In a week of big international news headlines including impending doom from North Korea and the death of Margaret Thatcher, the world of family law cases has been particularly quiet as the court closures over the Easter break catch up with us.
The only offering I have for you is from the Court of Appeal in Re AH (Sexual Abuse Findings: Appeal)  EWCA Civ 282,  FLR forthcoming, which concerned an appeal on the basis of expert evidence of a consultant paediatrician who relied on guidance from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health which the stepfather claimed resulted in her providing a partial opinion as to the likelihood that he had sexually abused the child. The appeal was dismissed and the Court of Appeal, comprising of Thorpe, Rafferty and Kitchin LJJ found that the expert report had been a model example of how such tasks ought to be undertaken and that the question of professional partiality should have been put to the expert during the course of the trial.
Next week looks to be more promising as I have just received a copy of the judgment of Ryder J in JG v Legal Services Commission  EWHC 804 (Admin),  FLR forthcoming, which discusses the extent to which the LSC should fund a single jointly instructed expert report where only one party, namely, the child, is publically funded.
For those of you who can’t wait for next week, the highlights of the judgment appear to be: the court must recognise the ‘necessity’ of the evidence in the first place; the court should be satisfied that the parties have complied with their responsibilities before deciding whether to grant permission for evidence from a single joint expert; the court should order equal apportionment of costs of a single joint expert save in exceptional circumstances; in certain cases prior approval will be necessary, in which case the principles in A Local Authority v DS  EWHC 1442 (Fam),  FLR forthcoming should be applied; the child’s timetable should never have to wait for a funding decision. A closer look at this decision will be provided next week and will also be covered by one of our professional support lawyers very shortly...