Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

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Supporting Heroes – the new law

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On 30 July 2014, I summarised the Government’s proposals for ‘supporting heroes’ contained in the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill 2015. The proposals have now completed the Parliamentary process, and the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015 is now on the statute book.
To recap, the Act provides that when dealing with negligence claims or claims for breach of statutory duty the courts should consider:

  • whether the alleged negligence or breach of statutory duty occurred when the person was acting for the benefit of society or any of its members (section 2) ;
  • whether the person , in carrying out the activity giving rise to the claim , demonstrated a generally responsible approach towards protecting the safety or other interests of others (section 3) ;
  • whether the alleged negligence or breach of statutory duty occurred when the person was acting heroically by intervening in an emergency to assist an individual in danger and without regard to his or her own safety or other interests (section 4).

The Act will come into force on a date to be announced later.


Written by lwtmp

February 25, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Family Justice: ensuring the voice of the child is heard

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Family law places great emphasis on the child. Ensuring that the interests of the child are addressed is central. But how can these issues be addressed if, in the course of proceedings – whether in court or mediation – those taking decisions do not hear directly from the children who are going to be affected by those decisions?

In theory the child’s interests are represented by CAFCASS (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service). But it has been recognised that however well staff in CAFCASS work, they may not always fully understand the child’s perspective. In 2006, CAFCASS established the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) – a group of around 40 childrenĀ and young people who have been through the family justice system or who have an interest in children’s rights and the family courts.

The Board has recently been developing proposals to ensure that the practice and procedure of judges and mediators gives children the opportunity to be heard directly.

In a recent speech to the FJYPB, Simon Hughes, Minister in the Ministry of Justice, announced that the Government would seek to implement proposals for all children over the age of 10 to be heard, both in couirt and in mediations. The precise details of how this will happen still need finalising, but this seems to be a step to which the President of the Family Court, CAFCASS and mediators are committed to.

For more details, see
See also

Written by lwtmp

July 30, 2014 at 10:44 am

All change at the Commission for Victims and Witnesses?

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The Independent Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses is a post created under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004. The post has been held, since July 2010 by Louise Casey. She came to the post with a formidable reputation for speaking up about the consequences of anti-social behaviour, and she has taken this outspoken approach into her new role. Over the last 15 months she has issued a number of reports and made a number of important speeches about how the criminal justice system fails the victims of crime, particularly serious violent crime.
In just the last month (October 2011) she has published reports on research into the view of victims on their experience of court and sentencing, and on the needs of families suffering bereavement because of homicide.
She has now announced her resignation to take up a new role to consider the riots which took place in London and other major cities in the summer of 2011.
The Justice Secretary has published a letter thanking her for her work, but also – possibly ominously – indicating that her resignation gives an opportunity to rethink the Commissioner’s role.
To find out more about the Commissioner and her work go to

Written by lwtmp

October 28, 2011 at 9:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized