A High Court Judge, Mr Justice Ryder, has been considering proposals for modernising the whole family justice system. His report was published on 31 July 2012 and can be found here. There are a number of quite radical recommendations to be introduced in two phases by 2014. Some of the main points are:
- A single Family Court to replace the existing range of magistrates’ courts, county courts and the High Court, which all deal with family cases.
- A 6 month time limit for concluding care proceedings over children, except in exceptional cases.
- Detailed arrangements for leadership and management of judiciary to ensure better case listing and more judicial continuity.
- Restrictions on the use of expert evidence.
- More standard case management principles designed to reduce delay
- A ‘private law pathway’ designed to help individuals with disputes over their children, especially since the withdrawal of legal aid from such cases will mean many people representing themselves.
We will give further details as and when they become available.