http://www.venters.co.uk/

Posts tagged ‘Child abduction’

Image

June Venters QC Top Ranked in Chambers UK 2016

Chambers 2016

Advertisements
Image

Top Ranked Leading Firm Chambers 2015

June Venters QC writes to the Lord Chancellor about her concerns concerning changes which have been made to legal aid

June Venters QC has written personally to the Lord Chancellor, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Chief Executive of the Legal aid agency to express her immense concern at the change to the means testing of legal aid.  She drew to his attention one particular case as an example in respect of which she is instructed and which involves potentially serious risks to an abducted child where urgent High Court Orders were necessary to seek the child’s return to the jurisdiction of England and Wales.    Legal aid was not available because the client did not qualify on means even though she was in receipt of a “passported benefit.”

Extracts of her letter are as follows:

I am writing to you to express my immense and continuing concern about the inadequacies of our failing justice system brought about in particular by the implementation of what I can only describe as illogical and unfair legal aid decisions which are seriously impacting, in my view, on the ability to secure necessary access to justice.

I have always accepted that legal aid needed to be controlled and I accept in the past just as with any system there has been abuse but what is now happening is that there is a justice system for the rich and none for the rest of society in many instances and I cannot believe that is the desire or intention of this Government. 

I wish to draw to your attention one particular example with which I am involved and in respect of which I have spent many hours of providing pro bono work.

My client failed the means test because of recent changes to legal aid whereby even though previously the receipt of certain state benefits would automatically “passport” someone to legal aid eligibility this is no longer the case and capital has to be taken into consideration.

She explained that in her client’s case the client whilst having a property which had, on paper, an equity of £200,000, in practice she was not in a financially credible position sufficient to enable her to raise monies against the equity in order to fund her legal costs.

The client was in receipt of income-related employment and support allowance [a “passport” benefit] but because of the equity in her property [which was not in dispute within these proceedings and thus could not be disregarded] she was not eligible for legal aid.

She went on to say in her letter:

It has to be questioned why it is that one Government department deems my client’s income sufficiently limited so as to justify supplementing it by way of a state benefit when another Government department responsible for justice deems my client’s financial position sufficiently able to fund her own legal costs.   I understand that the theory behind this illogical decision is that my client could raise a loan against her property, however, my client’s debt is such that she is not able to acquire a loan and in any event if she did this would increase her outgoings placing an additional burden on her income necessitating further supplementation by way of state benefits..

I urge some consideration for changing the current policy with regard to legal aid financial “passporting.”  It is not serving the public and in my view is placing children at risk such as in this case.

One further issue and which I know has been raised by our professional bodies, the removal of legal aid per se in relation to family cases [save for child abduction] unless it meets the domestic violence criteria which remains increasingly difficult is also having a seriously negative impact on the most vulnerable members in society.  Time and time again I am faced with family issues that cannot be resolved without legal advice and representation and at times court intervention. At times members of the public and their children are left in an untenable situation and which then impacts negatively on their health which in turn affects their ability to work and takes up NHS resources.  I know that as an individual I am not going to achieve the abandonment of this policy when our professional organisations have failed to do so but I felt I could not ignore this subject whilst writing about my concerns.  It is my view that the short term saving the Government will have made with regard to this policy will be the Government’s long term loss overall although without proper financial monitoring and reporting the losses that will be incurred to other Government departments as a result of this policy such as NHS and DWP will simply be absorbed without the cause for such losses being obvious.

I am perfectly aware of the drive to provide pro bono services.  I have done this the whole of my career and continue to offer a pro bono clinic one evening every week.  However, if I am to remain in business and employ staff and I hope provide training to future lawyers I cannot undertake only Pro Bono work as much as I would like to do so. 

I urge this Government to review its policies with regard to legal aid and in particular with regard to the specific issue which I have addressed in this letter concerning the “passporting” of benefits. 

Interview with June Venters QC

Tell us about yourselfKEN_7804

I specialise in all aspects of criminal and family law.  In 2006 I became the first woman solicitor ever to be appointed Queen’s Counsel.

I am totally committed to my clients and their cases and at the same time have compassion and sensitivity. I will leave no stone unturned.

As a family specialist I undertake all aspects of Family Law both within England and Wales.  I also specialise in International Child Abduction dealing with both Hague and non Hague convention cases and Domestic Abuse [Domestic Violence] and Education Law.

In addition to being a Practising Lawyer I am an active Family Mediator undertaking both children and finance cases.

I sit as a Recorder [part time Judge] in the Crown Court and County Court and hear criminal cases, private family and public family cases and civil cases.

In 1996 BBC1 produced a documentary about my working life entitled “Law Women” and a follow up documentary was produced by BBC4 in 2009.

I have been the Senior Partner of Venters which I commenced in 1991.  I am proud to say that I lead a team of equally committed colleagues all of whom have qualities of their own.

What drew you to law?

From a child I always had a strong sense of Justice and often found myself at the forefront of school activities.  My family background was such that I had been exposed to the Justice System from an early age as my Mother worked for London Solicitors and although she specialised in Family Law the Practice for whom she worked represented the most serious of criminal cases in their day.  Therefore, working with my Mother most holidays and which I elected to do meant that I absorbed a sense of Justice from an early age and recognised the importance of the Rule of Law and the rights of the individual, something that has stayed with me throughout my life.

What do you offer clients?

Measured and skilled advice and representation.  Ensuring client is fully informed as to the strengths and weaknesses of their case so that costs incurred are proportionate to their objective.

As a Solicitor, Queen’s Counsel I am in a unique position to provide a combined service which neither a solicitor nor counsel alone can do.  My experience and reputation means that I undertake the most serious of cases but I am always willing to represent less serious cases recognising that clients have the right to have a freedom of choice with regard to representation.  I am always willing to discuss the needs of a client and to taylor the services I provide to meet those needs.

What do you do when you are not lawyering?

I suppose my motto should be “I work to live” – what this means is that my work is a very large part of my life.  I consider myself privileged to represent clients in the way that I do and for that reason I dedicate much of my life to it.  That said, I do have other interests, the most important and significant of which is being a Wife and Mother.  Without the support of my family I couldn’t do what I do and that support began with my parents.

I particularly enjoy the time I spend with my husband and daughter who, without a doubt, keep my feet on the ground and never let me forget that “home is where the heart is.”

Can you sum yourself up in 5 words?

Dedicated; hardworking; conscientious; sensitive and approachable

Tag Cloud