My name is John Wilson, I am the York Office Supervising Solicitor, I live with my family in rural North Yorkshire.
Today, after breakfast, I went for a walk on a country lane near my House. I was reminded of the words of Christina Rossetti, in “In the Bleak Mid-Winter” – “Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone”, as I walked past a very frozen puddle and walked on the hard, icy ground.
As I turned on my computer in my home office, I received a call from a client for whom we have obtained a non-molestation order. She tells me her ex-partner has rigged up a camera to watch her. I advised her to contact the police urgently to report his continued harassment.
I live with my wife & 2 adult children. I can faintly hear my daughter, a maths teacher, engaging in a “virtual assembly” with her class, then teaching them by video link.
I check my many emails from over the weekend, they include lots about a current care case which a barrister is dealing with for me today, I then read two position statements, before forwarding them on to my client to read and check. One of the emails was an Amazon voucher, a runners-up prize in the firm’s Winter Wonderland Photos Competition!
Eventually I get to the end of my inbox.
The first part of the morning involves a lot of phone calls. I read through some papers for a telephone hearing, for an on notice non molestation order, (where the respondent has been told in advance about the application and is invited to attend). It was to be heard at 11:00 am so beforehand I spoke to both our client and the respondent. He was quite awkward. The hearing took place, at Kingston Upon Hull Family Court. At first, the District Judge was a little uncertain about granting the order, until the respondent started talking at great length and in the process admitted a number of the matters in my client’s statement! The District Judge had to ask him to be quiet more than once and, in the end, the non-molestation order was granted. Our client was incredibly happy. The District Judge asked me to prepare the Order for him and to send it to the Court for approval.
Straight after that hearing I had to speak to another client and the respondent’s solicitor about my next telephone hearing listed at 12 Noon the same day, again at Kingston Upon Hull Family Court. The hearing was about an application which arose after we obtained a non-molestation order a little while ago. This time my client was instructing me to seek a prohibited steps order to protect her 3 children and prevent the respondent removing them from her care and to ensure that they are returned after agreed contact, plus a child arrangements order (live with) to confirm their home base is with my client. The respondent wanted regular contact with the children which was problematic due to his behaviour.
I attended this second telephone hearing for about an hour, before a Court Legal Advisor and there were several areas of dispute. It was finally agreed that the case would be moved from being heard by Magistrates (who are not legally qualified), to be heard by a District Judge. I was also asked to file the draft order.
Before breaking for Lunch, I spoke to one of our Paralegals, Adam. Adam had been before the same District Judge as me for a different client. He updated me on how he had got on and was seeking advice about the order he had been asked to draft and send to the Court. We agreed he would draft it for me to review and approve first.
After a lunch break with my family (one of the novelties of working from home during Lockdown – chicken & chips today, followed by Christmas cake) I drafted the non-molestation order from the case earlier this morning, I then emailed it to the Court.
Next, I had to finalise a statement in care proceedings, where I am representing the maternal grandmother who wishes to care for her grandchild. That took quite some time. The Local Authority (York City Council) have ruled her out as a carer for her Infant grandson. Once drafted, I sent it to my client to approve.
Like the morning, the afternoon is full of calls and emails including communication from a client whose application for a non-molestation order is due to be heard on notice. I send her details for the hearing along with the Court papers I have received; these also go to our process serving team to be served upon the respondent today. Our client will be kept updated and notified once the respondent has been served.
I then write to the local police, asking for help in tracing and serving a respondent in another non-molestation order case.
Afterwards, I speak to a new non-molestation order client, whose respondent has been very violent. I request various documents so I can apply for Legal Aid for her and seek a non-molestation order for her the next day.
My grandmother client approves her statement for the care case, which is then sent to her to sign and date electronically before being returned to me.
The last job of today was to send the signed statement to the Court and also a copy to the local authority and the Solicitors for the other parties to the case.
And that is me for the day! I turn off my computer, have tea and then settle in by our coal fire to relax with my family.