New CAP orders announced

The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has announced that the CAP orders for private law children proceedings are to be changed. He has indicated that he asked a group of district judges to review the orders, as the existing orders (issued as part of the Child Arrangements Programme) were not doing what was required.The revised orders have been prepared on the basis that:

  • The primary and most important audience is the parties themselves, more often than not now unrepresented, and must be as concise as possible and easy to understand.  The orders have been seen by AdviceNow and their suggestions for simpler language have been incorporated.
  • A problem with the CAP orders was the extent to which they required recitals before the operative part of the order was reached.  While recitals can be very useful in explaining the context of an order and dealing with matters that should not be in the order itself, there was a strong feeling that the sheer length of orders with long recitals was too daunting, particularly for litigants in person.  The new orders are less prescriptive as to recitals, leaving it to judges in any particular case as to what they choose to include or leave out.  With the agreement of the Family Procedure Rules Committee, the President has approved amendments to PD 12B removing the requirement for certain information to be included on the face of orders.
  • Rule 81.9 of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 requires that, to be enforceable, penal and warning notices must be prominently displayed on the front of the order.  All the warning notices have therefore been collected together on the front page.
  • It is hoped that as many judges and justices’ legal advisers as possible will use the judicial template to produce the new orders and are encouraged to do so by the President.  Tick box forms have been drawn up for those who do not use the templates.
  • In an attempt to keep the forms to a manageable length they are separated into: A Allocation and gatekeeping; B Case management directions and section 8 and other orders; and C Enforcement.
  • HMCTS staff are being provided with the full text of the orders to which the tick box forms relate so they can draw the appropriate orders using the courts' IT programme, FamilyMan.  Whichever method is used to produce orders the President is keen that parties should leave court with a copy of the order made at the hearing whenever possible.

The President has indicated that it is important that practitioners use the same orders as judges so that they can draft consistently. There is no indication in the guidance as to when the new CAP forms should be adopted.

The President's announcement can be viewed here: CAP announcement by the President January 2016.

The new orders can be accessed here: CAP Master Orders.

Geraldine Morris is a solicitor and Head of LexisPSL Family.

Twitter: @GeraldineMorris

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