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.
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.
The Partners and Staff of Philcox Gray are delighted to confirm the inclusion of our firm in the 2015 edition of the Legal 500. Both the family team and the housing team were listed in this year’s rankings. The inclusion of our firm recognises the hard work and commitment of all of the members of our team.
In the family team, Clare Gaskin was singled out for praise. The editorial comment recorded “Philcox Gray & Co has four Children’s Panel members, and two of its team have higher rights of audience in civil proceedings. Clare Gaskin is a ‘passionate practitioner’”
In the housing team the work done was considered to be in the third tier and it was noted that Ruth Camp had particular specialism in possession and housing disrepair.
If there is a housing or family matter with which we can assist you, please do not hesitate to contact us for help from our acclaimed team.
The Government “does not understand, and has shown little interest in, the knock – on costs of its [Legal Aid] reforms across the public sector”
The Public Accounts Committee has accused the Government of having made cuts to legal aid without understanding the potential consequences of these cuts. Many of its findings will resonate with those who provide social welfare advice.
In its report published today, on the implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) the committee said the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is on course to make a “significant and rapid reduction” in spending, but has little idea of whether the £300m annual saving is outweighed by additional costs elsewhere.
The committee chair said it was “deeply disturbing” that changes to legal aid had been pushed through on the basis of “no evidence in many areas, and without making good use of the evidence that it did have in other areas”. Despite lawyers in the social welfare sector having warned the MoJ about the impact of its cuts to civil legal aid and the increased costs they would create elsewhere, it was not the type of evidence they were willing to listen to. The level of spend seems to have been the critical factor in driving cuts in legal aid.
The report found that the changes in Civil Legal Aid had limited access to mediation for family cases. Mediations for family law matters fell by 38% in the year after the reforms, rather than increasing by 74% as the Ministry expected. The short-sightedness of the Government is made clear in these figures. Despite the MoJ knowing that solicitors were the major channel through which people were referred to mediation, they failed to foresee that removing legal aid for solicitors would reduce referrals. The report recommends that the Ministry should closely monitor the take up of mediation following the changes it made in April 2014, and should take prompt action if this does not increase as expected. The fall in mediation in family law matters contrasts with an increase in the number of contested family cases reaching the courts. The concern caused by these figures, is compounded by the rise in “litigants in person “in the family courts – especially in cases involving children and the rise in contested family cases.
The report said that the complexity of the justice system is preventing people accessing justice, if they are no longer eligible for legal aid. Recent Government proposals for another significant increase in civil Court fees, including applications to suspend an eviction warrant or set aside an order for possession, are likely to further limit access to justice.
Sheila Donn and Beverley King, joint managing Partners at Philcox Gray Solicitors and Mediators believe that Legal Aid makes a significant difference to families and households, to local area economics, and also contributes to significant public savings. Their experience is that early legal advice prevents problems from escalating into unnecessary and expensive litigation.
Article by: Philcox Gray Solicitors & Mediators
Article Date: 4 February 2015
A young couple were refused accommodation by Greenwich Council after they asked to be housed in order for their son, who was in foster care, to be returned to them. Redbridge Council had removed their son from their care some 2 ½ years earlier, and the Family Court indicated in September 2014 that the child should be returned to his parents once they were in suitable accommodation.
The couple approached Greenwich Council for temporary accommodation, but were told that the Council did not owe them a duty as their son was not part of their household. No accommodation was offered in spite of the fact that the Council was aware, through the care proceedings, that the child was only still in foster care because the couple did not have appropriate accommodation. In this case, the local authority should have accepted the child as part of the household and offered temporary accommodation. Because this did not happen, the child could not be returned to his parents, and their long wait to have him back with them continued.
David Araya represented the couple in relation to the issue of housing. Following a threat of judicial review made to Greenwich Council, and an Interim Supervision Order made by the Family Court, the Council agreed to house the couple and include their son in the household.
Philip Wilkins of Hudgell & Partners acted for the father in the care proceedings, and worked with David to ensure that the issue of housing by Greenwich Council was resolved. Happily, the offer of accommodation came just before Christmas and the family will now be able to work towards being reunited.
If you have been refused temporary accommodation from a local authority, you may be able to challenge this decision. Please contact us to see if we can assist you.
To read the full judgment click here: bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2014/775.html
For a comment on the case from a family law perspective, click here:
For a comment on the case from a housing law perspective, click here:
A man has succeeded in his claim that Southwark Council acted unfairly, negligently and unlawfully by conspiring to evict him and covering it up with a series of lies after his eviction. All of his belongings were removed and destroyed, and he ended up being street homeless for over a year.
The man was a tenant in Peckham for 23 years and had been in rent arrears. The Council had obtained a Possession Order in 2006 and wanted to enforce this by obtaining a bailiff’s Warrant. Because the Order was over six years old, the Council should have applied for permission from a Judge to evict the tenant. However, this was not done and the Court office simply issued a Warrant for the tenant’s eviction.
The Court concluded that the Council had failed to follow its own procedures relating to evictions and storing and disposing of belongings. Officers in the Council had decided to evict the tenant at all costs, whether lawfully or not, and they knew, or ignored the fact that all of the tenant’s belongings were going to be destroyed.
This was an extraordinary case with unusual circumstances. If your landlord has applied for a Warrant to evict you, you may be able to apply to Court to stop or delay the eviction and it is not late to take action. There are certain things that your landlord must do in order to lawfully evict you, especially if your landlord is a local authority or housing association. Please contact us to see if we can assist you.
Beverley King, Partner and Joint Head of the Family Department at Philcox Gray, recently represented a “first time” mother of a young baby on a successful appeal against a Care Order and Placement Order for adoption. The Local Authority had prospective adopters waiting in the wings but the mother’s successful appeal stopped the Adoption plan. The mother’s “goodbye” contact with her baby had taken place three months before the appeal decision.
Despite the mother making great progress during the care proceedings, including attending intensive therapy, the Court made a Care Order and a Placement Order when the baby was just four months of age. The successful appeal against these Orders led to the Court setting them aside and reinstating contact for mother and baby immediately. The proceedings are continuing.
It was a very interesting case which demonstrated how the quest to comply with the PLO 26 week time-scale can work against the child’s interests and the interests of the parents. The appeal considered all of the recent developments in case law, including the landmark decisions of Re: B and Re: BS which have brought a much needed requirement for close scrutiny of Care Plans for adoption of children. The Court is now duty bound to evaluate all of the options, ie, family placement or adoption, in terms of positives and negatives for the child.
If you need help or advice with any family matter, please contact us to see if we can assist you.
The BBC in its new short series presented by Evan Davies, last night highlighted the difference between London and the rest of the country in terms of economic growth. In a short piece within the programme, they highlighted the Elephant and Castle’s Heygate re- development and the effect that this will have on the availability of social housing in the local area of Southwark – with very few of the new properties being available to rent on social lets.
It was interesting to see former residents of the Heygate to go back and comment on the effect that moving from the area has had on them, and also to see a councillor from Southwark answer some tricky questions about the future of social housing in the Borough.
The Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle has been for many years a symbol of 1970s housing. Southwark council admits that the “Heygate estate is a huge 1970s concrete fortress which was once home to more than 3,000 people” and that it had “become an example of a poorly designed municipal estate with heating that failed each winter.”
Times are changing in Southwark. Heygate Estate is now in the final stages of demolition so that they may build new homes which will be “modern, warm, dry and safe.”
While we are pleased to see new homes being built, we sincerely hope that the council is able to deliver homes which are “warm, dry and safe” throughout the borough.
On 16 January 2014 at Blackfriars Crown Court, a man was convicted of two counts of wounding with intent, after an eviction by a Court bailiff went horribly wrong. A lawful Possession Order and Warrant for Eviction had been obtained by the Landlord. However it was found that little was known about the man who was being evicted by the housing association. The bailiffs went ill prepared and the tenant is reported to have shot at the bailiff and the housing officer.
This is an extreme response and the situation need not be so bad. If your Landlord has applied for a warrant to evict you then there may still be a possibility that a Court can be asked to stop or delay the eviction. If you have received a Warrant for Eviction from the Court, or you need help and advice in relation to any problems with your tenancy, do not hesitate to contact us to see if we can assist you.