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Comments on the 26 week timetable by McFarlane LJ and Ryder J to the NAGALRO Conference

‘Timetable for the child may anticipate proceedings being completed in up to 26 weeks or more dependent on the facts of the case’

The NAGALRO conference on Monday 15 October was addressed by Mr Justice Ryder and Lord Justice McFarlane. Practitioners from different parts of the country raised concerns about courts rigidly implementing a 26 week timetable. Lord Justice McFarlane, recollecting the recommendations of the Family Justice Review panel of which he was a member, said that 26 weeks was aspirational and that the review anticipated that it may take a period of time to implement. 

Mr Justice Ryder confirmed that there had not yet been primary or secondary legislative change nor was there guidance which had the effect of a 'missive from on high'.  He would add: proposals for legislative change have already been published by Government and the period that we have before their projected implementation allows us (i.e. judges and practitioners alike) to prepare for those changes in the way that was anticipated by the Family Justice Review.  Courts already have an obligation to timetable each case and the timetable for the child may anticipate proceedings being completed in up to 26 weeks or more dependent on the facts of the case.

That is why the Case Management System records the timetable for the child which is set by the court.  Data will continue to be collected so that we obtain a better understanding of the duration of cases and the reasons for delay.