Elizabeth Willsteed appointed as Family Recorder

Chambers are delighted to announce Elizabeth is one of the 159 Recorders appointed by The Queen on the advice of the Lord Chancellor, The Right Honourable Robert Buckland QC MP, and the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, The Right Honourable The Lord Burnett of Maldon.

The appointments will take effect from 16 September 2019 and Elizabeth is assigned to the Midland Circuit. Elizabeth will continue to practice from chambers and accept instructions in her specialist areas.

Recent Amendments to Practice Direction 28A and the Costs Consequences of Open Offers to Settle in Financial Remedy Proceedings.

Recent amendments to Family Procedure Rules 2010 Practice Direction 28A (PD28A) have helped clarify the Court’s approach to costs in financial remedy proceedings where one party has failed to engage reasonably in negotiations.

The relevant parts of Rule 28.3 have not changed, it is still the case that:
• The general rule in financial remedy proceedings is that the Court will not make an order for one party to pay the costs of another party (r28.3(5))
• The Court may make a costs order where it considers it appropriate to do so because of the conduct of a party in relation to the proceedings (r28.3(6))
• In deciding what order (if any) to make in respect of costs the court must have regard to the list of criteria in r28.3(7) including any open offers to settle.

Previously PD28A did not offer any further assistance to the Judge to decide what weight to give to the fact that open offers had or had not been made when assessing the ‘conduct’ of a party for the purposes of r28.3(6).

The Practice Direction has been amended as of 27th May 2019 to give greater guidance. It now states at para 4.4 that when considering a party’s litigation conduct:
“The Court will take a broad view of conduct for the purposes of this rule and will generally conclude that to refuse openly to negotiate reasonably and responsibly will amount to conduct in respect of which the Court will consider making an order for costs. This includes in a ‘needs’ case where the applicant litigates unreasonably resulting in the costs incurred by each party becoming disproportionate to the award made by the Court. Where an order for costs is made at an interim stage the Court will not usually allow any resulting liability to be reckoned as a debt in the computation of the assets.”

This amendment stops a long way short of the civil procedure style costs consequences where a failure to ‘beat’ an offer made by the other party will frequently mean paying a proportion of the other party’s costs. However it does emphasise that where a party fails to make reasonable open offers to settle they will be at risk of a costs order against them. There is specific encouragement to ensure that ‘needs’ cases are conducted reasonably and proportionately. The steer from the Practice Direction is clear, where limited resources are available to house the parties etc these resources should not be eaten up in legal costs caused by the unreasonable litigation stance of one party and unreasonable litigants even in ‘needs’ cases are at risk of costs orders.

It remains to be seen how the Court will approach such matters but this amendment makes it much clearer to parties that a failure to negotiate reasonably opens them up to adverse costs consequences.

The Family Procedure Rule Committee has also opened up consultation on the question of the treatment of Calderbank (without prejudice save as to costs) offers when determining issues relating to costs. The consultation ends on 31st October 2019 and can be found at:

https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/treatment-of-calderbank-offers-consultation/

Susan Campbell QC welcomed back as a full member of chambers.

Members of Chambers are delighted to welcome Susan Campbell QC back to chambers as a full member. Susan who lives in the Devon, was joint Head of Southernhay Chambers before taking silk and has been an associate member over the past 10 years.

Susan’s practice takes her to courts throughout England and Wales but she finds herself practising often in the West Country where she lives and has a large client base.

Susan has expertise in cases involving serous injury and death to children, factitious illness, and she has a a particular experience in cases involving learned disabled parents. A large part of her practice concerns fact finding hearings relating to emotional harm, sexual abuse and neglect. She also deals with private law cases, cases involving cross-jurisdictional issues and abduction, and matters in the Court of Protection.

Susan has a longstanding link with Pump Court Chambers in London where she continues to have a door tenancy.

Rupert Chapman

Rupert Chapman ranked by Chambers and Partners 2019 for Family/Matrimonial

Chambers congratulates Rupert on his second accolade of the week by being ranked by Chambers and Partners.

Rupert is acknowledged for his handling of cases involving matrimonial finance disputes and private law children matters. Many of his cases straddle multiple jurisdictions around the world.
“An excellent advocate who is always willing to go the extra mile for clients. He is very approachable and has an excellent knowledge of family law and procedure.” “Gets to grips with complex matters easily.”

Carol Mashembo ranked by Chambers and Partners 2019 for Family/Matrimonial

Chambers congratulates the second success this week for Carol with the rankings for Chambers and Partner being announced today.

Carol has a diverse family practice encompassing cohabitation disputes, financial remedies and private children law. She has over 15 years’ experience and is used to handling cases that involve dealing with litigants in person. She is increasingly active in litigation relating to same-sex relationships.

“Very organised and very good at cross-examination.” “She is hard-working, very well prepared and very clever. Clients love her.”

Christopher Naish ranked in Band 1 by Chambers and Partners 2019 for Family/Matrimonial

Chambers is delighted to congratulate Christopher for being ranked by Chambers and Partners again this year for his work in the field of Family/Matrimonial Law.

Has a broad practice, acting for guardians, parents and local authorities on private and public children law matters, as well as being able to handle complex financial remedy cases. He is proficient in disputes concerning trusts of land.

“Christopher’s knowledge of family law is second to none and he is an excellent advocate. He also quickly and easily establishes an excellent working relationship with clients.” “Friendly, approachable and effective.”

Rupert Chapman

Rupert Chapman is Individually ranked as tier 1 Leading Junior in the 2018 Legal 500

Chambers is delighted to congratulate Rupert on his ranking by the Legal 500 again this year in the area of Family and Children:  He is the proud head of our family team which is  noted for it’s ‘strength in depth’, with members acting in, among other areas, cases involving allegations of sexual abuse and non-accidental injuries, care proceedings and financial remedy matters.

Rupert is noted for  ‘His bedside manner with vulnerable clients is excellent.

Rupert Chapman

Carol Mashembo is Individually ranked as tier 1 Leading Junior in the 2018 Legal 500

Chambers is delighted to congratulate Carol on her ranking by the Legal 500 again this year in the area of Family and Children:  which has ‘strength in depth’ in its family team, with members acting in, among other areas, cases involving allegations of sexual abuse and non-accidental injuries, care proceedings and financial remedy matters.

Carol is described as ‘An expert in her field.

Carol Mashembo