Advocacy in Family Proceedings: Theory and Practice restates the theory and established rules of good advocacy and refines them in the light of the specific needs of family lawyers. This fully updated new edition, reflecting all recent developments, explores the writing on this subject generally and then applies it to the various types of family proceedings, including applications under the Children Act 1989 (private and public law); adoption; child abduction; ancillary relief; domestic violence; same sex families and appeals.
It provides an invaluable guide for the student and the beginning advocate toward understanding the theory and practice of presenting cases to judges involving issues surrounding the breakdown of families. No area of law rests so firmly on the advice and evidence of experts, and the author therefore provides a background of the research available in each of the most contentious areas of family law.
"equally at home on the shelf of an established practitioner ... or a general advocate faced for the first time with a more specialised subset of work ... highly recommended"
New Law Journal
Review from previous edition
Writing about the family justice system in England and Wales in 2012 is a bit like describing an earthquake while the tectonic plates are still shifting. Have we stopped moving yet? Not likely. The Coalition government is set to enact the Crime and Courts Bill 2012 (cl 17), which will establish a single family court for England and Wales. This court, we are informed, will be a ‘judicially managed’ court. ‘The allocation of work, its case management, case progression and the measurement of the success of that judicial process will be for the judiciary,’ Mr Justice Ryder informed us in March 2012. Judges will be expected to use a Case Management System that will be in use throughout England and Wales by the end of 2013. It will not be a ‘quasi-inquisitorial’ system, Ryder J tells us: it will instead in some instances become ‘fully inquisitorial.’ New practice directions will be issued that will further instruct us regarding the correct approach to disputes after family breakdown.
And this new court, according to Ryder J, will have a ‘new emphasis’ on evidence-based good practice. These ‘pathways’ in public law cases will show how cases should be managed and contained within the 26-week limits set out for public law cases. This will require a reduction in the number of experts instructed, and will require a reduction in the number of contested hearings.
Private law applications after the breakdown of families will also be restructured, though a complete understanding of the changed legal landscape must await further government decisions. But it is clear that litigants will be expected to submit to some form of mediation prior to having their matter heard at court. At present (31 December 2012), litigants seeking orders under the Children Act 1989 or the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 are ‘expected’ to see a mediator, but it is not yet mandatory. The mediators must now sign forms for litigants, indicating whether the litigants were willing to submit. And exceptions will no doubt be carved out for domestic violence or for ex parte applications in financial matters.
Where does a manual regarding advocacy techniques fit into this ever-changing landscape? It is my contention, as the following several hundred pages make clear, that so long as there are legal disputes there will be a need for effective legal advocacy. This does not mean that advocacy techniques should not evolve. Of course it is right that the advocate must advise the client (as the best advocates always have) that it is ordinarily in the client’s best interest to avoid litigation, to look to settle on reasonable terms, to seek the best possible agreement that will permit the litigants to get on with their respective lives after the breakdown of the family unit. But reasonable people will continue to disagree. They will continue to seek legal advice regarding how to achieve what they perceive to be in their best interests. Those disputes will continue to be placed before judges. And good advocates will continue to be necessary to enable those judges to reach just results.
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