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09 December 2014

Family Law Roundup

UNICEF declares 2014 a devastating year for children

With 15 million children caught up in major conflicts, UNICEF declares 2014 a devastating year for children

The year 2014 has been one of horror, fear and despair for millions of children, as worsening conflicts across the world saw them exposed to extreme violence and its consequences, forcibly recruited and deliberately targeted by warring groups, UNICEF said today. Yet many crises no longer capture the world’s attention, warned the children’s agency.

'This has been a devastating year for millions of children,' said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. 'Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves. Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality.'

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Family Justice Review panel publishes interim report

The family justice system is 'too complicated', says panel

The Family Justice Review panel, chaired by David Norgrove, has delivered an interim report to the Ministry of Justice.

The panel has concluded that the family justice system needs significant reform to tackle delays and ensure that children and families get the service they deserve.

The panel has recommended a package of proposals aimed at improving children's and families' experience of the system. A public consultation on these proposals is now underway.

During a year of speaking to children, parents and the dedicated people who work in family justice, the panel has found the system is not working to the full benefit of the children it is designed to help. This, it says, is because the system is too complicated, with overlapping structures and a lack of shared goals and objectives. The panel found this was causing harmful delays for vulnerable children and adults.

Read the full article here 

Couple launch legal challenge against ban on heterosexual civil partnerships

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan launch judicial review after trying to hold ceremony at town hall and being turned away

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan are about to become parents. They wish to formalise their union. Both describe themselves as feminists and reject traditional, “patriarchal” marriage.
This month the couple, both academics, have launched a legal challenge against the ban on members of the opposite sex entering into civil partnerships – a development the prime minister, David Cameron, has condemned as likely to undermine the institution of marriage.

Their test case is believed to be the first attempt in the British courts to make partnerships available to heterosexual people. The 2004 Civil Partnership Act stipulates that only same-sex couples are eligible. The couple believe it is unfair to prevent them enjoying the status.

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'We’re all in this together,' says incoming Bar Council Chairman in Inaugural Address

Incoming Chairman of the Bar Council, Alistair MacDonald QC, has pledged he will 'continue the excellent work' started by predecessors Maura McGowan QC and outgoing Chairman, Nicholas Lavender QC, in preventing further cuts to legal aid, in order to defend a 'proud and independent profession'.

In his inaugural speech, addressing a meeting of the Bar Council in Holborn, the Chairman-Elect touched upon the themes likely to dominate his term in the top-job. Unsurprisingly for someone practising as a criminal barrister, cuts to criminal legal aid and the effects upon justice since the implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) remain priorities, as well as the way in which the Bar is structured.

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