Plain language guidance to family proceedings will aid parties and representatives
Mr Justice Ryder has published a second update on the work of the Family Justice Modernisation Programme. In the first update he highlighted ten key workstreams as follows:
- Family justice governance
- Family management information (including performance and effectiveness)
- Judicial and inter-disciplinary training and communication
- Unified Family Court
- Judicial leadership and management
- Judicial deployment (including patterns and listing guidance)
- Gatekeeping and allocation (including tracking and continuity)
- Case management (including case progression, timetables and deadlines)
- Use of experts and assessors
- External services including court social work, mediation and ADR, contact services, safeguarding, testing, experts, representation and support in court.
It is his preliminary view that some of these proposals need not wait for legislative change or for any additional confirmation that they are necessary if, he says, “together, we are agreed as to how to make the best use of resources to secure improved outcomes for those who use the family justice system and in particular children whose cases are brought before the family courts.”
“I intend to continue with these discussions and to have further meetings with many of you following upon the publication of the Government’s response to the Family Justice Review.I now have a detailed timetable that is intended to lead to the publication of agreed proposals and a plan for their implementation by the end of July.
“It has become clear in our discussions that what the overwhelming majority of you would wish for is practical guidance on the issues arising under each of the key workstreams.
“I intend to publish this guidance in the form of plain language ‘pathways’ which identify solutions to particular problems which can then be put into practice. The guidance ought to form a coherent whole so that parties to family proceedings, their representatives, advisors and independent experts can all understand what is expected of them and what they should expect of the family justice system and the family courts that operate within it. The guidance will be published electronically so that is can be reviewed and updated whenever necessary and so that it can also provide links to more extensive professional guidance and direction.”