Care leavers, legal aid awards and a £75m settlement: The last week in family law

A woman who claims that her former civil partner, who died in 2013, failed to disclose business assets worth millions of pounds during the dissolution of their relationship, has taken her case to the Court of Appeal. Helen Roocroft had been in an 18-year relationship with her property tycoon partner, Carol Ann Ainscow, until they separated in 2009. During the proceedings Ms Ainscow told the court that her wealth had been reduced significantly following the property crash brought about by the recession. In the light of this Ms Roocroft accepted a £162,000 settlement in 2010. However, after Ms Ainscow’s death Ms Roocroft discovered information which led her to believe that Ms Ainscow had not been truthful about the full extent of her assets and income in the disclosure she made to the court. Accordingly, she applied to have the settlement set aside. The application was dismissed in July 2014, on the basis that it had no merit. However, in January 2015 Ms Roocroft obtained permission to appeal.

The government has published its strategy for improving services, support and advice for care leavers. The strategy makes a commitment that the government will use the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme to rethink transitions to adulthood for young people in the children’s social care system, with a focus on developing new ways to provide care leavers with the personal support networks they need to thrive The document also identifies how the State, as corporate parents, will support care leavers to achieve five key outcomes: that all young people leaving care should be better prepared and supported to live independently, improved access to education, employment and training, that care leavers should experience stability in their lives, and feel safe and secure, improved access to health support, and that care leavers should achieve financial stability.

Members of family law organisation Resolution have been celebrated in the 2016 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards (‘LALYs’). Resolution members Baljit Bains and Tracy Winstanley were awarded the LALY for their work as legal aid family lawyers and family mediators. The LALYs, run by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, are legal aid’s most prestigious event and exist to honour the often unsung champions of the legal profession who do so much to support some of society’s most vulnerable people. Resolution chair Nigel Shepherd said: “I’d like to extend warm congratulations to all of the winners and finalists at [the] LALY awards and in particular Resolution’s Baljit and Tracy, for their fantastic achievement. They are both great ambassadors for the values that Resolution promotes. The work legal aid practitioners do is vital to ensuring that our society remains just and fair. The cuts to legal aid funding have had a profound impact on the profession, but it’s people like those recognised at the LALYs who work tirelessly to ensure that vulnerable and disadvantaged people continue to have access to justice.”

Former model Christina Estrada has been awarded a sum of about £75 million from her former husband, Sheikh Walid Juffali by Mrs Justice Roberts in the High Court. Ms Estrada had been seeking a sum of £238 million. Her lawyers said the total settlement, taking into account her assets, was about £75m, a figure that included a cash payment of £53m from her husband. Although her final award fell short of the amount she was seeking, Juffali’s counsel Justin Warshaw QC said: “[Awarding] £53m to a lady who has £20m [in her own assets] is an astonishing amount of money. [Anything more] would drive this case into fantasy territory.” Juffali had previously sought to avoid Ms Estrada’s claim by claiming that he was entitled to diplomatic immunity. However, the Court of Appeal held that his permanent residence in the UK precluded him from availing himself of such protection.

And finally, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (‘Cafcass’) has published its latest figures for care applications and private law demand, for June 2016. In that month the service received a total of 1,265 care applications, which is a 13% increase compared to those received in June 2015. As to private law demand, Cafcass received a total of 3,599 new private law cases, which is a 6% increase on June 2015 levels.