Anyone practising in the family courts will know the vital importance of the assessment process. Where there are communication barriers the correct assessment is all the more important.
Collette Price, led by Sam Momtaz QC (of 1GC) and instructed by FAB Solicitors, has recently represented a family member in a case where the problems with communication were legion. The family are of Roma Slovakian origin. English was not the first language for parents, children or wider family. There are a lack of Roma interpreters, it appears, so the first communication hurdle was spoken language. The parents are also deaf, but not BSL users. The court highlighted – following the guidance in re C (A Child)  EWCA Civ 128 – the importance of considering the impact of the cultural and educational significance of their deafness. Lastly both parents had learning difficulties and were provided with specialist deaf intermediaries during the court process. Unfortunately, it seems there are now only 3 registered deaf intermediaries in the country (there were four when the proceedings started). Such a valuable resource, but clearly dwindling.
Failure to identify and address all of these issues prior to issue meant that proceedings were issued in December 2019 and judgment handed down in March 2022, a significant delay for the children involved.