Domestic abuse, child privacy and civil partnerships: The last week in family law

A radical counselling scheme for some male domestic abusers cuts offending by a third, according to researchers. The two-day Cautions and Relationship Abuse (‘CARA’) workshop places first-time offenders in group discussions in which they talk about their behaviour and anger management. The results of analysis conducted by researchers from Cambridge University, Hampshire Constabulary and the College of Policing (amongst others) one year after attending workshops suggest that they are an effective way to reduce the future harm of domestic abuse among first offenders who admit their crime. Re-offenders from the workshop group caused 27% less harm than re-offenders from a control group who did not attend the workshops. The CARA workshop group members were arrested for crimes totalling an average of 8.4 days of recommended imprisonment under English sentencing guidelines, compared to an average of 11.6 days per offender assigned to the control group, the equivalent of 38% more harm without the workshop than with it.

The University of Winchester has published a report concerning the impact of broadcast and social media on the privacy and best interests of young children. Amongst eight recommendations, the report calls for young children to have an independent right to privacy, which is not dependent on what their parents think about their own privacy. The report also calls for social media and internet companies to have a duty to consider young children’s privacy and best interests in their operations. “As a society, we’re exposing ever younger children more and more in broadcast media and on the internet, by filming them for ‘science entertainment’ programmes and by ‘sharenting’ on social media sites,” said Marion Oswald, Head of the Centre for Information Rights at the University of Winchester and one of the report’s authors. She went on: “Young people may therefore grow up in a world which already knows a lot about them that they have not chosen to share. A child may grow to regret their exposure in the media.  We shouldn’t put all our eggs in the basket of the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’. By the time a child is older, it may be too late.”

Gwynneth Knowles QC is to be appointed a Justice of the High Court, assigned to the Family Division, with effect from 2 October 2017, following the elevation of Sir Peter Jackson to the Court of Appeal. She will be known as The Honourable Mrs Justice Gwynneth Knowles. She was called to the Bar in 1993 and took Silk in 2011. She was appointed as a fee-paid Tribunal Judge of the First-tier Tribunal, Health, Education and Social Care Chamber in 2007, as a salaried Judge of the Upper Tribunal, Administrative Appeals Chamber in 2014 and authorised to sit as a Deputy High Court Judge in 2016.

A heterosexual couple who want to enter a civil partnership instead of getting married have been granted permission to take their case to the Supreme Court. Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan argue that the law, which only allows same-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership, is discriminatory. They sought a judicial review of the law, but their application was dismissed, as was their subsequent appeal to the Court of Appeal. If the Supreme Court overturns the previous judgements, heterosexual couples would be allowed to enter a civil partnership, which came into law for same-sex couples in 2005.

And finally, government officials have warned that parents in the UK would find it “much more difficult” to recover abducted children if Britain fails to persuade the EU to continue legal cooperation after Brexit. The officials said the process of appealing to foreign courts for help could become much more complicated, and cited a hypothetical case of a child of a British parent being taken out of the country by a spouse from another member state as an example. “It would be much more difficult [to get a child back],” said one official. “There are a range of time measures. The fact is none of these systems are as effective or speedy as the current arrangements we have or the future ones we want to agree.”