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PSL Essential Update – Madonna’s March

Date:1 APR 2016

We’ve been bracing ourselves for a deluge of FPR changes, guidance, draft standard orders and the like this month, in the run up to year end.  There’s been a bit, but nowhere near a deluge, a few bits and pieces to catch up on.  Below is a summary of some of the key developments in family law this month.

Material girl

Madonna and Guy Richie’s High Court proceedings about their son Rocco were in the news this month.  Two judgments were published in relation to the Hague Convention proceedings initiated by Madonna when Rocco refused to return to New York after visiting his dad in London.  The first judgment was about whether Rocco should be joined as a party to the proceedings.  The judge decided that he should.  The judgment contains an analysis of the case law in this area and of the factors that the court should have regard to under FPR 2010, r 16.2 and paras 7.1 and 7.2 of PD16A.  Also, the judge really really thought that Rocco was a ‘mature, articulate and reflective’ young man – and said so four times. The second judgment was about whether, after Rocco had been joined as a party, Madonna could withdraw her Hague Convention application. Madonna would still be seeking a return order, but through the New York courts, where proceedings were already ongoing. There was disagreement between the parties as to whether Madonna needed permission to withdraw the proceedings.  The judge held that FPR 2010, r 29.4 did apply to Hague Convention proceedings, and that, accordingly, the permission of the court was required to withdraw such proceedings.  The judge then gave Madonna permission to withdraw the proceedings and gave permission for the judgments to be published without anonymisation given the extraordinary amount of information already in the public domain worldwide

Justify my...fees

Big  news this month was the sudden increase in the fee for applying for a divorce, from £410 to £550.  News broke on Thursday 17 March that the higher fees would be effective on the following Monday.  To say people weren’t best pleased would be an understatement. Resolution branded the divorce fee hike ‘scandalous’ and many others joined them to raise their concerns about the impact of the increase on separating couples.

Sorry – changes to  the FPR 2010

They’ve been tinkering  with the FPR again.  In summary, the changes are:

Rule 4.4 of the FPR is amended to clarify that written evidence must be taken into account if the court is considering striking out a statement of case.

There are two new parts for the FPR. New Parts 39 and 40, which set out the procedure to be followed in respect of applications for attachment of earnings orders, charging orders, stop orders and stop notices.

There are some further amendments to the FPR which are consequential upon the introduction of the new Parts 39 and 40 of the FPR.

An out of date cross-reference in the FPR has been corrected.

Rule 9 makes transitional provisions, as the changes don’t come into effect until 6 April 2016.

A chance to Vogue – Family law awards nominations open

It’s that time of year again! Do you always try to instruct your favourite barrister because they write a cracking skeleton, charm the pants off your client (not literally) and are amazing on their feet? How about the clerks at your favourite chambers?  Do they always find a way to help you out, are they listing magicians, can you rely on them completely? When a brief comes in from a particular solicitor are you relieved because they are thorough, know their stuff and will have given the client spot on advice? Fed up with Londoners/Northerners/Southerners/Westerners getting all the glory? Nominate them!  You have to be in it to win it, as they say.  It’s not just a canny marketing exercise only entered into by big firms.  Really it’s not. The family law profession is filled with talented, hard working people who totally and utterly devote themselves to ensuring their clients get the best service possible and to whom access to justice is paramount. You don’t need me to tell you about all the doom and gloom currently facing the profession – wouldn’t it be amazing if someone  recognised all the hard work you put in despite this – how brilliant would that be?  So how about doing a good deed and nominate  someone you think deserves it, and maybe karma will nominate you back.  Plus there’s going to be a disco this year – everyone knows family lawyers like a good boogie.

For more details visit the Family Law Awards website www.familylawawards.com.

Papa don’t preach 

The case of Re L (Case Management: Wasted  Costs) [2016] EWFC B8 was a thoroughly depressing read.  It was supposed to be a fact-finding hearing  in relation to injuries sustained by a 14-month-old boy.  In the event though, the hearing had to be adjourned because vital disclosure (tape recordings of police interviews and medical photographs) were not disclosed until the weekend before the hearing. Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence in the family courts. HHJ Bellamy was fairly angry about it, saying, ‘court time is a precious resource. The court can ill-afford contested hearings being vacated because of the failure of one or more of the parties to comply adequately with the obligations placed upon them by the rules and by case management orders made by the court’.  He found that basically everyone was to blame for this failure and made wasted costs orders against, well, everyone.  This was not well received by the family law profession, with many pointing out the pointlessness of making such an order and that the pressures faced by government cuts to the courts were also being felt by local authority legal teams and legal aid lawyers.

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Family Law Awards 2022
Family Law Awards 2022
Entries open!


A brief run down of some of the cases published this month.


FK  v ML (Child's Objections) [2016] EWHC 517 (Fam) – A  return order was made for the 13 year old to return to Ireland  notwithstanding his objections.

C  v V [2016] EWHC 599 (Fam) – A  return order was made for the two children to return to Spain to their mother’s  care.

Re D (Children) (Child Abduction: Practice) [2016] EWHC 504 (Fam) – The President granted the father permission to withdraw Hague Convention proceedings.

KL v Poland (App No  30813/14) – The European Court of Human Rights unanimously held that there had been a violation of Art 8 of the European Convention.

Re W (Children) (Abduction Striking Out) [2015] EWHC 4002 (Fam) – The mother's application for the father's Hague Convention proceedings to be struck out was refused.

Children –  public law

PD  v AD and Others [2015] EWHC 4103 (Fam) – Declarations were granted  preventing the adoptive parents from receiving information about the  16-year-old boy. The 16-year-old boy was placed with foster carers under s 20 of the Children Act 1989. He had been adopted at the age of 6 but when he decided to change his identity to be male as a result of gender dysphoria the adoptive parents found it difficult to come to terms with the decision.

A  v London Borough of Enfield [2016] EWHC 567 (Admin) – Declaratory relief was granted to the  18-year-old girl reflecting that the local authority had failed in its  assessment of the girl and that she should now be treated as a former relevant  child for the purposes of s 35 of the Children (Living Care) Act 2000. The 18-year-old girl had been identified as a person at risk of radicalisation.

Re AD and AM (Fact-Finding Hearing)  (Application for Re-Hearing) [2016] EWHC 326 (Fam) – The mother's application to re-open a fact-finding hearing on the basis of new medical evidence was allowed.

Re JL [2016] EWHC 440 (Fam) – In two joined cases where babies were relinquished for adoption at birth in the UK the judge held that BIIR did not apply and plans for adoption were authorised to proceed.

Re AD and AM (Children) [2016] EWHC 326 (Fam) – The judge directed a review of earlier findings in relation to the circumstances surrounding life-threatening injuries sustained by the young child.


BD v FD (No 2) [2016] EWHC 594 (Fam) – In financial remedy proceedings the wife was awarded £8.8m on a needs basis.

Work v Gray (Phase II: Computation and Distribution) [2016] EWHC 562 (Fam) – The wife was awarded a half-share of the matrimonial assets in financial remedy proceedings.

Kanev-Lipinski v Aharon Lipinkski  and Others [2016] EWHC 475 (QB) – The judge refused to continue the freezing order over the husband's assets and refused to make an order under s 25 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act.

NR v AB [2016] EWHC 277 (Fam) – The wife was awarded £2m and she would be permitted to remain in the former matrimonial home rent-free for the rest of her life.

Court of Protection

Re VE (Deprivation of Liberty) [2016] EWCOP 16 – Charles J appointed a representative pursuant to Rule 3A of the Court of Protection Rules and approved the local authority standard explanation letter of the role of a representative.

Re J and Others (Deprivation of Liberty) [2016] EWCOP 15 – Charles J gave procedural guidance on cases involving the deprivation of liberty of persons without a family member or friend who could act as a representative for the purposes of Rule 3A of the Court of Protection Rules 2007.


Nottingham City Council v LW and Others [2016] EWHC 11 (Fam)  The costs of an abortive hearing were to be met by the local authority due to the failure to issue proceedings timeously and fairly.


M v Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority [2016] EWCA Civ 102 – The mother was granted permission to appeal a decision refusing to permit the export of the daughter’s gametes to a treatment centre in New York for fertilisation and implantation into the mother.


Re W (Children) [2016] EWCA Civ 113 – The appeal from a reporting order was allowed to the extent that medical evidence would be removed from the 2014 judgment and there would be a tighter requirement on the issue of daily reporting of the rehearing.

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