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Archive for June, 2014

Interview with Denise Hoilette

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF

I first joined Venters Solicitors as a Locum Solicitor at their Reigate office and then subsequently became a Senior Solicitor and Head of Department in 2011 and was made a Salaried Partner in 2012.

I love the challenge of the variety of work that I conduct at Venters.  I meet very interesting people in very distressing circumstances and am privileged to have a role where I assist in some crucial decisions that are being made in their lives.

I have had an extensive Family Law practice for over 21 years.  I specialise in divorce, finance orders relating to marriage and relationship breakdown including international elements and assets, injunctions both civil and domestic violence and co-habitation work.  I was involved in setting up a Domestic Violence One Stop Advice Service many years ago and have continued throughout my years of practice to take a special interest in domestic violence issues and the protection of victims.

I specialise in representing parents and children in Care Proceedings and other child related Court actions such as special guardianship, residence and child arrangements applications. I have often represented clients with an international element and have also represented clients in child abduction and leave to remove cases. I conduct a large proportion of my own advocacy in various courts.

I am a member of the Law Society’s Children Panel (Adult and Child), Family Law Panel and am a member of the Association of Lawyers for Children, Resolution and advise clients via The Grandparents Association.  I have represented children in non-accidental injury cases and other complex care cases. I act for children with significant mental or physical health or behavioural problems.

I have a very active and challenging parent care case load and take great care to listen to my clients to ensure that I understand their position and their lives and what they have experienced.  It is a great privilege which I take seriously, no mater what type of case I am involved in.

In 2003 I obtained an MBA (Legal Practice).

WHAT DREW YOU TO THE LAW

I wanted to be a Solicitor from when I was 12 years old. It attracted me as it seemed like a challenging and exciting career- and so it has been!

I have been fortunate to have conducted 3 cases at Court of Appeal level.

I like to add to my knowledge all the time and I am currently turning my attention to add into my specialisms in advising clients in relation to alternative family issues for single sex couples.  Given my extensive experience in the law relating to relationship breakdown and children this fits very well with my professional interests.

WHAT DO YOU OFFER YOUR CLIENT

I develop a close working relationship with my clients and listen to them very carefully and actively as I like to understand their motivations and experiences. Clearly working with clients in distress is a huge privilege and there is a delicate balance to strike. I am very clear in the legal advice that I give and the reality of an individual’s situation so that I can provide realistic options.

I believe that being clear and honest with clients is absolutely crucial so that clients can make informed choices about their lives.

As I am a Solicitor Advocate I provide a seamless service from the very first meeting through to court hearings and I believe that this is very reassuring for clients.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT LAWYERING

I love singing and I am a member of a large London based choir who have performed at various major London concert venues.  I love running (when my knees allow!) and walking and going out.

I am a former Chair of a Board of School Governors at a local school and continue to be a Governor which is very interesting and rewarding.

I love spending time with my friends and family and many people say that they never know what I am going to be up to next as I am a great believer in seizing the day and having as much fun as possible!  I have travelled extensively around the world.

CAN YOU DECRIBE YOURSELF OF IN FIVE WORDS

Not really – I don’t think anybody can!  People have said that I am fun, caring, vibrant, passionate and a straight talker.

Family Justice

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice have shown a marked increase in the numbers of unrepresented parties ending up in the Family Court since 2012.

Unrepresented parties brought around 25,000 cases in 2012 whereas this figure increased to nearly 35,000 in 2013. Legal Aid cuts implemented in 2013 are thought to be a significant factor in this phenomenon.

As well as the year-on-year figures for child-related cases displaying a marked increase in the numbers of unrepresented parties overall; in relative terms, they made up more than 50 per cent of the child-related cases appearing in the Family Court in the latter part of 2013.

Legal Aid Cuts and Divorce

Since 2013, cuts to legal aid have removed financial assistance for a host of civil claims including many areas of private family law.This means that divorcing couples often feel that they cannot seek professional specialist legal advice due to a lack of personal financial means.

Despite this, the number of divorcing couples heading to court to resolve their differences has not fallen but has increased by around 5 per cent, resulting in significant delays. It has been suggested that the absence of solicitors in the divorce process may have made couples less likely to be informed about the alternatives, leaving them to opt for unnecessarily costly and stressful court proceedings.

Family lawyers are not just experts in family law but they usually have significant experience in alternative dispute resolution techniques such as mediation.

Will the Recent Changes Made by the Children and Families Act 2014 Help?

The Children and Families Act 2014 implemented in April 2014, specifically encourages divorcing couples to focus on the welfare of children by placing time limits on care proceedings and making the use of mediation information meetings compulsory.

Mediation itself is still supported by Legal Aid but the Ministry of Justice figures suggest that mediation’s fell dramatically year on year between 2012 and 2013.

Any experienced family lawyer will confirm that mediation is far less stressful than a full blown court case as well as being quicker and cheaper. However, there are some cases where it may not be suitable such as high value divorce cases or where there is a significant imbalance of means between the parties.

Comment

Divorce is often an incredibly stressful experience for all concerned, not least for any children that are involved. Even parties that feel they cannot afford legal advice should at least attempt to speak to  family solicitor to see what help is available before heading to court unrepresented. This often turns out to be far more cost effective in the long run.  For specialist advice please contact us on 01737 229 610 or info@venters.co.uk.

Remember divorce is a life changing event.  Make sure the change you make gives you the best opportunity possible to move on with your life and doesn’t cause you difficulties for years to come.

Rise of Domestic Violence during World Cup

With the First game of the World Cup on 12th June 2014, it is a concern to consider the statistics of the 2010 World Cup which saw an overall increase to level of Domestic Violence during that period.

Whether England won or lost in 2010 there was an increase to the level of Domestic Violence after each match.

Women’s Aid have set up a new campaign – Football United Against Domestic Violence to send a clear message that domestic violence is always unacceptable.

If you are at risk, we are here to help you take the appropriate steps in securing the necessary orders to protect you.  Please do not hesitate to contact Venters Solicitors on 01737 229 610 or 0207 277 0110 for urgent assistance.

June Venters QC to be a Witness for the Public Law Project

June Venters QC has agreed to be a witness for the Public Law Project with the support of the Law Society and in the capacity as Practitioner and Law Society Family Law Committee Member in an action against the Government for the reductions to the scope of legal aid in family cases, focussing on the DV gateway.

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