Solicitors in Letchworth, Herts

We provide client focused advice in our core areas of legal expertise: Family Law, Children Law and Personal Injury Law. We listen carefully to the needs of our clients and provide a personal service.

GC Solicitors are an established Hertfordshire law firm with a strong local focus. Based in Letchworth, our specialist teams offer a range of expert legal services to our clients.
Family Law solicitor Letchworth

Family Law

We understand how distressing a marriage/relationship breakdown can be, and our solicitors are trained to sensitively advise and guide you throughout this emotional and distressing time.
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Children law solicitor Letchworth

Children Law

Our experienced specialist solicitors can advise you in this highly sensitive and complicated area of Law involving the Local Authority and Social Services.
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Personal Injury Law solicitor Letchworth

Personal Injury Law

If you have suffered an injury our expert team of solicitors can guide you through the claims process and advise you throughout while you concentrate on your recovery.
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What our clients are saying about us

Our Accreditations

Letchworth Solicitors - community legal service
Letchworth Solicitors - personal injury accredited
Letchworth Solicitors - children law accredited
Letchworth Solicitors - association of costs lawyers
Letchworth Solicitors - costs lawyer standards board

Latest News

Cafcass Figures Show that Care Proceedings are being Issued at an All-time High
The most recent Cafcass publications taken from their website www.cafcass.gov.uk shows that care proceedings are being issued at an all-time high. The reasoning behind this could simply be overzealous local authority’s or alternatively an increased awareness of the basic care needs of children being shared with social services by schools, GPs, and or referrals from family, friends, and even neighbours. 
 
If these concerns are grave enough to alert the local authority, and the local authority believes that the child is being neglected (e.g. missing GP appointments, children not attending school, children seen to be unkempt, children not being adequately fed, children being subjected to emotional or psychical abuse, sexual abuse) that may be a serious cause for concern.
 
In June 2017 Cafcass received a total of 1,330 care applications, which is the highest monthly figure ever. This figure represents a 19% increase compared to those received in June 2015. It appears to be the highest ever monthly figure.          

If the above affects you or anyone you know then please feel free to contact our specialist childcare team on 01462 483 800 who will be more than willing to take on your matter.
 
By Sara Dobson and Vyonne Manuel
 
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Care Proceedings - Damages Awarded for Misuse and or Abuse of Section 20
Following on from the  introduction to misuse and or abuse of Section 20 agreements the law has been holding local authorities liable and awarding both parents and children damages for this wrongdoing. The circumstances vary on a case by case basis.  However, if your child has been wrongfully accommodated under Section 20 contact our experienced panel of childcare lawyers who will advise you on the best course of action.  
 
To give an example, Williams & Anon v London Borough of Hackney is a landmark case and one of the first where damages have been awarded under the Human Rights Act in childcare proceedings.
 
According to the judgment the child told police that he had been beaten by his father with a belt after one of the children was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting 8 years ago and this subsequently led to all 8 children being wrongfully removed from their parents care.
 
Deputy High Court Judge Sir Robert Francis QC said:
If ever there was a case illustrating the challenges that face children, parents, public authorities and the court when concerns are raised about the safety and welfare of the children it is this.’
 
When police visited the home they declared it was not in a fit state for the children to live in, and took them away. The police protection powers allowed the children to be removed from their parents care for up to 72 hours and Hackney Council in London stated that the parents’ consented to their children being accommodated by the local authority under the auspices of section 20 of the Children Act 1989. The judge disagreed stating that no valid consent was obtained as there was no evidence the parents were told to seek legal advice and because their distressed state led them to believe they would never see their children again unless they signed the agreement. Francis said that although the initial 72 was lawful, it was unlawful for the local authority to keep the children beyond 72 hours.
 
Francis said:
A swift consideration of the welfare issues concluded that if some simple improvements were made to their home, the children could return home. Yet it was two months before the children returned to their parents after experiencing a variety of foster placements, some of which were of dubious quality.’
 
He further added:
This was undoubtedly a close family presided over by loving parents. They were extremely distressed by the continued separation from their children and constantly voiced their anxieties in that regard to the defendants. They witnessed the adverse effects of foster care on more than one of their children, one of whom was a baby who was just being breast fed.’
 
The parents whose children were unlawfully removed by a local authority have been awarded £10,000 each in damages for a breach of their right to a family life.
 
If you are a parent unfortunate enough to be going through the process of care proceedings, our panel of experienced childcare lawyers will be more than willing to assist you and make their best endeavours to ensure the safe return of your children to your care.
 
By Vyonne Manuel, April 2018
 
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Care Proceedings - Has your child been wrongfully removed from your care under a Section 20 agreement?

What is a Section 20 Agreement?  A Section 20 agreement allows the local authority to accommodate your child on a temporary basis. This agreement must be by consent of persons with parental responsibility for the child(ren) in question. There is no legal requirement stipulating that this agreement needs to be in writing; however, the consenting parties must be capacitous and understand the ramifications of consenting to such an agreement.
 
In simpler terms, the parents must understand why their child(ren) are being removed, must understand that this is a temporary measure and that if the local authority wish for this to be a long term measure that an application must be made to the courts, must understand that their consent can be withdrawn at any time and that the local authority must return the child to the parents care or alternatively seek an order from the court for continued accommodation after withdrawal of consent. 
 
Misuse of Section 20 Agreement ‘must stop’.  Sir James Munby identified four problems with the current use of Section 20:
  1. Failure of councils to get informed consent from the parents from the outset.
  2. How consent is recorded by local authorities. There is no requirement, in law, for the agreement to be in or evidenced by writing, “but a prudent local authority will surely always wish to ensure that an alleged parental consent in such a case is properly recorded in writing and evidenced by the parents’ signature,” Munby said.
  3. That section 20 arrangements are allowed to continue for far too long.
  4. Local authorities are reluctant to return the child to the parent(s) immediately after parental consent is withdrawn.
Munby called the misuse “not just a matter of bad practice” and insisted: “It is wrong; it is a denial of the fundamental rights of both the parent and the child; it will no longer be tolerated; and it must stop.”
 
There has been an abundance of recent case law setting out instances where children have been wrongfully removed from the care of their parent(s). 
 
Are you a parent who has experienced this; if the answer is yes, look no further, contact GC Solicitors on 01462 483 800 and we will advise you on the best course of action and fight your corner, based on your individual experiences.

Vyonne Manuel,  March 2018
 
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