The Family Business Committee meets 5 times a year for an hour over lunchtime to discuss changes in family law practice, procedure and local protocols.
The Committee is dedicated to promoting and providing excellent conference and seminar facilities to all family lawyers at a reasonable price. Annual conferences include public and private law children, financial relief and protection from abuse amongst others.
There have been many significant changes that family practitioners have to contend with over the last decade. 2013 was a year that probably saw the greatest threat to those practitioners in family law for whom the majority of their work was within the public funding arena. The introduction of LASPO in April of 2013 saw legal aid significantly decreased from many cases. The Committee ensured awareness that legal aid remained available in certain circumstances and collectively sought to ensure businesses remained profitable but the community continued to be able to access advice.
There was further change in April 2014 with the introduction of the single Family Court and need for any party now seeking to issue proceedings in Children Act matters or financial matters within the family context to have attended at a MIAM. However, it should be noted that many of the not for profit mediation providers in the Merseyside area went out of business shortly following the introduction of LASPO in April of 2013. Therefore the pressure on those firms and agencies that provide mediation with a Legal Aid contract is high.
The impact of the withdrawal of Legal Aid has been the increase in litigants in person within family proceedings. This has an impact on all our practitioners at the Sub-Committee whether they represent primarily fee-paying clients or clients who are still eligible for public funding and the pressure that litigants in person bring to the Court process, cases often take longer where there are one or more litigants in person.
Many of our committee members are also trained as collaborative lawyers. This is a concept in that both parties and their lawyers agree at the outset by way of a participation agreement that they will not use Court to resolve their differences. Both the lawyers and the parties commit to reaching an agreement to resolve their differences by a series of four way meetings between the lawyers and the parties. Thereafter at the conclusion of such negotiations and when agreement is submitted it can then be put before the Court by way of a Consent Order. It is another important way forward for families to consider when separating.
In more recent times, the Coronavirus pandemic caused considerable disruption in March 2020 when solicitors offices and courts closed for safety. Practitioners had to become tech savvy very quickly, e-bundles became a necessity, hearings and client meetings on Zoom/Microsoft Teams/CVP became common place. The Committee continued to liaise with family practitioner members and sought their views on the safety measures put in place when the courts started to re-open.
The Committee has regular involvement and liaison with the local courts in attending a number of committees to ensure that practitioners are fully updated in changes in local procedures and practice. Further, the committee gives feedback to the court to ensure that the community is served as well as possible.
New committee members are always welcome. If you wish to join this committee please write in to the Chair or email the Society at email@example.com stating which committee you would like to join. You should be a member of Liverpool Law Society in order to sit on a sub-committee. Co-option to the sub-committee must then be approved by General Committee.