Archive for April 24th, 2011

High Court judge ‘sits’ in Tenerife: Sensitive child protection cases will be heard by telephone in hotel room

John Bolch, over at Family Lore takes up the issue…. with this pithy view: Perhaps not the best decision…

I have absolutely no idea if complex family matters can or cannot be dealt with by telephone and email.  But  The Mail on Sunday does report.. “Lawyer Mark Stephens, who has been involved in many injunction cases, said: ‘If you are going for an injunction over the Easter Holiday you will be going for one which is very important and can’t wait for someone to fly back from Tenerife to hear the case.”

BUT!…. Mark Stephens is reported as saying that he does find it remarkable that a judge can go away at this time.  Being blunt.. I am more surprised by the choice of destination.  Magaluf next?  Ibiza?  I don’t think we need to fear the imminent collapse of the family legal system.  The President of The Family Division, who is not in Ibiza or any other Club 18-30 party island resort… is available to deal with matters which require a judicial presence.  I will add, that practitioner friends of mine in family and other fields do not see this as an issue and gave the view that the judge could easily deal with most matters by email and telephone, should the need have arisen. So… another non-story from the Tory press, putting the boot into the legal system?  Mostyn J was a very experienced and successful family silk (QC).  I hope he will go on to be an equally successful judge.  I am more than happy to parody The Daily Mail for this nonsense.

In the meantime….. I rather like to imagine His Lordship enjoying his break and singing…  ( I fear… it unlikely, however)

Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, shake the tree,
Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, grind coffee,
To the left, to the right, jump up and down and to the knees,
Come and dance every night, sing with the hula melody.


I had an interesting and friendly exchange of tweets with Mark Stephens.  Mark Stephens is stating the norm for duty judges in the Daily Mail piece. Mark made the point that The Daily Mail did not  explain to him, during his interview, that Sir Nicholas Wall had agreed to cover.  Mark tweeted to me that he had even ‘(ventured) that other judges could cover’. This puts a very different complexion on the use of a quote from a well known lawyer.

While Mark stated in a tweet to me that I did not need to put an addendum to my post  because his ‘shoulders were broad enough’ – which I have no difficulty in accepting – the point I am making is that it is important, I believe, for newspapers with reach (and The Daily Mail certainly has a long reach with a large readership) to get the story right.

If Mostyn J could handle most matters from Tenerife by email – and the President of The Family Division was able (and prepared) to give cover in person, should the need arise –  what is the problem?  (May I make clear  that I like Tenerife. The reference is to the party island style – hence the disco graphic!)

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