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The Cafcass High Court team has taken over the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention cases previously handled by the team at the Principal Registry, High Holborn. This was part of a wider London restructuring of Cafcass teams. Nowadays, whenever a High Court judge requires a report from a family court adviser (FCA) in a Hague Convention case, often where a child objects to a return order, the request is directed to the Cafcass High Court Team at the Cafcass national office. Sometimes these cases will result in a r 9.5 FPR 1991 appointment as guardian ad litem (r 16.4 children's guardian under the Family Procedure Rules 2010 from 6 April 2011). One of the Cafcass Legal lawyers will then be allocated as the child's lawyer.
There are currently six lawyers in the Cafcass legal team including the Director of Legal Services, Charlotte McCafferty. A close working relationship is maintained between the lawyers and the practitioners in the High Court team, very much like the professional relationship between the children's guardians in other teams and their external lawyers in care cases.
Much of the Cafcass High Court team work has a foreign element. The new Hague Convention reporting work therefore sits well with the existing responsibilities of the team. Other categories of case work, in which the Cafcass High Court team and Cafcass Legal are appointed include medical treatment cases (although numbers have declined in recent years) and other exceptionally complex High Court work.
To read the rest of this article, see April  Family Law journal.
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