Elizabeth Taylor & Phillip Taylor MBE
Richmond Green Chambers
If you are a family law practitioner confronted with the venom vituperation, confusion, controversy and heartache that all too often emanates from family law disputes, you need - urgently - the evergreen, ever authoritative, ever reliable 'Red Book’ by your side to assist you in your travail. We refer, of course, to The Family Court Practice 2017, up to date and fresh off the press from LexisNexis for its 25th anniversary issue.
Its editorial team is truly top drawer. Heading the team of some 13 expert contributors – mainly members of the judiciary – are the three distinguished editors who include the Justice of the Supreme Court, Nicholas Wilson (Lord Wilson of Culworth)… His Honour Judge Anthony Cleary…and Lady Justice Black.
The end result has become almost universally regarded now (throughout its 25 year history of annual publication) as ‘the Bible of family law’. Definitely the family law advocate’s friend, it is reputed to be found positioned in front of every family law judge in every family law court.
The beauty and utility of the book lies with the detailed and directly useful commentaries which follow the procedural rules and statutes contained in the relevant sections throughout, explaining what they mean and elaborating further with authorities. The precision and thoroughness of this feature make The Red Book a real time saver for advocates and judges alike.
Readers will realise, however, that they must familiarise themselves with the best ways to use this volume of more than 3,000 pages. Fortunately, with a logically structured work of reference of this size, the 'getting-used-to' process is quite straightforward. Obviously, there is an extensive index and both a contents summary and detailed list of contents which informs you that the book is divided into six parts followed by five tables, namely of statutes, statutory instruments, cases and practice directions, together with a table of CPR, FPR and Supreme Court Practice Directions.
The six ‘parts' or sections of the book provide procedural guides, statutes, procedure rules, statutory instruments and practice guidance. Part VI provides European material. Impossible to forget that we are not yet in the post-European Union world quite yet.
Speaking of which, it is worth quoting general editor Anthony Cleary’s comment on Brexit. ‘Contrary to some public opinion,’ he remarks in the foreword, ‘European jurisprudence is not confined to sovereignty or to the curvature of bananas…. It has been gently woven into UK statute and case law. If we are to throw out the bathwater, we must take great care to observe what might go with it, let alone what might replace it. As yet, one might be forgiven for the impression that family lawyers are getting on with the business of representing and protecting the most vulnerable in our society, and have little time, let alone the appetite, for looking into the unknown.’
Confronting the challenge of representing and protecting society’s most vulnerable, the truly professional family lawyer will inevitably want to acquire The Red Book in this latest edition. It is perfectly fair to refer to this convenient single volume as the most authoritative statement on family law and therefore indispensable to the efficient and informed practitioner.