Children’s Rights and Counter-Terrorism

Philcox Gray family paralegal Heidi Burrows, has recently written an article for her University’s Law Blog in which she summarises her Masters thesis in International Children’s Rights.

In both pieces Heidi comments on how children charged or convicted of terrorism related offences are treated and proposes that policy makers reconsider their counter-terrorism efforts to ensure measures do not only comply with children’s rights, but positively reinforce the rights of the child.

Heidi’s blog can be found here Leiden University’s Law Blog

Sheila Donn

Philcox Gray are very sad to announce that Sheila Donn passed away on 27th June 2018.  All of those who knew her personally and / or professionally will have known what an amazing person she was and how great a loss this is.  We are grateful already for the many truly heartfelt messages of love and support we have received.

London Legal Walk 2018

The Philcox Gray team joined over 13,000 legal professionals on 21st May 2018 to take part in this year’s London Legal Walk. The 10km walk took us through St James’ Park, past Buckingham Palace and around the Serpentine before bringing us back along The Strand. By the time the walk started over £400,000 pounds had been raised already by participants.

All the funds raised go towards the provision of free legal services in and around London and the South East. The charities providing these services are invaluable to those most in need such as people who suffer disability or illness and their carers, women and children trafficked to the UK and those who are unfairly dismissed or discriminated against at work. The money raised from the London Legal Walk will help these charities to continue to provide life changing advice and representation to those who have been unable to access legal help.

LLW Website (3)

Woman’s Hour – discussing Family law and a new BBC drama

The new BBC TV drama The Split brings to the screen a portrayal of family law and family lawyers.

Philcox Gray Director Lucy Verity gives her view on the drama in this week’s Woman’s Hour, discussing the conduct of the lawyers portrayed on screen and how this differs to the work and conduct of professional family lawyers on a day to day basis. The episode can be found at

Lucy’s discussion on the TV drama begins 33 minutes into the programme. The panel also discusses a variety of other topics including a new classical music piece, Cancer research and the affect of losing your mother at any age.


Homelessness – Changes to eligibility for Legal Aid

Tenants living in England threatened with homelessness within 56 days are now within scope for legal advice following the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

Until recently, under the Housing Act 1996, tenants in England had to wait until they were faced with homelessness within 28 before they were considered ‘threatened’ with homelessness. With the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act, which is in effect from 4th April 2018, English law has now been updated and provides for the same definition of ‘threatened with homelessness’ as Wales, that a tenant is facing homelessness within 56 days.

People threatened with homelessness are entitled (following means and merits testing) to advice on entitlement and suitability of accommodation, as well as assistance with making an application and any appeal that may follow.

If you need any advice with a Housing matter, please contact us to see if we can assist you.

Changes to legal aid for victims of domestic abuse

The domestic violence gateway was introduced in April 2013 as part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). The gateway effectively removed legal aid for private family law matters, save where individuals could prove that they were victims of domestic abuse or there was evidence of child abuse. The evidence a victim had to provide in order to be granted legal aid was set out in a number of regulations and included letters from a Refuge provider or GP confirming an individual had been a victim of domestic abuse. The evidence also had to have been no more than two years old.

These restrictions were heavily criticised by many, including victims support groups and legal professionals, as severely restricting access to legal aid and often making it impossible to secure.

Following the prolonged and dedicated campaigning spearheaded by the charity organisation Rights of Women, the time limit applied to evidence of domestic abuse was increased from two years to five in mid 2016. In addition to this amendment the Ministry of Justice agreed to conduct a formal review on the impact of the LASPO regulations on access to justice.

In January 2018 the Ministry of Justice announced a number new guidelines in provision of domestic abuse evidence effective from 8 January 2018. Key changes include:

• the removal of the time limit on evidence;
• the recognition of evidence from organisations providing domestic violence support services
• evidence from housing officers, and
• evidence of violence towards a previous partner as risk of abuse.

The changes are a life line for many victims who were previously deprived of legal advice and representation in family court disputes over custody and contact with children.

If you need any advice with a family matter, please contact us to see if we can assist you.

Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards – 2017



A very big congratulations to our very own Sheila Donn winning ‘Public Family Lawyer of the Year – 2017.’

Sheila has had an exceptional year, with a string of landmark cases, including Re W which led to the Court giving guidance on the separate representation of children and Re N which led to much needed clarification of Re Valentine Settlement in relation to international adoptions. The Philcox Gray team were out in force to celebrate Sheila’s achievement and a great night was had by all.

New Draft Legislation Promises To Transform The Approach To Domestic Violence

The bringing forward of legislation “to protect the victims of domestic violence and abuse” was promised by the Government in this year’s Queen’s Speech, delivered on 21st June 2017.

The Government’s briefing notes on this commitment state the purpose of the Bill is to “transform our approach to domestic violence and abuse to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that the state and justice system will do everything it can to both support them and their children, and pursue their abuser.”

The main benefits of the Bill are said to be:
• To protect victims of domestic violence and abuse.
• To give the justice system greater guidance and clarity about the devastating impact of domestic violence and abuse o on families.

The main elements to be introduced by the Bill include the establishment of a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner, the creation a consolidated new domestic abuse civil prevention and protection order regime and, if the abusive behaviour involves a child, the Court can hand down a sentence that reflects the life-long impact that abuse can have on the child.
The Bill’s substantive provisions would apply to England and Wales only.

A break down of all the Bills announced in the Queen’s Speech can be found at and a copy of the full speech at

Judges and Serious Case Reviews

Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division, has released new guidance on the cooperation of judges in Serious Case Reviews. Sir Munby acknowledged there is some misunderstanding as to the extent to which a judge can participate in a review and his guidance reminds us their involvement has potential to bring up issues for judicial independence and the separation of powers.

Serious Case Reviews are conducted by a local authority’s Local Safeguarding Children Board. These Boards are statutory bodies established by the Children Act 1989, and are chaired by a senior social work manager from another local authority. A Board is brought together to complete a detailed review of a local authority’s involvement when a child with whom they have been involved dies. Judges are sometimes asked by the Board for their involvement in these reviews, but they never respond and do not undergo any interviews. They are under no obligation to assist. As President Munby’s guidance explains, this is not because the Judiciary wish to avoid scrutiny or accountability but because judges must be free from the direction and management of other judges. The responsibility of a judge’s decision falls to the judge alone and if their decision is to be reviewed it is to be done within the court arena only by way of the appeal process. This principle, President Munby points out, was developed in order to protect the rule of law, to ensure that the only way to challenge a judge’s decision is in a court of law. All requests from a Board he says should be passed to his office where they can be responded to accordingly.

To see President’s Munby full guidance for judges asked to participate in these reviews follow this link President Munby’s Guidance