Fourteen’s Judith Spooner has appeared in a case attracting the attention of the national media, before the President of the Family Division, in which he adjourned the father’s application for contact in order to invite submissions from the Ministry of Justice, or the Justice Secretary, as to an impasse arising from the decision to terminate the father’s legal aid.
In a private law application, ongoing for four years, the father, a convicted sex offender, seeks to maintain direct contact to his son. Having been assessed negatively, the mother, represented by Judith Spooner, submitted that the father’s application be dismissed summarily and the Court make an Order pursuant to s.91(14) Children Act 1989. In the case, reported as Q v Q  EWFC 7, Munby P, whilst understanding of the mother’s position, declined to do so and adjourned the matter for a short period in order to invite submissions as to funding representation for the father and meeting the costs of experts required to attend a contested final hearing of the father’s application – both issues arising from the Legal Aid Agency’s decision to terminate his public funding.
The President observes that, in order for the father to receive a fair hearing, and so that justice is done not only for the father but also his son, the issue must be considered further after a short adjournment. He also went on to note that the issue is of significance for other litigants in family proceedings who find themselves in a similar position to the father in this case, and is therefore of general public interest.
The case has attracted the attention of the national media, particularly in view of family justice reform and the impact of LASPO on the availability of public funds for litigants in family proceedings. Click here to read an article written by Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent, for The Guardian, published today.