Thursday Thoughts : Dealing with unreasonable clients


Jeremy Rosenblatt
Child and International Child Law Counsel
42 Bedford Row, Holborn, London
As a practitioner grows older the reality of human behaviour perhaps becomes clearer to us.
Instructions are followed and advice given ( in whichever order) but sometimes a client exists who is by nature destructive and we are left to deal with it, ricocheting into lack of realism, false expectation and their projected anger.

Once more advice is given and ultimately of course instructions are followed but there are too many occasions when Mothers will be unreasonably hostile to the Father regarding contact resulting even in child parental alienation syndrome with the Mother as source in her unreasonableness but the evidential reality being too late to change he scenario. Alternatively there will be cases where the Father in a crude and simplistic example of being formerly emotionally unchallenged, assertive if not bullying simply will not accept an advocate advising him as to reasonable behaviour and its importance.

The fact an advocate has to even advise a client on being reasonable and being seen to be reasonable is concerning but it happens frequently. Certain men bridle at this and it is sometimes almost comic as we step back to realise that actually that man has never been challenged before, whether in his work place or by his Mother and certainly not by his wife or partner against whom as Mother of his child he is contesting something. This innate or experienced awareness in the advocate does not require the skills of a psychotherapist or psychiatrist, although after longevity the practitioner may often accumulate such similar skills with their awareness (although not always of course ).

Telling such clients as parties to behave and that they will be viewed by the Judge with displeasure or be easily cross examined to reveal their own obduracy is necessary but trying to save a client from this common sense requirement of their reasonableness is not at all easy if the client genuinely won’t or cannot change or, worse, believes he is correct in his familial attitudes.

It may well be that the advocate is sacked with the solicitor remonstrating about too much realism with an important client but a new advocate may not fare better. Judges pick up on these omissions of reasonable behaviour and the unreasonable Mother, these days will properly be criticised and equally the obdurate unreasonable Father.

Mediation, conciliation, call these aspect of modern family law life what you will, exist but if concession is not made out of unreasonableness the client will have to accept an outcome that the advocate will have warned him/her about. Though one which in their unreasonableness they may inevitably remain in denial about.

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