Conflicts of Interest in the Family Division
One interesting aspect of Family Law is the role of the Guardian Ad Litem. In theory this is someone who is appointed to represent the interests of the child.
The problem is that although the individual concerned works for CAFCASS the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service actually they are in fact another arm of the state.
Furthermore firms of solicitors who act for parents on legal aid may also act for the state. We, therefore, have a substantial conflict of interest with the legal advisors also working for the state.
The Chair of the CAFCASS board is a working Labour Peer and the Chief Executive is someone who previously was a director of Social Services in Havering.
There are those who honestly believe that being in the care of the local authority is a good thing for children. The evidence is that this is not the case. It does strike me as a conflict of interest and indeed an offence against the principle of "equality of arms" to have CAFCASS representing the interests of children.
The real test, of course, is one as to to what extent the Guardian Ad Litem tries to keep children away from care when social services are arguing for a child to be taken into care.