is essential reading for all family law practitioners.
The President of the Family Division has issued this (hyperlink for the attached document) guidance re hearing during the Covid 19 outbreak.
Covid-19 Private and Public Law Interim procedures for your information as agreed by the Designated Family Judges at Central Family Court, East London Family Court and West Family Court.
Her Honour Judge Sybil Thomas, a senior circuit judge, for Birmingham’s family court issues Well Being Protocol:
The Family Justice Observatory has published a literature review and a case-law review looking at the removal of babies at birth. Copies of the documents are attached. The Family Justice Observatory has said
‘In light of the issues raised and the limited national guidance or training available for professionals, the Nuffield FJO will develop the first national, evidence-informed good practice guidelines for professionals involved in the process of removing newborn babies from their mother at birth for child protection reasons..
The guidelines will be developed over the next 18 months by researchers at Lancaster University and the Rees Centre at the University of Oxford, led by Professor Karen Broadhurst. The team will be working closely with health and social work professionals and birth parents.
The guidelines will then be piloted in eight local authorities and health trusts during a six-month period and used in at least 30 child protection cases involving newborn babies. The ambition is for the guidelines to be adopted and developed into guidance by local authorities, health authorities, the police and the judiciary throughout England and Wales, and for local authorities and the judiciary to understand why so many infants are being taken into care and to explore measures to prevent this.’
The President of the Family Division has issued guidance on reporting in the family court https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/president-of-the-family-division-guidance-as-to-reporting-in-the-family-courts/
The Separate Representation of Children: Shiva Ancliffe reviews the law relating to the determination of whether a child should be separately represented in proceedings