In this episode I am joined by Lucy Reed, a family law barrister at St John’s Chambers in Bristol. Her practice spans all areas of family law but she specialises in children work.
In todays episode we discuss how the family system is often inaccessible to many, and how non-lawyers struggle to navigate the system. We also dispel the assumption that all lawyers come from a certain background and are often unapproachable, and we discuss how the Transparency Project is helping to improve the accessibility of information about family proceedings to the public.
In this episode I’m joined by Aoife Daly a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool. She has worked and researched extensively on human rights law, children’s rights, civil and political rights, and family law. She published in 2018 the book Children, Autonomy and the Courts, in which she argues for greater transparency around the weight given to children’s wishes in proceedings about their best interests. She recently produced a report for the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission on how to implement human rights in the UK. Some of her current work relates to sex education as a human right and she has been funded by the Swedish Söderberg Institute to research children and law comparing Sweden and the UK.
“Can you hear me?” is about children actually being heard in family law proceedings and how the ‘right to be heard’ (Article 12 convention on the rights of the child) does not go far enough to give children a voice.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
Article 3 – Best Interests Principle
1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
2. States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.
3. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.
In this weeks episode I interview Mr Cyrus Larizadeh QC. We discussed how our justice system has become unaffordable to many and how the destruction of our legal aid system particularly in the area of family law has left people vulnerable to exploitation and left the very people that need it most unrepresented.
We also discuss the ways people are trying to access justice by using charities and law-centres to get free representation (known as pro-bono in the legal world). Also, how the increasing number of direct-access barristers are offering a different route to representation.