As I return to my desk on Monday morning, after an impromptu half term break, inevitably the sun is shining.
I trust those of you who had some time away enjoyed better weather than I did in chilly London N1.
So perhaps summer has finally arrived? We shall see. I can already report that it appears to be a good year for roses and for clematis. And the lawn is looking green. At least the rain has done some good.
This is my fifth FLBMail as chairman of the FLBA.
Cumberland Lodge Conference 2016 (A Retrospective)
Since I last emailed, the Cumberland Lodge Conference which took on Friday 6th to Sunday 8th May in Windsor Great Park has been and gone.
Whilst I must declare an interest, I think I can report that it went rather well. In fact, it might even be said to have been jolly good. And the weather was glorious.
Numbers were up (although there would be room next year for a few more day delegates), and the programme was truly excellent. I am extremely grateful to all our speakers who generously and cheerfully gave up their time, and all or part of their weekend, to prepare their talks and to attend the conference. And without exception the presentations were excellent. My thanks to all of you who are too numerous to mention here by name. I am also particularly grateful to the judges (Sir James Munby P, (Michael) Keehan J, (Anthony) Hayden J and Judge Michael Baumann from Australia) for their various erudition, contributions and/or entertainment. And thanks also to (Jonathan) Baker J, who kindly accepted an invitation to attend the conference as our guest. Our judges’ free time is very precious and we value their support for the FLBA greatly.
For those who are interested – and that should be all of us – the lecture notes are now available on the website. The link is here [members].
Many thanks to all who attended this year. I’m delighted to report that the charity appeal raised £1,500 for the excellent #BillableHour appeal organised by Sean Jones QC of 11KBW in support of Save the Children.
If you wish to donate even more (and I would encourage you all please to do so), the link is here.
The Cumberland Lodge Conference 2017 will take place on Friday 5th to Sunday 7th May 2017. Please put it in your diaries.
FLBA National Conference Birmingham 2016
Another plug, if I may, for the FLBA National Conference in Birmingham on 22 October 2016.
A great deal of effort is going into organising what I know will be an excellent conference at the Malmaison Hotel in Birmingham.
Again, please put this in your diaries. Too often people come back from the Long Vacation with plans already made and cannot attend. So do it now (please)!
The Eleventh Dame Ann Ebsworth Memorial Lecture will be given this year by Hon. Dame Lowell Goddard, Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Her title is ‘Public Inquiries and the Protection of Rights’ Maintaining accountability, investigating wrongs, and protecting fundamental human rights – challenges for Public Inquiries. This is of obvious interest to all family law practitioners, and I would encourage you all to attend. The lecture is being held in the Middle Temple Hall on Thursday 30th June 2016 at 6pm.
I attach a flyer.
The 7th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights (World Congress) 2017 will be held in Dublin from 4th to 7th June 2017. I have received a Call for Papers and themes together with an interactive link. The closing date for submissions is Thursday 30th June 2016. In the past members of the FLBA have either participated or attended this prestigious conference, and it would be good if the FLBA could have a presence again. And Dublin is such an excellent place to go for a conference.
Appeals to the Court of Appeal: proposed amendments to Civil Procedure Rules and Practice Direction (Consultation)
You may, or may not yet, be aware that Lord Dyson MR has issued an important consultation on the future management of civil (including family) appeals in the Court of Appeal. It includes important proposals to alter the way in which permission to appeal applications are processed and the test to be applied:
1. to raise the threshold for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal from “a real prospect of success” to “a substantial prospect of success”
2. to remove the automatic right of oral renewal for applications for permission to appeal in the Court of Appeal, replacing it with a discretion for the court to decide whether to hold a hearing or to determine an application for permission to appeal on the documents;
3. to remove the automatic right to an oral hearing for reconsideration of decisions on other applications made in the course of proceedings in the Court of Appeal, replacing it with a discretion for the court to decide whether to hold a hearing or to determine an application on the documents.
In addition, CPR PD52C would be much simplified and made more user-friendly. The pressing need for some sort of reform is made most powerfully: put simply, the Court of Appeal cannot cope with the volume of work it now faces. Waiting times are already appalling, and are set to get longer. The Treasury has made plain there will be no new Lord or Lady Justices any time soon (if ever). Whilst undoubtedly driven by the unprecedentedly high number of litigants in person seeking permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal, if brought into effect the reforms proposed will directly impact on all public law children cases and all (including private law) cases heard by a High Court Judge, in which appeals will continue to be heard by the Court of Appeal.
The FLBA represents disparate interests. Views on these proposals may differ. However, it is vital that the Family Bar engages with the Court of Appeal in response to this consultation.
The consultation can be found here.
Please read it and submit a reply. We cannot complain later if reforms are introduced without our views being made known.
The closing date for responses is Friday 24th June 2016.
His Honour Judge Sir Gavyn Arthur
Many of you may be aware that His Honour Judge Sir Gavyn Arthur died very suddenly on Monday 16th May 2016 after being admitted to hospital for urgent surgery the day before. Sir Gavyn was a loyal member and then supporter of the FLBA and was known to many of its members. His appointment in 2002 as the 675th Lord Mayor of London was a great honour of which he was justifiably proud. His appointment as a Circuit Judge in 2007, and then as a Deputy High Court Judge in 2008, came as no surprise. Until his most untimely death he continued to sit at Luton and will be much missed by his many colleagues and friends. On behalf of the FLBA, I offer our sincere condolences upon their very sad loss.
Jo Delahunty QC
Finally, I am delighted to offer warm congratulations to former committee member, and enthusiastic FLBA supporter, Jo Delahunty QC, of 4 Paper Buildings, upon her appointment as Gresham Professor of Law at Gresham College, where she will continue a 419-year-old tradition of delivering free public lectures aimed at the intelligent and interested public within the City of London and beyond. This is a great honour, and one that is hugely deserved. She will (of course) continue in practice!
And finally, finally I wish you all a most enjoyable month of June. May the sun shine and your roses bloom until I email you again in July.
Please do not hesitate to email me directly in chambers at email@example.com, or call me on 020 7936 1500 if you have something you wish to communicate or simply get off your chest.
Administrative enquiries should be sent to Khadija Khan, at firstname.lastname@example.org or to 1 Garden Court, Temple, London EC4Y 9BJ.