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PSL Essential Update – What’s new for July 2015?

Date:30 JUL 2015
This is the second instalment of our monthly PSL Essential Update series highlighting the most important news, articles and judgments to keep you fully informed of all the latest family law developments.

Female Genital Mutilation

By virtue of the Serious Crime Act 2015 (Commencement No. 2) Regulations 2015, the provisions in the Serious Crime Act 2015 relating to Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders came into force on 17 July 2015. Watch this space for reported cases as use of the new FGM Protection Orders develops.

Legal Aid

Legal Aid eligibility remains a contentious issue but July saw a concession from the government. The restrictions on legal aid in domestic abuse cases were loosened to reduce the likelihood of legal aid being pulled before the end of a case. From 17 April 2015 there is no longer a requirement that evidence of domestic or child abuse be resubmitted before any final hearing. Although the changes were universally welcomed, Resolution urged the government to do more to protect victims of domestic abuse.

In other legal aid news, the High Court in IS (By the Official Solicitor as Litigation Friend) v Director of Legal Aid CaseWork and Another [2015] EWHC 1965 (Admin) found that the Legal Aid Agency’s current operation of the Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) scheme is unlawful leading to calls for changes.

The government responded to the Justice Committee’s Eighth Report of Session 2014–15 (published on 12 March 2015) by rejecting the concerns about LASPO and saying that the wider objectives for the reforms have not failed.

Elsewhere, a report by the Children’s Society and the University of Bedfordshire raised concerns that migrant children were no longer able to realise their rights in practice due to the removal of legal aid in immigration cases.


Leading on from the legal aid developments this month the Chancellor announced £3.2 million funding to help victims of domestic abuse in the Summer budget.
The budget contained many other relevant issues for family lawyers including further cuts such as the benefits cap being lowered and restrictions on Tax Credits and Universal Credits.

Court closures

On 16 July Courts Minister Shailesh Vara announced a consultation on the closure of 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales, raising further concerns about possible access to justice issues. The consultation runs for 12 weeks so get your responses in as soon as possible if you want to have your say.


The ongoing saga of Prest v Prest saw another instalment in the form of a Court of Appeal judgment (Prest v Prest [2015] EWCA Civ 714) dismissing Mr Prest’s appeal against the order against him in committal proceedings for breach of the financial order. His lawyers have suggested that he will appeal this decision so keep an eye on Family Law for the next update.

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Ilot v Mitson

The Court of Appeal in Ilot v Mitson [2015] EWCA Civ 797 clarified the rules on reasonable provision for adult children, potentially opening the door to more challenges to wills under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Right to Lifelong Anonymity

The High Court in Birmingham City Council v Safraz Riaz & Others [2015] EWHC 1857 (Fam) ordered that a victim of child sexual exploitation should be entitled to lifelong anonymity. Although the court acknowledged that there was a public interest in reporting of cases of child sexual exploitation, the public interest in supporting victims of child sexual exploitation to come forward and report their abuse took priority. In this instance there was no public interest in identifying the woman as a victim of child sexual exploitation and she was entitled to respect for her private life. The balance fell in favour of granting her lifelong anonymity.

Efficient Conduct

Mr Justice Mostyn released a 'Statement on the Efficient Conduct of Financial Remedy Hearings Allocated to a HighCourt Judge whether Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice or Elsewhere', providing guidance on allocation criteria and methods of transferring financial remedy cases.

Family Justice Young Peoples Board Conference

The Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) held their annual ‘ Voice of the Child’ conference on 23 July in London. The day provided an opportunity for the Board to showcase its work and to promote the voice of the child to a whole range of delegates.

The theme of the conference was ‘Effective Participation: Make it Happen – Make it Better’ and included powerful testimonials from various Board members about their experiences in the family justice system. A panel discussion took place and there were breakout sessions on Child Inclusive Mediation, Children Meeting Judges, Children’s Rights in Policy and Practice and the Impact of Family Break-Up on a Child’s Wellbeing. The President of the Family Division Sir James Munby also gave an address to the conference explaining the need for “a cultural revolution” to ensure children are more visible in family proceedings.

Family Law Awards

The Family Law Awards are due to take place on 8October at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London and the shortlist of nominees was announced on 28 July. Don’t forget to vote for your choice in the community awards for Family Law Commentator of the Year, Clerking Team of the Year and Family Law Chartered Legal Executive or Paraglegal of the Year and to tweet about the awards using  #famlawawards.

In other news

See below for a list of ‘at a glance’ headlines of important items and articles you might have missed: