Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book Review: Family Law Protocol, 4th Edition

Family Law Protocol, 4th Edition

£39.95 – Published by Law Society Publishing: 30 October 2015

If the job of a book reviewer is to indicate to the reader of the review whether they should acquire the book, then this must surely be the easiest reviewing job I have ever done. The current (now 4th) edition of the Family Law Protocol is, quite simply, an essential occupant of the bookshelf of every family law practitioner. If you have not done so already, acquire a copy now!

I could end this review there, but I suppose I should say a little more, primarily for the benefit of those (surely few) who are not aware of the Protocol.

First published in 2002, the Family Law Protocol provides a set of best practice guidelines for all family law practitioners. Developed by the Law Society in association with Resolution and other leading organisations, interest groups and figures in the field, the Protocol provides guidance on everything from taking instructions, to dealing with specific areas of family law (public law is included, but practitioners in that field should also refer to the separate volume, Good Practice in Child Care Cases), with an emphasis on attempting to achieve resolution of family disputes by means of ADR, and an insistence that court proceedings should be a last resort. The Protocol is endorsed by the President of the Family Division, Cafcass and the Family Law Bar Association, amongst others.

For those who possess a copy of the 3rd edition (which is now five years old), this edition has been amended in a number of ways, including:
  • Updating of the main Protocol which, for the benefit of those who have not seen a previous edition, "details those overarching matters family lawyers must consider in order to promote their clients' best interests".
  • Taking account of significant developments including the creation of the Family Court, new legislation and changes to public funding in family law proceedings.
  • Adding new chapters on domestic abuse and honour based violence, forced marriages and FGM and alternative pathways to parenthood.

In short, whether you have an earlier edition or not, you have a reason to acquire this volume.

Before I end this review I should mention one of those involved in the drafting of the Protocol, Robin ap Cynan. Sadly, Robin passed away suddenly last month. For a little information about his contribution to the profession in general and family law in particular, and for tributes to him, see this article in The Law Society Gazette.

The Family Law Protocol is available from the Law Society bookshop, in either hardcopy (paperback) or (from the 20th of December) EPUB form.

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