Weekly Family Law Update August 19, 2020

A failed negligence claim and the impact of the pandemic on families: The last week in family law

Court of Appeal rejects woman’s negligence claim

A woman who issued a
negligence claim against the solicitors who acted for her on a financial
remedies application has had the claim rejected by the Court of Appeal.

The woman’s former husband
issued divorce proceedings in 2011. Financial remedy proceedings were then
issued, and a final hearing took place in February/March 2012. The District
Judge handed down his judgment on the 30th of May 2012, and made his
order on that day.

On the 5th of
April 2018 the woman issued her negligence claim against the solicitors,
claiming that she received a lower settlement because the District Judge used
valuations of her assets that were significantly higher than they actually
were, as a result of the Firm’s failure to secure the admission into evidence
of up to date expert valuations.

The Firm defended the
claim, on the basis that it had been issued after the limitation period for
such claims (six years from the date that the woman had suffered the loss) had
ended. Initially, the court disagreed, saying that the loss had occurred when the
final order was made on the 30th of May 2012. However, the firm
appealed against that decision, and the court allowed the appeal, saying that
the loss had actually occurred by the last day of the final hearing, on the 16th
of March 2012.

The woman appeal, to the
Court of Appeal.

Giving the leading judgment
Lord Justice McCombe said that “the reality is that the expert evidence of
values upon which a party may rely, and upon which proceedings will be
resolved, will be settled well prior to the date of the hearing.” Accordingly,
he considered that, on her case, the woman suffered “measurable damage”
and was “financially worse off” at the latest by the end of the
hearing on the 16th of March 2012, and in all probability much
earlier than that.

The woman’s negligence
claim was therefore time barred, and her appeal was dismissed.

Survey shows impact of virus on families

A YouGov survey of over
2000 parents by the charity Action for Children today has laid bare the
devastating impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on millions of
families in Britain, with parents and children struggling to cope with issues
caused by life in lockdown.

After months of lockdown
over a third of parents (36%) say that their children are feeling isolated and
lonely, with millions also reported as anxious, or unable to sleep. The charity
says that this has left parents themselves reeling with four in ten (43%)
feeling anxious and more than one in three (33%) admitting to being out of
their depth when it came to supporting their children during the lockdown. Many
are also experiencing the same loneliness and sleep problems they say their
children are.

Even with restrictions
easing, parents are fearful about the weeks and months of uncertainty ahead.
Over one in three (37%) say they are worried their children will struggle to
socialise and want to remain at home. Mums and dads experiences included their
children ‘bedwetting’, becoming ‘clingy and unsure’ and not ‘wanting to go
outside’. Others reported ‘disordered eating’, that their child had become
‘weepy’, ‘frustrated’ or ‘scared of people’ outside their home.

With ongoing uncertainty,
Action for Children is warning that things are likely to get worse as the long
term impacts of the pandemic become clearer. After seeing a surge of 415% in
the three months of lockdown to its digital parenting advice service, the
charity is launching a new national online chat service which connects mums and
dads with trained parenting coaches.

The charity is also urging
the government to do its part by prioritising children’s mental health in the
COVID recovery planning, and providing adequate funding to meet the surge in
need feared in the months ahead.