The stakes are high too in the latest challenge to our
current legal aid policy. Rights of Women
, a women’s charity focused on helping women find the legal support
they need, challenged Regulation 33 last year, the domestic violence evidence criteria
which, they argued, denied vulnerable women legal protection from abuse. The
High Court gave the charity permission to challenge the lawfulness of the legal
aid provisions four months ago and if the Court takes their argument to its
natural, and indisputable conclusion in 2015, we will see a government review
of this deleterious policy and, hopefully, a new way forward for victims of
Marriage laws should make the news in 2015, and reduce
drafters to tears as what is now an unsightly tangle in tying the knot becomes
visible. Outdated marriage laws coupled with supplemental marriage laws for
heterosexual couples, same sex couples and royal couples have made marriage regulations
messy and multiform rather than clear and uniform. No one is quite sure at this
point whether they’re protesting the lack of clarity surrounding civil
marriages, partnerships, location and venue because fairness demands it or
because romance decries it, but if the latest consultation
is an indicator of things to come, this year should be
a fascinating one for all things ceremonial.
But of all the things to watch out for in 2015, there is one
movement which is set to outshine all the others, as the government continues
to tighten its financial belt and families feel the brunt of dwindling
resources inside the sector (and get sent packing to look for support elsewhere).
The Voice of the Child, on which so much of the family justice system rests,
has historically piped up every now and then, but adult ears have always
strained to hear it. As the now-defunct Voice of the Child Sub-Group called
upon it to help lay out guidelines for judges talking to children in 2010, it
has since travelled over to Cafcass Headquarters. There, the Young
, a collective of children working together to help Cafcass
evolve child friendly policies, has amplified that voice and it has gained a
new lease of life. Their Voice of the Child Conference last July was a game
changer, attracting for the first time, senior politicians like Justice Minister Simon Hughes
, who pledged to make the UK a more child-friendly place.
Those promises will feel renewed pressure to materialise, as recent reports
indicate that childrenin care are still being failed by the system, either because they are ignored indecision making processes or fail to get the support they need to blossom.
Children then and
child-centered policy, may well be the major disrupters of 2015. It’s a brave
new year, fuelled by bold policy, and powered by pioneers of all ages. Let’s
hope great ideas are gathered and implemented this year and that the family
justice system can finally make its way.
The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.