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With effect from 6 April 2016 there are various amendments to the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010), including the addition of two new Parts and a new Practice Direction. The changes are made by the Family Procedure Amendment Rules 2016, SI 2016/355 (the Amendment Rules) that, inter alia, introduce a new Pt 39 (attachment of earnings orders) and a new Pt 40 (charging orders, stop orders and stop notices). In addition there is a new PD 40A regarding charging orders. There are also some minor amendments regarding strike out applications (to Pt 4 and PD 4A), to PD 5A in relation to forms, and to PDs 12B (Child Arrangements Programme) and 2A (Functions of the Court).
What is the background to the changes?
The changes regarding enforcement (charging orders, attachment of earnings orders, stop orders and stop notices) follow on from amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (CPR 1998).
In addition, in Wyatt v Vince  UKSC 14 the Supreme Court identified a difficulty in seeking to strike out a statement of case when the form of application, in that case a Form A, contained no grounds for making the application. As a consequence, a new FPR 2010, 4.4(1A) has been inserted.
See: Practice Direction Amendment Document - Final for further details of the PD changes and here to access the Amendment Rules.
What are the key changes?
Amendments to the CPR 1998 also take effect on 6 April 2016. FPR 2010 imports the relevant provisions of the CPR 1998 as to enforcement (primarily in Pt 33, and now also in the new Pts 39 and 40). CPR 1998, Pt 73 (regarding charging orders) has been revised, and a new CPR 1998, Pt 89 deals with attachment of earnings (replacing the County Court Rules 1981, Ord 27 which had previously been set out in a schedule to CPR 1998). FPR 2010 has therefore been amended to reflect the changes in the CPR 1998. The new PD 40A can be accessed here: PD 40A, and the new Pts 39 and 40 are annexed to the Amendment Rules.
The new FPR 2010, 4.4(1A) provides an express provision to clarify that when the court is considering whether to exercise the power to strike out a statement of case, it must take into account any written evidence filed in relation to the application or answer. The explanatory memorandum to the Amendment Rules states that this is in addition to any evidence filed by the parties in support of or in opposition to the strike-out application. That would allow the court to strike out an application made by a form which itself could not disclose any grounds for bringing the application because of the nature of the application form, but where the evidence in support of the application or filed in relation to the application showed that there were no reasonable grounds for bringing the application.
FPR 2010, PD 4A has also been amended from 6 April 2016 by the insertion of paragraph 1.1A which provides that before the court exercises the power to strike out a statement of case it must take into account any written evidence filed in relation to the application or answer and highlights as an example that the court must take into account the financial statement (Form E) filed in relation to an application for a property adjustment order, pension sharing order or other financial orders.
What are the other miscellaneous amendments?
Minor changes are made to PD 2A (functions of the court) to include references to the new Pts 39 and 40 plus the new PD 40A.
The changes to PD 5A relate to Table 1, ie:
In relation to PD 12A (child arrangements programme), after paragraph 2.7(2), the following is inserted:
‘(3) A draft of a Parenting Plan prepared by CAFCASS Cymru for parents or families to complete:
http://gov.wales/docs/cafcass/publications/071015ParentingPlanEn.pdf (this links to the draft plan in English) or http://gov.wales/docs/cafcass/publications/071015ParentingPlanCy.pdf (this links to the draft plan in Welsh).’
When do the changes come into effect and are there any transitional provisions?
The changes come into effect on 6 April 2016 and apply to any proceedings commenced but not disposed of before the amendments come into force, as they would apply to proceedings commenced on or after that date. There are transitional provisions that provide that the court may give directions for the purpose of ensuring that the proceedings are dealt with fairly and, in particular, may:
Geraldine Morris is a solicitor and Head of LexisPSL Family.
0330 161 1234