Reforming the family justice system: latest developments

Reforming the family justice system: latest developments

In his sixth View from the President’s Chambers, Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division has set out an update on the progress of the plethora of reforms planned for the family justice system. The volume of information on change being directed at family practitioners is little short of overwhelming at the moment, but there are some interesting plans set out in the latest ‘View’ plus some clarifications and a little insight into working conditions at court…

Single family court

The President is working with HM Courts and Tribunals Service on issues relating to the single family court that will come into existence next year, including the:

  • provision of proper recording equipment in the (equivalent) of the family proceedingscourts
  • case management system
  • naming of the designated family centres and hearing centres
  • headings for family court orders
  • numbering system to be used in future for family cases (which will be largely as at present)
  • design of the new family court seal

There is also work being undertaken by the Family Procedure Rules Committee. They are considering the:

  • functions and powers of justices clerks
  • powers of a single magistrate
  • criteria for allocating cases within the family court
  • precise scope of the High Court’s reserved jurisdiction; and
  • routes for appeals within and from the family court.

One can only hope (in a family justice system cut to the bone) that the focus will be on efficiencies and a relatively smooth transition. If the release of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (and accompanying practice directions) is anything to go by, then hold on to your hats and prepare to be blasted with legislation, practice directions and regulations at the very last minute…

Revised Public Law Outline (PLO) pilot scheme

The President has said that by the first week of October 2013 all courts will have implemented the revised PLO. I attended one of the number of events at which the President discussed the pilot scheme, it was clear that there was great concern amongst practitioners and the President was firm that decisions had been

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About the author:

Geraldine is Head of LexisPSL Family. She was admitted as a solicitor in 1992 and was in practice for 15 years, most recently as a partner and head of the family team at Hart Brown, a large Surrey firm.

Geraldine writes for Butterworths Family Law Service and is a past editor of the Resolution Review. She has been published in the New Law Journal, the Law Society Gazette and the District Judges’ Bulletin as well as in the national press including the Times and the Telegraph.

When in practice she was a member of the Law Society Family and Children Panels, and an accredited Resolution Specialist with a focus on advanced financial provision and pensions. A past Resolution regional secretary and press officer, Geraldine also contributed chapters to the Resolution publications, International Aspects of Family Law (3rd Edition 2009) and The Modern Family (2012).