Thursday, June 02, 2011

Book Review: Family Procedure Rules 2010 - A Guide to the New Law

Family Procedure Rules 2010

A Guide to the New Law

By Stephen Parker

£49.95 - Published by Law Society Publishing: May 2011

The new Family Procedure Rules have, of course, provided substantial opportunities for legal publishers to supply the profession with guidance, and Family Procedure Rules 2010 is, as the sub-title states, Law Society Publishing's effort. How does it fare?

The Guide (as I shall call it) is essentially in two parts: the main text, comprising 104 pages, and two appendices, containing the full text of the rules and the accompanying practice directions. There are no tables or index, the latter being a particularly disappointing omission.

The main text is thus the only original part of the Guide. It comprises four chapters:

1. A six-page introductory chapter, setting out the background to the rules, their objectives and a brief overview.

2. A useful thirteen-page summary of the key changes introduced by the new rules.

3. A detailed explanation of the rules: the 'meat' of the book. The author not only describes each of the rules and (if applicable) its accompanying practice direction(s), but also includes some of his own thoughts as to how the new rules will work in practice. In addition, he occasionally considers how similar rules within the Civil Procedure Rules have worked, and refers to some of that case law, much of which may well not be known to family law specialists. The layout of this chapter can be a little frustrating, partly because the rules do not accompany the text, and partly because some of the longer sections have no sub-headings, for example the sections on Part 9 (applications for financial remedies) and Part 12 (proceedings relating to children).

4. A brief concluding chapter, setting out the author's observations regarding the impact of the new rules.

And that is it. Cognisant of the fact that the rules and practice directions are freely available online (if not possessed already), potential purchasers may consider that they are not getting very much for their money. However, if the book is used as a text to read (save, of course, for the appendices) rather than as a reference then I think it provides a valuable guide to the new rules, of the sort that all family practitioners should read, if they have not done so already.

If, on the other hand, the book is intended to be used as a reference then, aside from the reservations I have already mentioned, I would make the same point as I made when reviewing Financial Remedies under the Family Procedure Rules: would you want it if you already possessed The Family Court Practice?

In summary: a worthwhile, but perhaps a little expensive, purchase for those seeking a readable guide to the new rules.

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