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Kara Swift
Kara Swift
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Government Family Policy

Date:6 NOV 2006

In a speech to the conference, Opening up the family courts: an open or closed case?" on 30 October 2006, organised by the organisation Care and Health, Harriet Harman MP spoke once more about listening to children in open and accountable family courts. She agreed with Nicholas Crichton, District Judge at the Inner London Family Proceedings Court about judges speaking to children as outlined in his article, "Listening to Children" published in October Family Law (at [2006] Fam Law 849) where he wrote, 'At the end of the day I do not believe that courts should be making such important decisions in children's lives unless they are prepared to look them in the eye and explain why.' The Solicitor General also encouraged the use of mediation and said that the changes in the structure of the legal profession that the Government was introducing following the Clementi Review would mean that family solicitors would be able to work in partnership with professionally trained family mediators. Also, when the Children and Adoption Act 2006 came into force it would ensure that everyone who applied to the family courts for contact with a child (not in care) would have had to consider mediation. The Act also gave the court the power to direct the couple to a meeting about mediation before the case went any further. For the full news story see December [2006] Fam Law.