FLiP and Kingsley Napley launch 3rd edition of Schedule 1 to the Children Act

Back in 2008, the first edition of our book on financial claims for children under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 weighed in at a scant 46,000 words. I don’t think that Charlotte Bradley at Kingsley Napley and I have become more verbose since then but our latest edition, the 3rd edition, is a good five times longer. This is because there has been a lot developing in the “schedule one” jurisdiction, which has started to reach out to further sorts of situation – but perhaps more importantly, that reach seems to become more nuanced with each reported judgment.

Charlotte and I have therefore been privileged to have had a good two years plus to sift through all that has gone on and to think about what that now tell us about how a court is likely to react to different situations.

The Honourable Mr Justice Cobb has so generously provided a foreword noting that “the authors dismantle the jurisdiction, describe its characteristics, and re-assemble it, all with the pragmatic eye of the practitioner.”

Inevitably our conclusion has elements of “it depends”:

  • Some judges will be persuaded that to use the extended child support formula for high earners is the right thing.  Others will focus on the reasonableness of the applicant’s budgetary ask;
  • Some will operate pragmatically and flexibly around accumulated debt, and others will refuse to dip a toe in saying that if debt was built up when the Child Maintenance Service had jurisdiction then their feet are tied.
  • There will always be variety around the scale of need and now we have the first of the cases that extends provision beyond the university years.
  • There is clearly a range of responses likely in how legal fees provision will be operated and whether costs orders are going to be made at the end of the day.

Around all of this uncertainty are also some pretty robust likelihoods. What should now be possible is for practitioners to get closer towards the likely outcome at an earlier stage so that those who are faced with the predicament of provision are able to negotiate with that in mind.  For many this should permit deals to be done: the earlier the discussion, the greater the funds that can be saved.  In a regime where the bulk of the funds are needed for housing but the housing is only on loan there must be every reason to reach agreement rather than see monies spent on legal fees on that debate. We give some focus to the away-from-court solution – albeit that it will be anchored for most in the outcome likely from the Child Maintenance Service.

We accept that the structure of the solutions will often be problematic and we are strong supporters of arbitration – at least to work out the difficulties around house purchase and holding.

We hope that providing an online and fully searchable book for the price of a donation to one of our two chosen charities may enable the guidance that we have assembled with the help of some of the real legal leaders to become well disseminated.

That this regime becomes better known and more used is likely to be for the good.  Where claims are made and provision is ordered, it is resolutely targeted on the financial needs of children. And enabling more children to be brought up with the financial support of both parents is likely to better promote their well-being.

The book is available for download in exchange for a donation to one of our chosen charities, The Hampton Trust (via this link) and NACCC (via this link). The suggested donation is: £100 for firms/teams; £30 for individuals. Once you have made your donation, please email Matilda Pigneguy at FLiP (mp@flip.co.uk) to receive a downloadable copy of the book.