Thursday, July 14, 2011

Justice Committee reports on the operation of the Family Courts

It's all happening this week. First we had the Government's response to the consultation on child maintenance, then the response to the Munro report, and today we have the Justice Committee's report on the operation of the Family Courts (quite why we should have this while the Family Justice Review is on-going is another matter).

I won't give details of the report's conclusions and recommendations, as that's already been done elsewhere (see below), but highlights include:
  • An (obvious) warning that courts are going to have to make adjustments to cope with more litigants in person as a result of cuts to legal aid;

  • A call to scrap the provisions in the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010 to allow media access to Family Courts, and a recommendation that Ministers reformulate proposals to increase transparency in Family Courts, putting the views of children centre stage;

  • A rejection of the Family Justice Panel's Interim Report recommendation that a statement be introduced into legislation to "reinforce" the importance of a child having a meaningful relationship with both parents;

  • A call for judges to reduce the costs and delays in case management associated with expert reports; and

  • A call for a series of reforms designed to transform Cafcass "into a less process-driven, more child focused and integral part of family justice".
The report can be found here, a summary here and a news item on it in the Gazette today here. Family Law has also done a piece on the report, here.

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