Thursday, April 03, 2014

Thursday Review: Statutory instrument overload

The race to have the single family court up and running by the 22nd of April continues apace. In the last couple of weeks I have counted no fewer than fourteen statutory instruments made in connection with the new court.

Like many family lawyers, I used to dream about a Family Court. In my dream it would be a building with just the words '[Someplace] Family Court' on the outside, not sharing the facility with other civil or, worse still, criminal courts, and the one court dealing with all family matters in the area. Inside, it would be a pleasant place, much more inviting and friendly than any other type of court. All the staff and judges would be family law experts, dealing with nothing else. And the judges would all be professionals - no lay justices here. There would be an in-court mediation service, and perhaps Cafcass would also have its local office within the building.

Alas, much of that will remain in the land of fantasy after the 22nd of April. Still, I suppose we should be thankful for what we are going to get.

One of the new statutory instruments is The Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2014, which increases fees payable in family proceedings from the 22nd of April, as set out in the Explanatory Memorandum. A quick glance at Annex A to the Memorandum will show the changes. In fact, so far as private law is concerned we haven't done too badly, with most fees remaining the same, especially the 'main' ones (application for divorce, s.8 applications and financial remedies application). There is even one fee that has been scrapped: the £75 fee on applications for domestic violence injunctions. That was not mentioned in the Order, but the Ministry of Justice didn't miss the opportunity to tell us how it "will help thousands of women seeking non-molestation and occupation orders". Clearly, men never apply for such orders.

If I don't post again tomorrow, have a good weekend. In fact, even if I do post again tomorrow, have a good weekend.

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