The Family Justice Modernisation Programme: Implementation Update Number Two

Well, this is exciting. The second Implementation Update has been published for the Family Justice Modernisation Programme. The update is the first since Sir James Munby was appointed President of the Family Division. He tells us in the introduction that Mr Justice Ryder will continue in his role as Head of the Modernisation of Family Justice until Easter 2013.

The update covers developments in respect of the following:

The Single Family Court ('SFC')
A blueprint for how the SFC will work in practice has been approved by the HMCTS Board. The document governs the operational aspects of the court, concentrating on the processes governing how work will progress through the court. It is predicated on the understanding that work will come into the court through one entry point per court centre and then be allocated to the appropriate level of judiciary at the most suitable venue within the management of the court centre. At this stage, the blueprint does NOT deal with the policy/legal issues governing how the work is to be allocated.

The Children and Families Bill
It is the government’s intention that the Bill and consequential changes will progress sufficiently quickly to allow the key practical changes it introduces to the way courts deal with family cases to be implemented at the same time as the introduction of the Single Family Court by the Crime and Courts Bill in April 2014.

Judicial Training
Training for the judiciary began in December 2012 with leadership and management training for all Family Division Liaison Judges and Designated Family Judges. The next training in the modernisation programme will be at the President’s conference in April 2013, and training events will follow in April and June for around 600 members of the family judiciary who hear care cases including key legal advisers who will cascade it to legal adviser colleagues and magistrates by the end of 2013.

Experts in the family courts
This section mentions the new Part 25 and also the case Re TG (A Child) [2013] EWCA Civ 5, which is described as 'highly recommended reading'.

The Family Courts Guide
The Family Courts Guide will be a framework of good practice which will set out presidential guidance for the judiciary (pathways) on how to deal with public and private law cases. It will be an on-line publication. It is anticipated that the expectations documents (which set out what the court expects of agencies and other participants in the proceedings) will be published within the virtual family court guide in April 2013.

The new Practice Direction 15B, which provides guidance in relation to adults who may become protected parties and children who may become protected parties in family proceedings.

The update can be found here (PDF).