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President issues guidance on forms of order in children cases

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has published guidance on Forms of Orders in Children Cases, for judicial and practitioner's information.

In the guidance, the President states:

"[T]he Family Court is currently experiencing a very high number of children cases. In these circumstances, I have reluctantly come to the view that the detriment, in terms of time taken to prepare lengthy narrative orders after every hearing, outweighs the benefit that such orders bring. In short, in the current climate, the court simply does not have time in every case to meet the need for the preparation of full orders after every hearing. Where, as expected, the standard forms of order are used care should be taken to ensure that only the essential information is included.

9. Despite the pressure on the system, I remain persuaded that the first order made in any child case (public or private law) should comply with the previous Practice Guidance [of 6 June 2018] or PD12B, para 14.13, so that the key information in each case is recorded there. For subsequent orders (other than final orders) the court, while following the previous Practice Guidance, should tailor the order to the particular circumstances of the case, without the need to include lengthy narrative material which does not relate to the requirements of the particular order. The minimum required content in an order following a second or subsequent interim hearing will be:

i. A recital of who attended and their representation;

ii. A recital of the issues determined at the hearing;

iii. A record of any agreement or concession made during the hearing;

iv. A recital of the issues that remain outstanding; and

v. The text of any orders that were made.

It is expected that this approach will enable the court to limit the content of orders to what is strictly required for effective case management.

10. Following a final hearing, the court order should, as has always been the case, set out in full the orders that the court has made, together with any appropriate recitals.

11. It is my intention that the use of shorter forms of order as explained in this Guidance should be seen as a temporary measure to support the effective preparation of court orders. The ultimate goal remains, as stated in the June 2018 Guidance, for court orders eventually to be drawn with ease from an electronically supported system once such systems are widely available."

For the full guidance, click here.