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Edward Bennett
Edward Bennett
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Book review – Family Law Case Library (Children) by Charles Prest and His Honour Judge Stephen Wildblood QC
Date:7 OCT 2015

Occasionally, a book comes along that excites you, not just for its content, but for its potential to change the landscape of family law for the better. Family Law Case Library (Children) is one of those books

Co-author Charles Prest is a solicitor turned barrister specialising in children law and is the Director of Legal Services at Cafcass. As such, he works mainly on difficult and unusual cases involving children and topics such as circumcision, end of life and adoption. Charles also lectures on behalf of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal Society of Medicine.

His Honour Judge Stephen Wildblood QC has a reputation within the family sector as a reformer and an advocate of support for litigants in person. Stephen has been outspoken about poor social work practice in fostering and adoption cases and oversees a number of transparency-focused initiatives to make the Family Court more accessible and user friendly.

Family Law Case Library is primarily designed to be a quick reference guide on matters affecting children and, although nothing is truly quick in the book (it is a hefty 1,136 pages long), its structure is impeccable. Written as a law reporting compendium, featuring core precedent and key extracts from judgments, the book is divided into sections that mimic the order in which the content appears in legislation or how it might typically arise during the life of a case. As a result, the content has an organic feel and flows well.

The writing is clear and simple, and care has been taken to clarify areas of law and process that might cause confusion. If you read carefully, you can even spot clarifications of terms that may not be readily understood without knowing their background. These embellishments are thoughtful and, far from being unnecessary waffle, are neat explanations that add to the book’s value.

While the book is intended to be used by practitioners, it would make an invaluable companion for litigants in person. The current cost of the book, however, would prevent most families who are attempting to navigate the complex landscape of the courts from being able to access this information. This gave rise to a thought, and a proposal for Jordans and any other publisher listening…

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Family Law Case Library (Children)
Family Law Case Library (Children)
Allows you to find quickly the relevant authority...
Living in a digital world, and the book does come with a CD so that you can access all of its content without building unwanted muscle tone on your way to the court house, an online law library where members of the public could go to ‘borrow’ books, or extracts from books for a set length of time, either for a monthly fee or one-off fee per book or extract could not only alleviate a great deal of the anxiety and confusion (and perhaps also delay) present in cases with litigants in person, but it could also revolutionise the way law is shared, developed and understood.

An internet library of this nature, with books like Prest and Wildblood’s, could change the way the world views the practice of law, and make the law truly accessible to all.

It is a bold proposal, but given that the authors of this book are forward thinking, we feel His Honour Judge Wildblood and Prest may see the immense benefits such a library would offer, and the immeasurable good it would do for the profession, and the parents and children who find themselves unable to vest themselves with the full protection of the law.

Such a library would be different in format and style to current practitioners’ online libraries, which are excellent and invaluable in their own right, and would offer a service tailored to the thousands of families making their way through the court system on their own. An exciting project, which Jordans would be excellently placed to pioneer and whose online literature, which might include the superb Family Law Case Library for Children, would alleviate so many of the struggles seen inside the family justice system today.

So, come on Jordans, how about it?

Family Law Case Library (Children) by Charles Prest and His Honour Judge Stephen Wildblood QC, is available in paperback (with CD-ROM) or as an ePDF.

Published by Family Law.

ISBN: 978 1 78473 144 1