Family Law Hub

Litigants in Person

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  • An appeal by the husband against the final order made by a district judge in an application for financial remedies. The parties had married in 2013 and separated in 2018, and in the course of the marriage the wife had received a large settlement from the NHS in compensation for clinical negligence. The husband argued that the final order was unfair because it departed from equality in giving 99% of the assets to the wife, that the district judge had gone too far in making allowances for the wife being a litigant in person, that the district judge's assessment of the party's respective needs was flawed, and that the district judge should have taken into account the wife's post-separation spending. HHJ Vincent decided that the appeal should be allowed. The district judge's decision to admit at the last minute an extract from counsel’s advice in respect of the clinical negligence claim had been wrong. The damages award formed part of the matrimonial assets. The district judge had fallen into error in her assessment of the parties’ respective needs, and in concluding that the wife’s needs outweighed the consideration of the husband’s needs, leading her to make an award which was unfair. HHJ Vincent's substituted assessment differed from the district judge's in one regard: a property in Spain would be sold and the proceeds split fifty-fifty. Judgment, 02/07/2020, free
  • The father sought permission to appeal out of time against a district judge's finding of fact that he had abused his daughter. Francis J decided that the findings were so unsafe and their consequences so series that they could not be allowed to stand, despite the exceptional delay in appealing. He noted with surprise the district judge's assertion that the mother's counsel could conduct the cross-examination of the expert witness on behalf of the litigant-in-person father as well as the mother, a suggestion which Francis J said was "incorrect and plainly wrong". The expert had not been cross-examined on his misunderstanding of a previous judgment in the case, and in failing to depart from the expert's view the district judge fell into further error. The procedure adopted was irregular enough to cause injustice within the meaning of FPR Part 30. Permission to appeal out of time was granted, the appeal was allowed and the finding of fact set aside. The matter would be remitted for re-hearing by a High Court judge of the Family Division. Judgment, 19/05/2020, free
  • The father had difficulties with anger management, volatility and aggression. The circuit judge had made a child arrangements order, including orders for supervised contact, non-molestation and prohibited steps, against which the father had, following a course of therapy, unsuccessfully appealed. He now appealed with regard to the fairness of those hearings. Baker LJ found that there had been no indication to the father, a litigant in person, that the court would be making orders in respect of his future contact or concluding the proceedings. The summary dismissal of his appeal had also been wrong. The two hearings together represented an unwarranted infringement of his rights to a fair hearing. Peter Jackson LJ agreed, and the matter was remitted for a further hearing. Judgment, 28/05/2019, free
  • The husband brought an appeal regarding the matrimonial home, which had been bought entirely with money inherited by the wife, arguing that the judge's approach had been unfair in some respects. McFarlane LJ found that there was a sound basis to some of the criticisms. The appeal was allowed, and the case remitted to the family court for rehearing. McFarlane LJ underlined the need for the wife to be represented by competent legal representation if at all possible, calling it a case which ought to justify exceptional funding by the Legal Aid Agency. Macur LJ and Henderson LJ agreed. Judgment, 28/05/2019, free
  • Judicial consultation process started in February 2016 News, 26/02/2019, free

Latest know-how

Latest training

  • Recording of webinar first broadcast on 21st March 2019 Webcast, 26/03/2019, members only
  • Roshi Amiraftabi of 29 Bedford Row, reviews the key private children law cases, themes and practice developments from the past 12 months. Webcast, 31/05/2018, members only
  • Matthew Long, of 29 Bedford Row, reviews the current best practice guidelines for managing cases involving litigants in person, explains the role of McKenzie Friends and offers some practical tips drawn from his experience. Webcast, 07/02/2018, members only

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