Bloomsbury Family Law Briefing: July Teaser

Case Summaries

Re SX (A Child) [2020] EWHC 1573 (Fam) (1 June 2020), Lieven J – Care proceedings concerning a four year old child (now in foster care) following the unexplained death of his sister aged two months and who had suffered multiple unexplained fractures. ‘The Father inflicted the injuries’ (at [213]), the mother at high end of failure to protect.

A Local Authority v W & ors (Application for Summary Dismissal of Findings) [2020] EWFC 40 (2 June 2020), MacDonald J – The court does not have the power at a case management stage summarily to dismiss disputed findings sought by a local authority against a parent in Children Act 1989, Part 4 (care) proceedings.

Re B-T (A Child: Threshold Conditions) [2020] EWCA Civ 697 (3 June 2020) – Local authority’s appeal against a judge’s failure to agree with their application under Children Act 1989, s 31(2) in respect of a child born in July 2019. The Court of Appeal substituted its own care order based on findings as to the father’s inappropriate handing (throwing him in the air) of the child.

Re B and Y [2020] EWCA Civ 767 (17 June 2020) – Father’s appeal against a sex abuse finding was disallowed. The appellate court would not interfere with findings of fact and evaluations made by a trial judge, unless the judge could not reasonably have made findings.

Re S (Vulnerable Parent: Intermediary) [2020] EWCA Civ 763 (16 June 2020) – Appeal of a vulnerable parent allowed where the judge had wrongly taken an early case management decision not to involve an intermediary for a mother in care proceedings.

Akhmedova v Akhmedov & ors [2020] EWHC 1526 (Fam) (12 June 2020), Knowles J – Part of enforcement litigation following AAZ v BBZ and ors [2016] EWHC 3234 (Fam), [2018] 1 FLR 153 where Timur Akhmedov (applicant’s son), who had received funds from his father, was applying to have information from his mother’s litigation funders (see article below). His claim was disallowed and his statement of claim struck out.

Funding matrimonial financial proceedings: champerty and public policy

Enforcement proceedings and Akhmedova

The subject of non-party funding of family litigation is reviewed especially in the context of Akhmedova v Akhmedov & ors [2020] EWHC 1526 (Fam) (12 June 2020), Knowles J which now extends to her and her son Temur (T) over his counter-claim to her entitlement to set up independent funding for her enforcement proceedings. She applied to Knowles J – successfully – to strike out this counter-claim within the terms of FPR 2010, r 4.4(1)(a), namely that it disclosed ‘no reasonable ground for bringing… the application’. To consider the basis of this application Knowles J considered what is meant by champerty in court proceedings.

The main sources of funding of proceedings, mostly for financial relief, on family breakdown are:

  • That a client pays his or her lawyers from her or his own financial resources, whether from money in hand or by borrowing from family, friends or other lender.
  • That a client seeks funding for the litigation from a non-party funder (as did TA in Akhmedova).
  • That a client agrees with their solicitors that they will take their costs from the proceeds of the litigation (Solicitors Act 1974, s 73 (solicitors’ statutory charge over proceeds of litigation); Sears Tooth v Payne Hicks Beach [1997] 2 FLR 116, [1998] 1 FCR 231, Wilson J).
  • Legal aid (rare in financial relief proceedings), subject to the legal aid statutory charge (Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, s 25) provides funding for a financially eligible individual.
  • In matrimonial financial relief proceedings and where the financial circumstances of a party (normally the wife) are such as to justify it, a claim against the other spouse for a legal services order (Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, s 22ZA).

The article considers the second of the above types of funding as explained in Akhmedova and the 1997 case of Sears Tooth – still an important commentary on the subject of non-party funding of family proceedings.

The Family Law Briefing is part of the Bloomsbury Law Online Service. The full briefing is available here.

David Burrows

Written by David Burrows

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