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I must bring a swing next time…

Was involved in a Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 case at Newtownards Magistrates’ Courts today. I was in Court 4 on the upper level.

There is a picture of the outside of it here but it really doesn’t convey the 1970’s décor and various mould growths that thrive in this building. It also has what I think might be the highest ceiling of any consultation room I have ever been in, and I made a note to bring a swing with me next time, to pass away the time until my client came. It is either that or look at my bones through the blinding interrogation room style lights that blaze down on you from at least 12 feet up. Explains why the room was free, and vacant.

Without a doubt the top floor of Newtownards court gets my vote as the worst environment to assist in family law cases in the United Kingdom. It’s basically a bus queue of people all standing on top of each other in a corridor no more than 6 feet wide, with supposedly private and confidential business echoing down the corridor. Even sign language echoes.  The rest of  the public who don’t make it into the 1970’s Siberian bread queue snake down the stairs like a massive conga, all jauntily balanced like an Olympic hopscotch team. As well as that the place is sweltering hot, even on a cold winters day like today.

It is also clearly an excellent place to put up Continuous Professional Development posters, as while waiting for my client today I heard a woman told by her solicitor that she wouldn’t get residence of her two children because she only saw them 2 days EVERY week! It was as much as I could do to stop myself from telling her what a load of old tosh that was and that Shared Residence was achievable at that level, to ditch her solicitor, give me a ring at Family Court Support and we will take it from there. Then I realised that I couldn’t move my arms to get my business cards out such was the crush.

I wasnt permitted to take any pictures whilst in the courthouse so I can’t show our readers what I mean about the facilities, but I have no doubt the pictures would have been over exposed due to the lighthouse bulbs, and the lenses would have fogged up from the heady mixture of body odour and the oil fired central heating . What have the Northern Ireland Court Service got against air conditioning?

If you know a worse court building, or even better if you can make a great building sound like a derelict warehouse, comment away.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • McKenzie December 21, 2009, 11:43 pm

    It’s OK, we have all been there 🙂 Email me personally if you want at help@mckenziefriend.com

  • Anon December 21, 2009, 11:39 pm

    Sorry, i know, was just trying to find anything online that could help and came across. Saw this and has commented without thinking, was still angry and upset at the verdict. Sorry! 🙁

  • McKenzie December 20, 2009, 9:01 pm

    Thanks for reading the blog, and bothering to post on one of our lighter topics.

    I can tell from your IP address that you posted this article from Northern Ireland, which probably explains what happened in your ‘friends’ case.

    My original point wasn’t that courts don’t award shared residence, as that pretty much goes without saying in nearly every court in Northern Ireland. Social workers (who mostly do the Welfare reports in Northern Ireland) don’t understand shared residence, and think that it means 50/50 shared care and nothing else. Question is are the social workers causing the Children Order case law to stagnate or are they merely mimicking the judiciary by opposing shared residence?

    My original point was that the lawyer didn’t advise the mother that shared residence was an option even though it clearly was.

  • Anon December 19, 2009, 11:00 pm

    “I heard a woman told by her solicitor that she wouldn’t get residence of her two children because she only saw them 2 days EVERY week! It was as much as I could do to stop myself from telling her what a load of old tosh that was”

    Really? Because a friend of mine picked his daughter up on Sunday mornings, back Monday mornings, picked her up Tuesdays evening, back Wednesday evenings, wanted more but this is all his wife would allow, and still lost. He now has a 7 hour round trip to pick her up and leave her back, every other weekend!!
    He was told during the trial that if he didn’t want to continue it was fine- the judges had basically made up their minds- BEFORE he gave evidence!!

    There is alot more things messed up in the courts than the decor.