The new CAP for private law work – will it fit and do we want to wear it?

The new CAP for private law work – will it fit and do we want to wear it?

Following the flood of recent information and directives in relation to the public law outline (PLO), it was only a matter of time before the President turned his attention to the system of private law children work.  With the 8th View from the President’s Chambers he has done just that, and is inviting comments and views on the latest proposals for reform.  These have been produced following the work done by Mr Justice Cobb and his private law working group (PLWG) who have been looking at these issues since September and have now produced a report.

The new framework proposed by the PLWG will be known as the child arrangements programme (CAP) and aims, among other things, to ‘prioritise the most pressing demands on private law dispute resolution’ and to ‘preserve and build on the aspects of the existing procedure which are believed to work well.’

The draft CAP document aims to act as a ‘one-stop shop’ to explain the entire process in a clear and accessible way, recognising that this area of dispute is used by very large numbers of litigants in person.

Alternatives to the court system

So, what are the key features of CAP and does it achieve its aims?

  • it is anticipated that parents will be channelled to mediation information meetings (MIAMs) and alternative dispute resolution methods wherever possible
  • there is clear recognition within the PLWG report that the current information available for separating parents is fragmented and not easily accessible - the report notes that the government app sortingoutseparation.org.uk is not at all widely used and recommends ‘urgent’ action on giving parents better information and signposting them properly to encourage them to actually attend MIAMs (paras 17–25 PWLG report and para 3 CAP)
  • the CAP reflects that MIAMs are expected to become compulsory and there are three points at which it is clear that no further progress will be possible unless the applicant can demonstrate that the MIAM attendance requirement has been fulfilled or

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