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Posts tagged ‘solicitors’

Zoo keeper acquitted by Court of Appeal

This has been a very traumatic time for Ms Westlake and her family both the events leading up to and following her wrongful conviction for assault by beating Ms Kate Sanders

Following trial the bench found as a fact that there was no deliberate assault upon Ms Sanders and Ms Westlake was convicted on the basis of recklessness in that she failed to foresee a risk of harm to Ms Sanders by virtue of holding a glass in her hand in close proximity to Ms Sanders during the course of a verbal altercation

Ms Westlake legal team considered that the justices were wrong in their application of the legal test of recklessness and the appeal was brought on that basis

The court today have confirmed the error in the lower court and accordingly have quashed ms west lakes conviction

Ms Westlake life has been destroyed by something that was no more than unfortunate accident in particular Ms Westlake was unfairly dismissed from her position as zoo keeper at ZSL London zoo and has suffered significant ps biological harm arising from Ms Sanders attack upon her which has been exacerbated by these proceedings

Ms Westlake would like thank those that sent messages of support to her which have been a source of strength and encouragement for her and also expresses her thanks to her excellent legal team for their diligence and perseverance in obtaining justice for her

Justice has now been served and Ms Westlake would now appreciate the opportunity to put  this matter behind her and rebuild her life

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Interview with Damian Norris

Tell us about yourself

As at  1st November this year I have been a solicitor for twenty years. I qualified later than most having done a variety of things after my Law Degree at Southampton (1980 – 1983)  including advertising copywriter, worked in the City for a year  or so in the heady mid 80’s, graphic design, petrol pump monkey, painter and decorator on building sites, gardener and a host of other long-forgotten best forgotten fill-in jobs. Accidentally started doing family law and felt at home in the hurly burly world of the family courts. I quickly learnt to pick up a case and run with it and ended up doing Care work which strikes me as one of the most worthwhile ways of earning a living I can think of. I love the people involved – the great and the good as well as the mad and bad! I like the fact that the other lawyers in Care – even we disagree completely with each other – are usually able to work together for the good of the children involved. There is a good deal of respect for the other lawyers because they are doing a hard job in difficult circumstances but we do try and do our best. Sometimes we even succeed.

What drew you to the law?

I loved history and the people I respected at the time, Thomas Moore, Erasmus (that lot) were often lawyers (as were the artists Cezanne and Sisley). On the very first day at University, my tutor said to me: “I know why you’re doing law. For the money!”  I didn’t realise that. Not sure how true that is even now!

What do you offer clients?

Straight talking and absolute commitment to do my best for my client.

What do you do when you are not working?

I have three great children so that takes up most of the time. Otherwise I read if I can and paint portraits. I have painted all my life.

Can you sum yourself up in 5 words?     

No. I’m far too vain.

                                                                              

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June Venters QC Top Ranked in Chambers UK 2016

Chambers 2016

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Top Ranked Leading Firm Chambers 2015

Re P and Q (Children: Care Proceedings: Fact Finding)

This is the approved Judgement of Mrs Justice Pauffley in the case of Ricky Dearman

https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/gareeva-dearman-2015.pdf

This is a summary of Mrs Justice Pauffley’s findings –

Neither child has been sexually abused by any of the following – Ricky Dearman, teachers at Christchurch Primary School Hampstead, the parents of students at that school, the priest at the adjacent church, teachers at any of the Hampstead or Highgate schools, members of the Metropolitan Police, social workers employed by the London Borough of Camden, officers of Cafcass or anyone else mentioned by Ms Draper or Mr Christie.

The children’s half brother, his father and stepmother – Will and Sarah Draper – are likewise exonerated of any illicit or abusive acts involving the children.

There was no satanic or other cult at which babies were murdered and children were sexually abused.

All of the material promulgated by Ms Draper now published on the internet is nothing other than utter nonsense.

The children’s false stories came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse. Torture is the most accurate way to describe what was done by Mr Christie in collaboration with Ms
Draper

Both children were assaulted by Mr Christie by being hit with a metal spoon on multiple occasions over their head and legs, by being pushed into walls, punched, pinched and kicked. Water was poured over them as they knelt semi-clothed.

The long term emotional and psychological harm of what was done to the children is incalculable. The impact of the internet campaign is likely to have the most devastating consequences for P and Q.

The changing face of legal advice and representation

In today’s times of austerity where we all have to watch what we spend, legal costs can be a worrying addition to anyone’s budget.

Many people believe the solution is to represent themselves but at what cost?

Remember even if a person is unrepresented a Judge still has the power to order costs against them if their case is unsuccessful.  Advice from a Solicitor can save you money in the long run.

Venters Solicitors provide Venters Self Help Solutions in order to combat the general anxiety held by many that costs can run away with the case and secondly to meet the needs of many people who since 1st April 2013 are no longer eligible for legal aid in cases involving divorce and children issues such as contact and residence.

It means that clients can arrange an appointment to meet with a qualified experienced Solicitor in order to receive advice on family law matters as and when needed.  However, the difference between the conventional instruction of a Solicitor is that the client will be “acting in person.”  The Solicitor will provide them with a written note of the advice before they leave the appointment and the client will pay for the appointment on a “pay as you go” basis.  There will be no further costs incurred unless and until a further appointment is arranged because no further work will be undertaken by the Solicitor.

Appointments can be used to seek advice on any family law matter, prepare statements, court documents, letters etc.  A solicitor can also be appointed to represent you at court.

As well as Venters Self Help Solutions we continue to offer a conventional service where we are instructed on behalf of our clients and represent them throughout.

Venters Solicitors, Champions for Justice, are a niche firm of dedicated family law specialists, who uniquely are led by the first and only woman Solicitor Advocate Queen’s Counsel.

Cafcass: there is a new ‘culture of urgency’ in the family courts

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.”

He added:

“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) [2014] 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.”

She added:

“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

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