Release of court documents to the security services in children proceedings

dbfamilylaw

Confidentiality a pre-requisite

In X, Y and Z (Disclosure to the Security Service) [2016] EWHC 2400 (Fam) judgment on 6 October 2016 (headed Commissioner for Police of the Metropolis v A Local Authority) McDonald J dealt with an application by the Metropolitan Police (MPS) to release a judgment and mother’s statement in unconcluded care proceedings to the security services (otherwise MI5). MPS had received the documents on their own earlier application. MPS wanted to release the documents to assist in their enquiries (eg in case MI5 could provide them with information about any criminal, including radicalisation, information about the mother: MI5 were not a party to the application).

The mother did not consent nor oppose. All other parties agreed to release. The case turned on whether there should be, and if so what, conditions upon release. MPS said release should be unconditional. Taking the lead for the respondents…

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Thoughts for a fair family court

dbfamilylaw

A letter from Philip Marshall QC

Philip Marshall QC, chair of FLBA, comments at http://flba.co.uk/blog/2016/10/07/flbmail-5-oct-2016/ on the recent ‘Fifteenth view’ of Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division (see eg http://flba.co.uk/downloads/ms_13993.pdf). The president’s short opening paragraph includes: ‘The fact is that we are approaching a crisis for which we are ill-prepared and where there is no clear strategy to manage the crisis.’

Philip’s comment on this diagnosis includes:

‘We must all take notice (a) because if the Family Court is unable to manage the current surge in care cases, we risk having some other system (e.g. tribunals) imposed upon us, and (b) because the very real challenges posed by this unprecedented increase in the number of new public law cases impacts upon the courts’ ability to process private law cases in a timely and appropriately specialised manner. And if the private law cases abandon the family courts in…

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