Archive for February, 2014
On Sunday 2nd March 2014, Lauren Harris, Trainee Solicitor, will be participating in the Mizuno Reading Half Marathon. Lauren has entered this half marathon in order to fundraise for the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a charity which helps prevent sexual abuse to children.
This is a new and exciting challenge for Lauren, having not been a keen runner prior to signing herself up for this event. Lauren only signed up to this event on 1st January 2014 and has been training in her spare time. Lauren had not run more than 7 miles prior to signing up, but has gradually trained and built up to run 11.5 miles in recent weeks in preparation for Sunday’s event.
Lauren has chosen to fundraise for the Lucy Faithfull Foundation as this is a Child Protection Charity and this is the area of law Lauren has had most exposure to, whilst working with Venters.
Lauren hopes to raise in the region of £300 for this charity. The Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s website has provided an example of what this amount of money could do to assist a family and states that for example, this amount of money would assist a child or young person with worrying behaviour, as well as their family, to receive help from a specialist Lucy Faithfull Foundation Practitioner.
The family courts have begun to replace a “culture of delay” with a “culture of urgency”, the Chief Executive of Cafcass observes:
Anthony Douglas recently approved a recent drop in the average time taken to complete care applications, down to 30 weeks from double that two years ago. He said:
“A halving of the time a case takes in court gives the average child subject to care proceedings – an extra 6 months less in limbo. Of course, this only makes sense if the speed with which the child can be placed securely and safely with permanent carers, whether back home, with relatives or with approved carers outside of the family network, is also faster.”
However, he claims, if new children entering the care system simply join the “4,000 plus” already looking for homes and permanent carers, “the greater speed in the family courts will count for little.”
The dramatic decrease in care application completion times “is a huge shift in operational culture which we can build on in the years to come.”
From April this year, family courts will be expected to resolve care applications and decide whether children should stay with their birth families or enter the care system within a maximum of 26 weeks (six and a half months), except in exceptional circumstances.
Mr Douglas believes this timetable will now be met before the law changes, saying this is a “testimony to all those practitioners in the family justice system who have worked hard to bring it about.”
“I do not believe the fears about miscarriages of justice to parents by completing cases quicker are borne out. 26 weeks is still a very long time in a child’s life.”
Parents who abuse or neglect their children must show that they can change “in a matter of months, not years”, he said. Children “marooned” in the care system, with no sign of resolution or permanent placement “can easily lose their sense of hope and trust.”
This approval and the dismissal of speed leading to miscarriages of justice for parents from Sir Anthony Douglas should also be read in contrast with the recently reported decision of Re NL (A child) (Appeal: Interim Care Order: Facts and Reasons)  EWHC 270 (Fam) Mrs Justice Pauffley. In this case the court deprecated the widespread practice in care proceedings in the family proceedings court by which parties, usually the local authority, draft the ‘Facts and Reasons’ which are then adopted by the Justices.
In her judgment – which in his latest View (No 10) the President has recommended should be read by all care practitioners – Pauffley J said:
“Whilst I might be able to understand why such methods may have been developed, I am profoundly alarmed by their existence. Informal inquiries reveal, anecdotally, that the practices I have described are not confined to this area but are widespread across the country.”
“Seemingly, there were process failures in this case which significantly interfered with the most basic requirements for openness and transparency. There was, apparently, an established but largely clandestine arrangement between the local authority and the court which, to my mind, has considerable repercussions for justice and, equally importantly, the perception that justice will be done. It is fundamental that nothing is sent to the judge by one party unless it is copied simultaneously to every other party.
“Equally and just as importantly, it is difficult to view the Justices as having been independent and impartial if, as happened here, they simply adopted the local authority’s analysis of what their Findings and Reasons might comprise.”
Most notably and relevant to the approval of the speed now being exercised in the Family Courts is the comment made by Pauffley, J whereby she stated the following:
The judge noted that the reason why the local authority acted as it did concerning the report might be associated with the family justice reforms and the impetus to complete public law cases within 26 weeks. She commented:
“Justice must never be sacrificed upon the altar of speed.”
Words that many involved in the family courts would echo.
June Venters QC
I joined Venters in July 2012 having trained and worked at two leading criminal firms in London.
I also spent some time working as a consultant for an international city firm prior to joining the firm.
I head up the criminal department at Venters and I specialise in business crime, regulatory enforcement & compliance and serious & general crime. I defend prosecutions brought by the Serious Fraud Office, Crown Prosecution Service and HM Revenue & Customs.
I advise post conviction/sentence on potential grounds and merits of appeal. I also provide advice and assistance to witnesses who have been asked to provide a statement or have received a request to attend court to give evidence.
I provide specialist police station advice as well as advice to clients in relation to interviews conducted by other prosecution agencies. I have a wealth of experience and success in making representations to the CPS, or relevant prosecuting agency, that charges should not be brought.
I run a pro bono free criminal advice clinic at Venters for individuals to “pop in” with any criminal law issue.
What drew you to law?
I think I can say with certainty that I lead with my heart rather than my head. To me, law has always been about criminal defence, evidence, court & police station procedures and helping those facing the worse types of allegations. I have had experience of both criminal legal aid and privately funded criminal cases and have realized that criminal law should only be undertaken by those with a passion for it.
This is one of the reasons we started the free advice clinic – to enable individuals to still get excellent criminal legal advice and access to justice on the high street.
What do you offer clients?
I can offer clients over 10 years experience in the criminal law field. I have dealt with most criminal offences from murder, manslaughter, sexual offences, drug trafficking, harassment, firearms, various degrees of assault to motoring offences.
I respect the definition of “client care” and I leave no stone unturned for my clients. I consider individual strategies for each case I deal with and I don’t simply follow a set path. Rather, I take every client’s personal circumstances into account and I am always looking two steps ahead.
What do you do when you are not lawyering?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and try to take every opportunity to celebrate special occasions.
I am also an avid cyclist and have completed the London to Brighton bike ride on a number of occasions. I also cycled Edinburgh to London as a slightly more ambitious week’s cycling holiday.
I also enjoy writing and plan to be an author of both adult fiction and children’s books in the future.
Can you sum yourself up in 5 words?
Brave, Loyal, Kind, Determined, Fun.
ESDAS organised a walk to support 1 Billion Rising for Justice. A Venters team of Carly Fiander, Christine Boot and Floris Shoebridge joined ESDAS to participate in the event in the name of a great cause.
At the top of the hill the staff from ESDAS gave a reading, and it was followed by a minutes silence for all those who suffer abuse across the world. Bubbles were then released as sign of freedom.