Janet Bettle (1985)
Specialising in financial remedy, private and public Children Act and VAT tribunals.
Janet is a University Laureate and Inner Temple Marshall Hall/Duke of Edinburgh Scholar. She is a former University Lecturer who made the move from academia in 1989 and still regularly delivers lectures to professionals on developing areas of law.
Janet has a very busy practice. Whilst Janet has an impressive academic background, she is approachable and known for her practical approach to difficult family situations. She is often approached to act in cases which span several areas of law given the breadth of her experience
She is a co-author of Bettle and Hamey’s Personal Injury Claims in the County Court and has written a number of articles for the academic and professional legal press. An article by Janet on vicarious liability was cited by Lord Clyde in the House of Lords in the leading case of Phelps v Hillingdon LBC.
Much of Janet’s work is in financial provision cases. She has a particular interest in small businesses and their accounts and aims to provide realistic and cost effective advice at the earliest possible opportunity.
Janet has experience in dealing with cases involving inherited wealth and farms; there is also a substantial element of her work that involves assets which stem from personal injury awards received by the parties – Janet was involved in the leading case of Mansfield v Mansfield and this area calls upon her joint expertise in family law and personal injury law.
Janet has a heavyweight children law practice spanning both care work and private law cases. Recent areas have included :
- use of Brussels II (revised) in the care jurisdiction
- shaken baby syndrome cases (Janet has co-written an article on this complex subject with Professor Jonathan Herring of Oxford University)
- parents with learning disabilities and the relevance of the Department of Health Good Practice Guidelines in relation to care proceedings
- acting on the instructions of the Official Solicitor where a parent lacks capacity
- acting for a foreign-born parent in care proceedings and considering the implications of a wish to leave the English jurisdiction
- relocation appeals
- child arrangement order disputes
- a major fact finding hearing involving serious violence and sexual assault findings against a parent and the implications of this for child arrangements (this started with a threatened judicial review against the legal aid board in which Janet acted with a specialist silk )
- persuading a Court to look again at the ability of grandparents to provide kinship care (a case which achieved national publicity)
Janet has been involved with an Oxford University research project between 2012 and 2014 into how Judges deal with housing repossession claims. The first phase of this major piece of work is now complete and was presented to officials from the M of J, Council of Mortgage Lenders and other interested bodies in London earlier this year. The research will be of considerable assistance in formulating policy on the future direction of housing legislation. Janet remains interested in possession work and is happy to advise and represent parties involved in this important area.
The rules in relation to the recovery of costs at VAT tribunals have changed to the effect that it is now very difficult for small businesses to recover their legal expenses even if they are successful in appealing a VAT assessment. Janet works with a local niche firm to provide a low cost representation service for individuals and businesses who find themselves in such a situation. Whilst on the face of it this is a very different area of law to the rest of her practice, both areas demand a cost-effective and highly focused approach to the issues in hand. She has recently assisted in a case relating to the VAT treatment of lead generation in the financial services industry.
Inter Disciplinary Work
Janet often works in areas that cross different boundaries of the law as she is always happy to expand her knowledge base and research new areas. This has led her into matters as diverse as defending a local authority against a harassment claim in its pursuit of council tax under the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 and challenging a trustee in bankruptcy in relation to its approach in a divorce case. She also is happy to work in dealing with Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act cases.
The challenges faced by those of advancing years are increasingly being recognised by our legal system. Janet has a particular interest in acting in cases where older people are seeking to enforce their rights . The boundaries are never closed, but recent cases have involved
- Obtaining a special guardianship order for two grandparents who were initially rejected by the local authority as carers for a child and who had to appeal an initial court decision against them. This case has been reported in the national TV and print media.
- Obtaining a new report on the suitability of grandparents to look after their grandchildren in a care case.
- Obtaining leave for grandparents to be heard in cases concerning their grandchildren.
Further areas of law where Janet can help and advise include issues under the Mental Capacity Act, applying to the Court of Protection, care arrangements, housing problems and the increasingly worrying problem of elder abuse.
‘With this diode, I thee wed’ Family Law Week , March 25th 2014 (with Herring, J). This is a look at some of the oddities and absurdities of current marriage law.
Shaken Baby Syndrome and Care Proceedings : (with Herring, J) : Family Law, December 2011.
A modern day morality tale : Ashby v Kilduff :This article, written by Janet with Professor Susan Bright of Oxford University on ToLATA and proprietary estoppel, was published by Family Law (a publishing imprint of Jordan Publishing Ltd) in the February 2011 issue, at  Fam Law 168
“Suing Hospitals Direct : Whose Tort was it Anyhow?” (1987) 137 New LJ 573, referred to in Clerk & Lindsell on Torts, 17th ed (1995), p 445, para 8-63, and by Lord Clyde in Phelps v Hillingdon LBC  2 AC 619, at 676
Book Co-author : Bettle and Hamey’s Personal Injury Claims in the County Court
Janet is a best-selling author of crime fiction, which has been published in several different countries as well as in the UK. Her latest book, Dead Man’s Shoes, topped the relevant Kindle charts in January and March 2013.
Janet is a keen runner, skier and mountain walker. She travels extensively (a recent journey to Antarctica was covered by the East Anglian Daily Times) and plays in a local orchestra.