Legal Sites and Resources in the UK, F to G

Covering family, divorce, children, food, freedom of information, government, courts, legal aid.

Family, Divorce, Children, Family Finance, Care Fees

  • CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services) was created by the Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act 2000. The site covers questions which could be taken to family courts, e.g.:
    * when parents who are separating or divorcing can't agree on arrangements for their children
    * an adoption application
    * when children are subject to an application for care or supervision proceedings by Social Services
    and provides answers to these types of questions for three groups of people - children, teenages, and adults. There is also a basic explanation of the law about children.
  • Family Law Newswatch is a site from Jordans which provides up to date news, cases and legislation. There are also opinions, interviews and a calendar, and you can sign up for an RSS feed. This is really a free "taster" to the many Jordans online services in Family Law and you can sign up for a free trial from the Online Services page.
  • Family Law ICLIP, also from Jorands, is a free current awareness site focussing on developments in international child law across a broad range of areas including: Abduction; Custody/Access; Relocation; Adoption; Surrogacy; Forced Marriage; Human Rights; and Jurisdiction.
  • Family Law Week covers developments in divorce, ancillary relief, private child law, public child law and cohabitation. You have to register, but it is free. The site provides news, articles and cases as well as legislation, with details of all new SIs, together with a link to the full text of the legislation; progress of Bills is tracked. CPD is available at a very modest price.
  • The Official Solicitor and Public Trustee provides representation for minors or adults under legal disability, in county court or High Court proceedings in England and Wales, and in the Court of Protection. The site covers many topics relating to children including for example, International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU).
  • INCADAT is the International Child Abduction Database relating to the Hague Convention.
  • Reunite (Reunite International Child Abduction Centre) is the leading UK charity specialising in international parental child abduction and the movement of children across international borders. They operate the only telephone advice line in the UK offering practical, impartial advice, information and support to parents, family members, and guardians who have had their child abducted, as well as parents and guardians who may have abducted their child.
  • Coram Children's Legal Centre is an independent national charity concerned with law and policy affecting children and young people. There is a free and confidential legal advice and information service, covering all aspects of the law affecting children and young people, and a unit providing legal advice and representation to children and/or parents with concerns relating to schools or Local Education Authorities (LEAs). The centre also campaigns for children's rights in accordance with the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and also monitors the impact of armed conflict on civilian children. The Centre is based at Essex University.
  • Netlaw is a social media forum and information resource offering support to those experiencing relationship and family problems, with the aim of bridging the gap between those requiring assistance and the professionals able to offer expert advice. This allows people to engage directly who otherwise would not have consulted a professional. A key figure in the new forum is Paul Summerbell, Head of Family Law at Warrens Family Law and Founder and CEO of Accord Mediation Services. Viewers are offered the opportunity to open an account (free of charge at present) and to view articles, blogs and posts as an information resource. They can also participate in public forums or notice boards that permit problems to be posted and answers provided.
  • Natalie Gamble Associates - provide an impressive site on fertility law and parenting law in all its manifestations. Overall, the site includes legislation (including the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (HFEA)), case law, useful links and 30,000 words of detailed written guidance on the law broken down for different situations. It has been designed as a free resource on this complex area of law, providing reliable information accessible to everyone. The site includes a blog of current news and comment.
  • National Association of Child Contact Centres is the supporting membership body for around 350 child contact centres and services located throughout England (including the Channel Isles), Wales and Northern Ireland. It is the largest in Europe. For details of centres in Scotland please visit Relationships Scotland.
  • Advice on Individual Rights in Europe (AIRE) is an organisation based in London but with a Europe-wide remit and funding from the EU (as part of the EUROJUS network) and other public bodies. It provides information and advice throughout Europe on international human rights law, including the rights of individuals under the provisions of European Community Law; it has a special emphasis on ECHR materials on Family Law. The organisation also provides direct legal advice and assistance on a case by case basis to individuals, or to the lawyers who represent them, and, where appropriate, direct representation before international tribunals.
  • 4 Brick Court has an established reputation in Family Law and Immigration, Crime, Common Law, Employment and Licensing. There are a large number of articles on family law on the site and a monthly "update" on family law with summaries of recent cases, articles etc. One of the barristers, Jacqui Gilliatt has set up a blog on UK family law called Bloody relations ("Where there's a relative there's a bloody good argument to be had"). The site is also associated with a wiki called familylawfaqs which is still in its early stages and calling for others to contribute their knowledge as well as the original authors.
  • Family Law Matters is a blog from Jo Spain of Spain Williams. The blog contains articles, information and news on many areas of Family Law.
  • Family Lore - Random thoughts of a family lawyer is a blog from John Bolch of Winch & Winch, Chatham and Snodland, Kent. It provides a useful set of updates for family lawyers.
  • Bradshaw Dixon Moore provides actuarially-based professional services to solicitors and other legal advisors relating to pensions and pension valuations. As well as paid products, there is a free calculator on the site to determine the typical value of total pension assets for an individual based on their age, current earnings and years in pensionable employment. There are a number of other downloads relating to how pensions are split in divorce.
  • Garden Court Chambers have created a bank of specialist legal resources relevant to their practice areas including Family Legal Resources (take "Resources" and then "Legal Resources"). Within each of these legal areas, they have then set up around a dozen sub topics where they have located cases, relevant legislation and useful links. The areas they cover under Family are Adoption, Ancillary Relief, Applications under the Family Law Act 1996, Child Abuse, Child Abduction, Civil Partnership, Domestic Violence, Immigration & Family issues, Public Interest Immunity, Public Law Children Act 1989 and Private Law Children Act 1989.
  • ACAL (Association of Child Abuse Lawyers) provides a "News" page with information on recent cases and also a set of links to related web sites. There is a Newsletter, a training programme and a members' area.
  • Getting your Get is a free online booklet, providing information for Jewish men and women in England, Wales and Scotland about divorce according to Jewish law. The booklet, written by solicitors Sharon Faith and Deanna Levine, also contains articles, forms and information for lawyers with divorcing Jewish clients. It has been favourably reviewed by Her Honour Judge Dawn Freedman. The booklet is in pdf format and can be downloaded from the site.
  • David Hodson, international divorce lawyer, provides articles and resources for family lawyers including information related to ADR and the Brussels conventions.
  • The Child Support Agency.
  • International Family Law Chambers - London, offer information on divorce in several countries, articles and papers on international divorce and family law by David Truex and an extensive set of links in this general area.
  • International Divorce Law Office offers information about divorce in many different countries on the site and the firm offers legal services to people and lawyers around the world.
  • Manches provides detailed information on topics like tax, financial orders, pensions splitting, the Hague Convention relating to children's custody, forum shopping, pre-nuptuals, co-habitation, human rights and generally topics far removed from 95% of "normal" divorces. There is information on relevant statues, and the site could be a good resource for solicitors meeting slightly more unusual situations as well as people divorcing.
  • The UK College of Family Mediators sets standards for family mediation and maintains a register of family mediator members who meet those standards; it works to promote best practice in family mediation and to protect the public. The site provides a list of members and various forms, codes of practice and policies.
  • Sharing Pensions is a very informative site site focused on the division of pension rights resulting from UK divorce. The website is an independent financial advisers (IFA) view, providing information for family lawyers, their clients, individuals involved in marriage breakdown and divorce, pension scheme managers and those with an interest in retirement planning. The site includes an extensive glossary explaining terms found in marriage breakdown and retirement planning and also offers a valuation service from IFA pension experts.
  • Care Costs Law and Information is aimed at Lawyers, or anyone with an interest in the area, who wants to keep up to date with developments in the area of Care Costs, particularly relating to "Continuing Health Care" in the UK. It covers news reports (national and local), statute and case law, Local Authority, Parliamentary and Government pronouncements, and publications generally and is written by care costs lawyer Martin Ryan. The strap line to the site is "Care Costs – a time bomb waiting to explode".

    Financial Advice for Clients

  • SIFA (Solicitors Independent Financial Advice) is the Law Society and FSA-recognised representative body for financial advisers who work with solicitors. SIFA also provides a COLP and COFA support service.

    Food Law

  • Food Law Pages from the Department of Food Science & Technology at the University of Reading

    Freedom of Information

    This section has been combined with Data Protection and Privacy

    Gateways and Legal Communities

    I now have a special page for this here.

    Government, the Courts and Legal Aid

    Starting with GOV.UK
  • GOV.UK is the Government's over-arching portal for (eventually) all Government services and information.
    This is designed to replace the hundreds of existing Government sites with a consistent interface, comprehensive search facilities and user-focused experience. The process of moving sites onto the new portal started in late 2012 and is designed to take the best part of two years. The "Services and information" list on the home page includes these (each of which have many more subdivisions and sub topics):
  • Driving and transport - Includes car tax, MOT and driving licences
  • Benefits- Includes tax credits, eligibility and appeals
  • Businesses and self-employed - Tools and guidance for businesses
  • Employing people - Includes pay, contracts and hiring
  • Passports, travel and living abroad - Includes renewing passports and travel advice by country
  • Education and learning - Includes student loans and admissions
  • Working, jobs and pensions - Includes holidays and finding a job
  • Housing and local services - Owning or renting and council services
  • Crime, justice and the law - Legal processes, courts and the police
  • Money and tax - Includes debt and Self Assessment
  • Births, deaths, marriages and care - Parenting, civil partnerships, divorce and Lasting Power of Attorney
  • Disabled people - Includes carers, your rights, benefits and the Equality Act
  • Citizenship and living in the UK - Voting, community participation, life in the UK, international projects.

    Under "Crime, justice and the law" (subtitled "legal processes, courts and the police") are the following sections:

  • Courts, sentencing and tribunals - Attending courts, paying fines, appealing a sentence and tribunals
  • Prisons and probation - Sentencing, probation and support for families of prisoners
  • Reporting crimes and getting compensation - Including criminal injuries compensation and reporting suspected crimes
  • Young people and the law - Includes legal rights, youth offending teams and crime prevention
  • Your rights and the law - Includes being arrested, cautions, discrimination and consumer rights

    However, most of the information required by lawyers is still on the previous Ministry of Justice site including:

  • Procedure rules
  • Daily court lists
  • Prison finder
  • Court fees
  • Employment Tribunal guidance
  • Claims management regulation
  • Forms, including Court forms,Tribunals, Criminal injuries compensation, Mental Capacity Act, asting Power of Attorney forms
  • Statistics relating to courts, crime, prisons,etc
    All this will presumably be moving over to the GOV.UK site although the timing is not clear.

  • The Home Office provides a vast array of reports and links to other related bodies, e.g. police, prisons, immigration, data protection and research and statistics. There is a subject index and a searching mechanism.
  • The Attorney General's Office (AGO) provides high quality legal and strategic policy advice and support to the Attorney General and the Solicitor General (the Law Officers). The Attorney General's main responsibilities are:
    •Chief legal adviser to the Government and Parliament
    •Guardian of the rule of law and the public interest
    •Superintendence of the prosecuting departments
    The Attorney General and the Solicitor General are also Criminal Justice Ministers.
  • Government Gateway is a centralised registration service for e-Government services in the UK which allows you to sign up for any of the Government's services that are available over the Internet for example, Self Assessment, PAYE Internet Services for Employers and Electronic VAT Returns. You are provided with a User ID and a digital certificate which then enables you to send and receive forms, such as Tax returns and VAT returns without having to enter your personal details every time.
  • The Scottish Government site. The devolved government for Scotland is responsible for most of the issues of day-to-day concern to the people of Scotland, including health, education, justice, rural affairs, and transport. The Scottish Government was known as the Scottish Executive when it was established in 1999 following the first elections to the Scottish Parliament. The current administration was formed after elections in May 2007.
  • The Central Government Web Archive, part of the National Archives, is a selective collection of UK Government websites, archived from August 2003.
  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible for promoting British interests overseas and also provides information on all foreign briefings and statements.

    Court System

    News - Case management and electronic filing for the court system - big new contract in May 2014

  • C-Track is Thomson Reuters' court management and filing solution designed to capture, track, process and report on court information and keep cases moving through the judicial process. The web-based software, designed to solve the complexity of appellate and trial court case flow, can be configured to operate with multiple agency or partner products to ensure a seamless and efficient workflow solution. Thomson Reuters has won the contract after an extensive procurement exercise. Apparently, the software has been developed and extended over a 15 year period and will now be deployed across the jurisdictions within the Rolls building.

  • The Justice website was launched in April 2011 as the Government’s attempt to bring together all web sites related to the UK Justice system for the professional user although it is now being steadily replaced by the Government's overall portal GOV.UK. In the meantime....
  • Her Majesty's Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Their remit is to deliver justice effectively and efficiently to the public. They are responsible for managing the magistrates’ courts, the Crown Court, county courts, the High Court and Court of Appeal in England and Wales. HMCS is structured into 25 areas within 7 regions, together with the Royal Courts of Justice group whose role includes the administration of the Court of Appeal, High Court and Probate Service. For lawyers, there are Court lists, court addresses, forms and guidance, minimum terms and practice directions. There is also access to daily lists for the Supreme Court, XHIBIT for information on Crown Courts and access to The Supreme Court Costs Office.
  • HMCTS forms and leaflets provides a list of forms/leaflets that are supplied by HMCTS to the public. The list is growing and will apparently be added to regularly. You can search for the form you need by title or form number or type of work.
  • The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases. It hears appeals in criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population. It assumes the jurisdiction of the current Appellate Committee of the House of Lords and the devolution jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The court is an independent institution, presided over by independently appointed law lords. It is housed in the historic Middlesex Guildhall on London's Parliament Square - opposite the Houses of Parliament and alongside Westminster Abbey and the Treasury, the Guildhall having been renovated for this purpose. It opened at the start of the legal year in October 2009. There is now a Decided Cases section with a press report of the case (typically one page) as well as the text of the full judgment.
    The Supreme Court on YouTube!`
  • The Supreme Court has launched its own YouTube channel showing videos of judgments being handed down. There are around 30 judgments on there now, from 2013, as well as some older ones from the latter part of 2012.
  • And whilst on the subject of the Supreme Court, there is an interesting history and analysis on the Guardian's Law Section here - The UK supreme court: an interactive history. The history starts in 1399 (the time of Henry Bollingbroke) and continues to the present day, with more recent periods described with a Summary of the key judgments emanating from that time.
  • The UK Supreme Court is the topic of a new blog from Matrix and the Litigation Department of Olswang LLP. The authors are solicitors and barristers specialising in litigation and with a particular interest in the work of the House of Lords and the UK Supreme Court. Both Matrix and Olswang were instructed in cases decided by the historic final sitting of the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords in July, and members of Matrix will present the first case in the Supreme Court when it commences sitting in October, concerning the legality of UN sanctions regimes which freeze the property and funds of suspected terrorists. The introduction to the blog says "This blog is dedicated to the UK Supreme Court. The UK Supreme Court is the UK's highest court; its judgments bind lower courts and thus shape the development of English Law. Since 1399, the Law Lords, the judges of the most senior court in the country, have sat within Parliament. From October 2009, however, they will move to an independent court in the Middlesex Guildhall. To mark this historic development, this blog has been set up to provide commentary on the UK Supreme Court and its judgments."
  • Judiciary of England and Wales is the website of the judges, magistrates and tribunal members in England and Wales. It is not part of Government, MoJ or Parliament but prides itself on being strictly independent. The site is designed as an information resource for members of the public and covers the functions of the judiciary with information on who the judges are, when they site, judgments, sentencing, practice directions and many related topics, together with news of current issues, news items and reports. There are interviews, surveys and even a quiz.
  • Judiciary of Scotland is designed to increase public understanding and awareness of what takes place in courts each day across Scotland. There is information about judges and the work they do in each of the different courts as well as helpful advice for individuals attending court or wanting to learn more about the system. There is up-to-date information on the latest sentencing statements and summaries of opinions, fatal accident inquiry determinations and other major court decisions in Scotland.
  • The Free Representation Unit (FRU) is a charity that provides legal advice, case preparation and advocacy in employment, social security, some immigration and criminal injury compensation tribunal cases. The people who are able to take advantage of this are those who could not otherwise obtain legal support for want of personal means and public funding. To provide the service they train volunteer law students and legal professionals in the early stages of their career in the skills required to give confident and competent support for the rights of others. There are about 270 volunteer representatives active in any year.
  • London Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) - an unofficial page prepared by Jonathan Goodliffe (the main court does not yet have its own official web site). The web site contains links to useful materials, reports and press coverage.
  • Deighton Pierce Glynn cover public law, discrimination law and human rights particularly relating to judicial reviews. There is extensive information on this topic on the site.
  • Money Claim Online (MCOL) enables people to issue a claim via the internet for a fixed sum under £100,000. There is a fee to pay and the claimant fills in a number of screens online to set up the claim. The service also enables a claimant to enter judgment, file an acknowledgement of service or defence and apply for a warrant of execution, online.
  • Possession Claim Online (PCOL) is a service provided by Her Majesty's Courts Service for claims in County Courts for residential property brought by a landlord against a tenant, solely on the ground of arrears of rent (but not a claim for forfeiture of a lease) or a mortgagee against a mortgagor, solely on the ground of default in the payment of sums due under a mortgage. In other words, the site allows for straightforward claims with no extra complications but if the various conditions apply, the claim can be launched online and also defended online. Fees are paid by credit card online. These systems can be used by solicitors processing multiple claims as well as individuals.
  • Telephone Hearings is a site about the new telephone hearing scheme for the Country Courts. At the beginning of April 2007 a new practice direction relating to Telephone Hearings was published. This heralds a dramatic increase in the use of telephone hearings, as well as a standardisation of the procedures, making them more simple, easy to use and reliable. The site (and the service) is provided by LegalConnect, the leading provider of conference call services and virtual meeting room solutions to lawyers in the UK.
  • Tribunals Service is now part of Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service. You can find all tribunals on this site.
  • The Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC) keeps under review the administrative justice system as a whole with a view to making it accessible, fair and efficient. They seek to ensure that the relationships between the courts, tribunals, there are special committees (and sections of the web site) for Scotland and Wales.
  • Northern Ireland Office deals in particular with political and constitutional matters as they relate to Northern Ireland as well as law & order, policing and criminal justice policy and community relations.
  • The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service was established in 1979, by the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978, as a separate civil service in Northern Ireland. The Court Service reports to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs. There are selected Judgments and Practice Directions on the site.
  • Scottish Courts Web Site provides information relating to all civil and criminal courts within Scotland, including the Court of Session, the High Court of Justiciary, the Sheriff Courts and a number of other courts, commissions and tribunals as well the District Courts.
  • The Crown Prosecution Service is responsible for prosecuting people in England and Wales charged by the police with a criminal offence.
  • The Law Commission provides details of law currently being reviewed under categories of Common Law, Company & Commercial Law, Criminal Law, Property & Trust Law and Statute Law.
  • UK Official Publications - complete catalogue of all official publications including both Stationery Office publications and departmental or "non-Stationery Office" publications.

    Legal Services Commission and other sites related to Legal Aid

  • The Legal Service Commission (LSC) runs the legal aid scheme in England and Wales. The Commission works in partnership with solicitors and not-for-profit organisations to help over 2 million people each year access legal advice, information and help. The Commission is responsible for the development and administration of two schemes in England and Wales:
  • The Community Legal Advice Service which assists people in civil matters and
  • The Criminal Defence Service (CDS) which guarantees that people under police investigation or facing criminal charges can get legal advice and representation There is a great deal of free information and access to other bodies providing free legal information on these two sites, above. The Legal Service Commission site itself is however aimed at the providers of information and legal aid. Solicitors and other organisations have to meet certain standards if they wish to be included in the scheme. Organisations which have met the Commission's standards will display the Community Legal Service Quality Mark or CDS logo.
  • The Scottish Legal Aid Board is responsible for managing legal aid in Scotland.
  • The Legal Aid Practitioners Group represents over 600 firms of High Street Solicitors, committed to legal aid work. There is news on legal aid developments and information on lobbying, meetings and events.
  • Young Legal Aid Lawyers is a group of lawyers who are committed to practising in those areas of law, both criminal and civil, that have traditionally been publicly funded. The group includes those who are still studying and training as well as recently qualified barristers and solicitors. They believe in the importance of good quality representation and advice at all levels to those who could otherwise not afford it. They have chosen to commit themselves to legally aided work despite the current lack of financial sponsorship or reward. There is news of developments in legal aid provision and responses from the group.

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