Law firm Hall Brown leads charge to save ‘life-changing’ family court
A family law firm based in London and Manchester is taking steps to save a pioneering court system that helps prevent the children of parents addicted to drugs or alcohol from being taken into care.
The co-founders of Hall Brown Family Law have taken part in talks at the House of Lords to safeguard the future of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) National Unit.
The Unit could close in September due to a lack of funds, despite ministers and the judiciary hailing it as the central hub for one of the most important family law developments in decades.
England’s most senior family judge, Sir James Munby, last month called the prospect of the Unit’s closure “profoundly disturbing”.
Hall Brown managing partner James Brown and senior partner Sam Hall have met with retired district judge Nicholas Crichton, who helped establish the FDAC in 2008, and the Earl of Listowel, one of the system’s most prominent parliamentary supporters.
Sam described the exchange as “immensely positive” and outlined how Hall Brown is pledging £12,500 in each of the next three years towards the FDAC’s yearly £250k running cost.
Now, Sam and James are calling on 19 other family law firms to donate a similar amount.
Sam said: “We recognise the tremendously delicate nature of the work undertaken by the FDAC over the course of the last decade and the life-changing results which it has already yielded for many families.
“Having listened in person to the concerns of Mr Crichton and Sir James about the potential consequences of such a service not being available, we decided that it was important to act.”
He continued: “We do not deal with the kind of cases which FDAC handles, cases which are highly specialised in nature.
“However, we and every one of our legal peers understand how vital this work is. We are optimistic, therefore, that our proposal will be supported by other firms and the FDAC National Unit can be saved.”
The FDAC’s team of social workers, psychiatrists, substance misuse specialists and domestic violence experts work to change the lives of parents who come before the court.
Families involved see the same judge every two weeks as their progress is monitored. According to Hall Brown, research shows that out of 90 families who had been through the FDAC system, nearly half of mothers and one-quarter of fathers stopped their substance abuse by the end of the process – a higher success rate than ordinary care proceedings.
The cash crisis emerged after the Department for Education, which has funded the Unit since its inception, stated that no further cash would be made available.
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