Stowe comment: Naming and shaming in custody battles

It was with interest that I noted a piece in The Times today about a High Court judge ordering that a wealthy mother is identified after she refused to return her daughters from the Ukraine to their home in London.

This latest High Court case is interesting as it evidences the court’s increasing frustration in cases where parties disobey court orders

There has been talk of the court now relaxing the strict rules on children cases preventing the publication of the names of the parties in cases where it is clear that a party in the proceedings has deliberately disobeyed or frustrated a court order.

The court does have powers to enforce an order where it is breached but these are limited to financial penalties, unpaid work in the community or in very serious cases the imposition of a prison sentence.

This latest decision clearly shows that the courts are prepared to flex their muscles more robustly in cases where orders are breached.

I am interested in how this one plays out.

Mark Christie
Senior Partner at the Stowe Family Law, Harrogate office.

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Author: Mark Christie

A week in family law: Divorce in Ireland, burn-out, video hearings and more

As I reported here, the new President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane has published his first ‘View from the President’s Chambers’. For those who don’t know, the ‘View’ was created by the previous President Sir James Munby, and is a regular update on the work of the President, and on news relating to the family justice system generally. In the View Sir Andrew said that his number one priority is the need to address the unprecedented and unsustainable volume of cases in the system caused by the high volume of new children cases over recent years. He said that this, along with a substantial rise in the proportion of litigants in person resulting from the legal aid cuts, has led to huge workload pressure, which is affecting the well‐being of social workers, lawyers, judges and court staff. As a result, he said, “some corners may have to be cut and some time‐limits exceeded”, as “to attempt to do otherwise in a situation where the pressure is sustained, remorseless and relentless, is to risk the burn‐out of key and valued individuals in a system which is already sparely manned in terms of lawyers, court staff and judges.” As I said in my post: “I find it quite remarkable that the man at the very top of the family justice system is advocating the cutting of corners. Surely, such a situation would have been unthinkable only a few short years ago?”

Moving on, as I also reported the Association of Lawyers for Children has published a report looking at the views and experiences of advocates on practices in 61 settlement conferences, which have been piloted by the Ministry of Justice since 2017. As I explained, settlement conferences are intended to help parties in children cases to resolve matters by agreement, with the assistance of the judge. However, the report’s findings do not support a roll out of the settlement conference procedure in its current form. The reasons for this included variations in approach by judges and courts, concerns as to whether the procedure was fair, pressure on lay parties to agree to a suggested order, and the power imbalance between lay parties and the judge, by virtue of the latter’s status and position. Further, many of the advocates felt that a similar result could have been obtained within the existing court procedures, if only more time was allowed.

Another post I wrote this week related to the recent Court IT meltdown. Hot on the heels of that, we received news that the Family Courts are to test video hearings. The news came as the judiciary published the outcomes of its Judicial Ways of Working consultation, which received responses from or on behalf of 10,000 judges, panel members and magistrates, setting out their views on proposals to modernise and reform the courts. The President of the Family Division summarised the position in relation to the Family Court, saying that whilst some judges expressed concerns about the appropriateness of fully video hearings (‘FVH’), some felt that they could be used for uncontested cases. Accordingly, he said, a test of FVH for first directions applications in financial remedy cases had been approved, “given that they are, in the main, principally dedicated to case management using pre-prepared documents”. Sir Andrew made clear, however, that currently there was no specific proposal to expand FVH in the family jurisdiction beyond this test, adding: “Specifically, and subject to the evaluation of the test, it is felt that FVH will not normally be appropriate for contested cases involving the giving of oral evidence, multi-party cases, cases concerning litigants in person, and/or cases concerning children.” Whilst that is reassuring, another piece of news that appeared after I wrote my post is not: internal documents have apparently revealed that the Ministry of Justice knew its computer systems were “obsolete” and “out of support” long before the network went into meltdown. The reason? Long-term underfunding, of course. The prospect of video hearings on obsolete equipment does not inspire confidence…

And finally, it seems that the idea of divorce reform is not limited to this country. On Tuesday the Irish Government approved the holding of a referendum in May to amend the Constitutional provisions there on divorce. At present, the Irish Constitution only permits divorce when spouses have lived apart for four of the previous five years. The referendum will ask the Irish people to approve an amendment to the Constitution to remove that minimum living apart period. If the referendum is passed, the Irish Government will bring forward a Bill to amend the law to reduce the minimum period to two years during the previous three years. Making the announcement Irish Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan said: “Ireland has one of the lowest divorce rates in Europe and that is to be welcomed.  Sadly, however, some marriages do break down irreconcilably, causing immense sadness and stress for all concerned. The Government wishes to ensure that the process for obtaining a divorce is fair, dignified and humane and allows both parties to move forward with their lives within a reasonable timeframe.” Sounds like a very sensible step in the right direction – let us hope the Irish people agree.

Have a good weekend.

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Author: John Bolch

Husband fails in appeal against costs order, despite winning case

The general rule as to costs in financial remedy proceedings is that the court will not make an order requiring one party to pay the costs of the other party. The court may, however, depart from this rule where it considers it appropriate to do so on the basis of one party’s conduct before or during the proceedings. Unlike in other types of civil proceedings, there is no rule that the unsuccessful party should pay the successful party’s costs, but one would still expect most costs orders to be made against the unsuccessful party.

That, however, was not the case in Lemmens v Barbara Brouwers, decided by the Court of Appeal last November. Lemmens concerned a husband’s application for the downward variation of a maintenance order. His application was successful (the amount of the maintenance order was reduced, because his financial circumstances had changed), but he was still ordered to pay £30,000 towards the wife’s costs. The husband appealed against this costs order, to the Court of Appeal.

So if the husband won his case, why was the costs order made? The answer is that the judge had found that, right up to the commencement of the hearing, the husband had failed to explain his financial situation to the wife or her advisers. His Form E financial statement was found to be “deliberately misleading”. As a result, the wife incurred significant additional costs, as she sought to understand how the husband justified continuing with his application, despite the fact that his income appeared not to have altered since before the original maintenance order had been made.

The husband advanced two grounds for his appeal. Firstly, that the process was unjust due to serious procedural irregularities, including that the wife filed her Form H costs estimate late, and that the court should not have summarily assessed the costs or his liability for costs, but should have provided for a detailed assessment. Secondly, that the judge’s determination was flawed – he had provided information regarding his finances in a timely fashion, and even if his disclosure was insufficient, the order made by the judge bore no relationship to the actual additional costs caused by this.

Giving the leading judgment of the Court of Appeal Lord Justice Moylan dealt first with the alleged procedural irregularities. He found, quite simply, that the husband had not been prejudiced by the late filing of the wife’s Form H, and that the judge was entitled to decide to assess the costs summarily.

As to the exercise by the judge of his discretion to make the costs order, Lord Justice Moylan found that the judge was clearly entitled to decide that the sum of £30,000 reflected the extent to which the husband’s conduct had increased the wife’s costs. The husband had referred to the effect of his Form E as ‘de minimis’, i.e. too trivial to be taken into account. Lord Justice Moylan disagreed. He said:

“I do not find it surprising that the judge attributed significant weight to the fact that the husband’s Form E was deliberately misleading. This cannot be lightly dismissed as de minimis. Even if, as the husband submits, the inaccuracy was corrected within a relatively short space of time, the failure to give full and frank disclosure at the outset of proceedings can have continuing consequences. The judge further identified that the husband had not provided the wife with a “fully intelligible explanation” until the final hearing. These are findings which the husband cannot sensibly dislodge.”

The judge, he said, had sufficiently explained his summary assessment of the costs. None of the husband’s arguments persuaded him that the judge’s decision had exceeded his discretion. Accordingly, the appeal should be dismissed.

Lord Justice David Richards gave a concurring judgment.

An interesting little case, and a warning to litigants (particularly those who, like the husband in this case, are not legally represented) of the need to provide the court and the other party with full, clear and honest information, in a timely fashion. Here, the husband’s failure to do so turned a ‘victory’ into something more akin to a ‘defeat’.

You can read the full judgment here.

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Author: John Bolch

Ultrasonic Mosquito Repellers

A mosquito

The convenient, pocket-sized, battery-powered hoax

I like to think that I’m a reasonably open-minded person—neither credulous nor rigidly skeptical. When a friend of mine told me he saw ghosts, I didn’t try to convince him he was hallucinating; I believe that he had some sort of genuine experience for which the terminology and imagery of “ghosts” provided an appropriate description. I would be reluctant to say that what he saw were really spirits of the departed, but then, things are frequently not what they seem; lacking solid evidence one way or another, there’s no point in being dogmatic.

There are some things, though, that lots of people persist in believing in the face of serious counterevidence. I am speaking, of course, of the decades-old meme that you can keep mosquitos away by using a little electronic gadget that emits ultrasonic sound. Let me get straight to the point: they don’t work. They have been scientifically proven not to work again and again over a period of quite a few years. Yet somehow manufacturers keep making them and people keep buying them, because the claim that they should work seems so plausible (and because they get an astonishing number of fake 5-star reviews on Amazon). As a public service, then, I’d like to tell you the truth about ultrasonic mosquito repellers.

Animal Magnetism

I have always been popular with the girls—female mosquitoes, that is. I don’t know if it’s my charming demeanor or the irresistible smell of Earl Grey tea on my breath, but somehow, if there is a single mosquito buzzing around a crowd of a hundred people, it always manages to find me. My skin is quite sensitive to mosquito bites, too; they turn into big, ugly, insanely itchy welts that don’t go away for days. Fortunately, I live in an area where there are relatively few mosquitoes, but when I’m in, say, Costa Rica in the winter or Saskatchewan in the summer, mosquito avoidance is always a top priority. If I’m staying put, tactics like mosquito netting, citronella candles, and mosquito coils work well, but when I’m moving around there’s no good choice but to cover myself with some sort of mosquito repellent. DEET-based repellents, while effective, are greasy, smell horrible, and supposedly find their way into your bloodstream quite quickly, where they can’t be especially healthy. Newer, more natural alternatives are safer and less offensive to the senses, but it’s still no fun to smear the stuff all over my exposed skin (and keep reapplying every hour or so).

So one summer, I bought myself an ultrasonic mosquito repeller. The package claimed this tiny, battery-powered device was “safe and effective,” and I figured it was worth finding out if I could get relief without all the chemicals. When I took the device out of its package, the first thing I noticed was that it had not only an on-off switch but also a frequency dial. I thought that was odd; wasn’t it supposed to be some precise frequency that drove mosquitoes away? But perhaps I was just thinking about the device in a technologically unsophisticated way.

I took the repeller outside and went to an area that I knew to be popular with mosquitoes. I flipped the switch, and within a few seconds a mosquito approached me, hovering about a foot away. I slowly turned the dial from one frequency extreme to the other; the mosquito was unfazed. I thought it was perhaps a question of range, so I held the device as close as I could to the mosquito. Even an inch away, it had no effect. Finally the mosquito landed on the little black box in my hand and I decided the experiment had been definitively concluded.

Sales Pitch

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and numerous universities have performed tests to determine if or how well various ultrasonic repellers work. In most cases, the tests showed no difference between using the device and using no protection; in the least successful experiments, use of ultrasonic devices increased the number of bites. And the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has clamped down on manufacturers making unsupported claims about these products. So what makes people think they should work, and why don’t they?

Some animals are sensitive to sounds pitched higher than the range of human hearing; ultrasonic whistles are used when training dogs and circus animals, for example, and bats use echolocation to navigate and hunt. The theory behind ultrasonic mosquito repellers is that there is some frequency, or range of frequencies, that mosquitoes can hear—and find distasteful enough to stay away from. For example, some manufacturers claim their devices mimic the sound made by a male mosquito’s wings, the theory being that females who have already mated would try to stay away from them (though it turns out they do not). Others say their devices emit sounds at the same frequency as the wing beats of dragonflies or bats, the mosquitoes’ natural enemies. Unfortunately, the sounds made by dragonflies and bats have no effect on mosquito behavior in the real world. They don’t prevent mosquitoes from becoming lunch for their predators, and they don’t protect you from becoming dinner for the mosquitoes.

Ultrasonic mosquito repellers do one thing remarkably well, however: survive. They have maintained their uncanny ability to transfer money from the pockets of consumers into manufacturers’ bank accounts in the face of terrible odds. Alas, this is a meme that deserves to die. Save your money and rent a copy of The Sixth Sense or The Mosquito Coast.

Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Interesting Thing of the Day on July 27, 2003, and again in a slightly revised form on September 5, 2004.

Image credit: Public Domain Files

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Author: Joe Kissell

National Baked Alaska Day

A baked Alaska

Baked Alaska is one of a small class of magical desserts that are both hot and cold. To make a baked Alaska, you put a mound of hard ice cream on top of some sponge cake, cover the whole apparatus with a layer of meringue, and either pop it in an extremely hot oven very briefly, or use a kitchen blowtorch to caramelize the meringue. Either way, the ice cream stays cold and solid because the meringue serves as an insulator for the short period of time heat is applied. (Mexican fried ice cream gives you a similar effect with a different technique, and there are a few other clever ways of combining hot and cold in a single dish.) If you need to recover from Eat Brussels Sprouts Day, eating a baked Alaska is a dandy antidote.

Image credit: Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr

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Author: Joe Kissell

Easy Terrific Gluten Free Vegan Pizza Recipe

I made pizza with my kids a few times recently, and my kids have loved the recipe I’ve been using. Today when we went to make pizza, I decided to have Ike practice reading the recipe I was using, and he noted, as we went through the recipe, that I wasn’t actually following the recipe I had written. “You should rewrite the recipe the way you actually make it, so that other people can also have

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Author: Penniless Parenting

How to Save Money While Getting Your Prom Dress

Prom is a special time, but the dresses for it can be especially expensive. Here’s some ideas from a reader as to how to keep the costs down.

Prom night is usually very intense and emotional moments in a high school student’s life. It is that moment that they conclude basic education and step up to the real world as adults. For these, it is very important for this transition moment to be made

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Author: Penniless Parenting

Stowe guests: Armed forces pensions and divorce

In this instalment of Stowe guests, we are joined by Josh Richardson, a Chartered Financial Planner from Informed Financial Planning.

Informed Financial Planning is focused on helping their customers make the most of their money today, tomorrow and the future including pensions.

Today, Josh offers his expert advice on how divorce can potentially impact on armed forces pensions.

Public sector Defined Benefit (DB) schemes are complex and seemingly ever-changing beasts. These schemes form an essential, valuable asset for many individuals and they will provide an important element of income security for members in retirement. From the NHS Pension to the Local Government Pension Scheme rule changes have been common across the past four decades or more with each change being an elaborate cost reducing and financial stability providing exercise. As a direct result of this however, an entangled web of differing retirement ages, definitions of pensionable salary and accumulation rates has formed across schemes.

It is not surprising therefore, that members rarely comprehend how their pension schemes operate or how their benefits build up. More importantly, dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership often raises significant questions regarding how individuals’ pension benefits will be impacted. In this series of blog entries we aim to provide an overview of the main public sector DB schemes including the pension schemes for the Armed Forces, NHS and Teachers and the changes members may see if a divorce occurs.

These articles will provide a summary of the main rules applicable to the larger schemes but they will not necessarily cover individual circumstances. It is recommended that members speak to their respective scheme administrators, or an independent financial adviser, to identify which rules apply to their pension benefits.

The Armed Forces Pension Scheme

The Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) represents one of the more complex DB schemes in the public sector. It is made up of three separate rule books, with one or more of these being applied to members’ schemes depending on when they joined. In addition further benefits for members who leave after set periods of service and funds to help service members re-adjust into civilian life, are available and sit alongside individuals’ pensions.

Depending on the date on which an individual commenced their service, their benefits will be governed within one or more of the following sections of the AFPS:

  • Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975;
  • Armed Forces Pension Scheme ’05; or
  • The Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2015.

Each of these follow different rules, which are summarised in the following sections. As written above, you should check with Veterans UK, who administer these schemes, to identify which rules apply to your membership.

Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975 (AFPS 75)

Please note, only a minority of Armed Forces employees remain in this section. Most are members of AFPS ’05 or the AFPS 2015.

Full Career Maximum Pension

AFPS 75 provides members with a full career maximum pension, based on their final salary, at the age of 55 if members retire with:

  • 34 years of service from age 21 (for Officers); or
  • 37 years of service from age 18 (for other ranks)

The income received will increase each year in line with inflation. A tax free lump sum, of three times the member’s pension, will also be paid.

Immediate Pension

Members of the AFPS 75 are permitted to leave the Armed Forces before age 55. If chosen, an immediate pension will be paid based on their service plus a tax free lump sum. This is providing the member has completed at least:

  • 16 years of qualifying service from age 21 (Officers); or
  • 22 years of qualifying service from age 18 (other ranks)

The pension received will remain the same each year until the member gets to age 55 at which point they will receive the increases they have missed out on plus annual inflationary increases going forward. This is similar to the early departure payments discussed later.

Deferred Pension

If members do not qualify for an Immediate Pension, they may be entitled to a deferred pension. For pension benefits built up before 6th April 2006, members can receive their pension at age 60. Pension benefits built up after this date will be paid at age 65. This may lead to individuals receiving part of their income, which then increases after 5 years’ time. Members can request their benefits, which are payable at age 65, are paid early but an ‘early retirement’ reduction will apply.

Armed Forces Pension Scheme ’05 (AFPS 05)

You will be a member of the APFS 05 if you commenced employment with the Armed Forces between 6th April 2005 and 1st April 2015.

Normal Pension

Within this scheme you will be entitled to a guaranteed pension from age 65. The pension you receive is based on your ‘final salary’ and the years you have worked for the Armed Forces. For each year you work you will earn 1/70th of your final pensionable earnings. For example:

If your final salary is £30,000 after completing 25 years’ service your annual pension would be calculated as follows:

£30,000 x 25 x 1/70 = £10,714 per year of pension

In addition members will receive a tax free lump sum equivalent to three times their pension. In the above example this would equate to £32,142.

Members can request to take their pension early, before age 65, however there will be a reduction to the income they receive. This reduction reflects the fact that a member’s pension would be paid for longer than normally expected.

Early Departure Payments

To reflect the fact that members in the AFPS cannot receive pension benefits when they retire before 65, as they could in the AFPS 75, they are entitled to an Early Departure Payment (EDP).

To be entitled to this members must be aged between 40 and 55 and have served for a minimum of 18 years. A tax free lump sum equivalent to three times the member’s preserved pension and a taxable income worth not less than 50% of their annual preserved pension will be payable.

This pension will then increase to 75% of the preserved pension once the member reaches age 55 and will also be increased to take into account of inflationary rises from the date the EDP commenced.

Once the member reaches age 65, the EDP will cease and will be replaced by their full pension from the AFPS 05. This income will increase each year in line with inflation.

The Armed Forces Pension 2015 (AFPS 15)

For those in employment after 1st April 2015, members will hold benefits in AFPS 15. Whilst this remains a guaranteed Defined Benefit scheme, benefits are accrued under a different system, called Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE).

Pension – Income

Each year the scheme adds an amount equal to 1/47th of your annual pensionable salary, to each member’s ‘pension pot’. This pot starts to accumulate from the member’s first day of paid service and is carried forward into each year where it grows slightly to ensure that it tracks inflation and maintains its value.

After two years’ service members will be entitled to a deferred pension. This pension will increase annually in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and will be paid when the member reaches their State Pension age.

If however, the member works up until age 60 they will be able to claim their pension immediately.

Pension – Lump Sum

Under AFPS 15 members are not automatically entitled to a tax free lump sum.

In order to receive a lump sum members will need to create a lump sum by ‘surrendering’ part of their annual pension through a process called ‘commutation’. The commutation rate is fixed; for every £1 of pension income a member gives up, a lump sum of £12 will be provided.


A member is entitled to a pension of £10,000 per annum. They have the option to surrender some of this income for a lump sum.

If the member wishes to receive a £10,000 lump sum, they would have to surrender £833.33 per annum. This would reduce their annual income payments to £9,166.67.

Early Departure Payments

AFPS 15 also provides for Early Departure Payments (EDP). Under AFPS 15 however, members must serve for a minimum of 20 years and be aged between 40 and 60. Under an EDP members will receive a lump sum of 2.25 times their deferred pension plus a monthly income of 34% of their annual deferred pension.

Once members reach age 55, their monthly payments will increase in line with CPI. The CPI increases will also be backdated to when the member left the Armed Forces. At State Pension age the member’s pension will increase to the full deferred pension they are entitled to.

Source: The Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2015, Your Pension Scheme Explained

Divorce Options

When it comes to your AFPS the courts have a number of options, including the following:

  • Making no order, deeming you and your spouse to be equal in your financial provision;
  • Allowing you to use offsetting, whereby you utilise other assets or property to ‘buy out’ your spouse from your AFPS benefits;
  • Granting an Attachment Order, whereby your spouse would receive payments from the AFPS, as a lump sum or income, when you receive your pension; or
  • Granting a Pension Sharing Order, whereby a share of your pension passes to your spouse and they become a member of the AFPS in their own right.

All of the above, except for an attachment order, would provide for a ‘clean break’ from your spouse, which is usually preferred.

Starting on Page 5 of the ‘AFP Guide on Divorce and Dissolution of Civil Partnerships’, frequently asked questions are answered regarding the benefits of each order.

One of the most important aspects to note on this guide is in relation to Early Departure Payments. These do not count as ‘pension income’ prior to members being entitled to their full pension. In light of this, these will not be included in any pension sharing or attachment orders. Please note, this is not the case for the Immediate Pension, which is payable under AFPS ’75.

Get in touch

To get in touch with Informed Financial planning, you can visit their website here

Note – Info gained from:

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Author: Stowe Family Law

Report findings do not support roll out of Settlement Conferences in children cases

Back in July 2017 the Ministry of Justice (‘MoJ’) issued guidance in relation to the piloting of ‘settlement conferences’ in children cases. Settlement conferences are/were another idea to help resolve children disputes. As the guidance explained:

“In a settlement conference, a family judge adopts an inquisitorial approach in order to encourage cooperation between parties with a view to helping them identify solutions and reaching an agreement that is in their children’s best interests.”

It went on:

“Settlement conferences take place with the consent of all the parties. The judge hearing a settlement conference will be different to that of the judge that may hear the final hearing. They will be specially trained in facilitating settlement conferences.

“The judge will not impose any duress or pressure on any parties. Settlement implies that all parties will be in agreement to fully resolve some or all issues.”

A protocol in relation to the conferences explained that:

“The role of the Settlement Conference is to facilitate discussion of the issues, clarify information, analyse issues and promote understanding between the parties with a view to helping to identify solutions (including solutions which may be addressed by the consent of the parties and not necessarily within the Court process).

“It is the parties and not the Judge who determines whether there is agreement on any of the issues and whether an order will flow following such agreement.”

Settlement Conferences have been tried in both public law and private law disputes (as I understand it, far more in the former), but for the purpose of this post I will concentrate on the latter, i.e. child arrangements cases, as that is what most readers of this blog are likely to be interested in.

Before I go any further I should point out that the procedure for dealing with child arrangement cases already contains two steps that could be confused with settlement conferences. The first step is the First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (‘FHDRA’), which “provides an opportunity for the parties to be helped to an understanding of the issues which divide them, and to reach agreement.” The second step is the Dispute Resolution Appointment (‘DRA’), which is essentially a last effort to see if the case can be resolved without the need for a final hearing. I will come back to these, or at least to the DRA, in a moment.

The Association of Lawyers for Children has just published a report looking at the views and experiences of advocates on practices in 61 settlement conferences in the initial five pilot areas identified by the MoJ. The report was by Dr Julia Brophy, an independent senior researcher in family justice issues. The report’s findings do not support a roll out of the settlement conference procedure in its current form. The reasons for this are complex, but included variations in approach by judges and courts, concerns as to whether the procedure was fair, pressure on lay parties to agree to a suggested order, and the power imbalance between lay parties and the judge, by virtue of the latter’s status and position.

Many of the advocates felt that a similar result could have been obtained by a properly conducted Issues Resolution Hearing (‘IRH’ – the public law equivalent of the DRA), but restrictions on the time allocated to the IRH mean it is now largely ‘administrative’ with little/no time for judicially led discussion, negotiation and party reflection. I suspect that something similar can be said for the DRA.

The report concludes by suggesting ways forward, for example to identify appropriate cases (e.g. private law disputes), and develop a procedure with safeguards suited to those cases. Another suggestion (if I read it correctly) is to enhance the IRH, to make it more like a settlement conference. Again, I suspect that the same idea could be applied to the DRA.

All in all, the report may not be a glowing endorsement for settlement conferences, but the pilot was clearly a useful exercise in the continuing search for new and better ways of resolving children disputes, and no doubt we will be seeing more of some of the ideas behind the conferences in the future.

You can read the full report here.

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Author: John Bolch