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Law Society supports family justice modernisation plans

Children’s Services Directors also welcome Mr Justice Ryder’s report

The Law Society is supporting plans by senior judges to streamline family court processes.

Commenting on the report, Law Society President Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said:

"Effective case-management is vital to reducing delays in the family courts. Judicial continuity, specialisation and leadership are all essential to good case-management.

"Fast-tracking child care cases will help identify those cases which can be finished within the government's proposed 26 week time limit. Delays also need to be reduced in cases where separating and divorcing couples are seeking the court's help in making arrangements for their children.

"However, achieving these aims without additional resources will be a challenge. The rise in numbers of unrepresented participants following the cuts to legal aid will put enormous pressure on the courts and the family justice system as a whole. There is an immediate challenge to develop effective methods of assisting parents without legal representation in private law cases."

Debbie Jones, President of the Association of Directors of Children's Services, said:

"Directors of Children's Services applaud Mr Justice Ryder for his tenacity in working through the detail of the Family Justice Review and bringing forward these robust technical proposals for the judiciary to take forward. The changes to structure and guidance are important pieces of the puzzle in making the vision laid out in the Family Justice Review a reality.

"The proposals to develop a framework of good practice, and those relating to more robust case management in public law cases, will present significant challenges to the thinking and practice of Local Authorities in the way they develop and present their views to the courts, but the aim of the reforms makes such challenge worthwhile. Directors of Children's Services, Cafcass and the judiciary will need to ensure that the whole system responds to these proposals, at a local and national level, and that we all make the most of the new collaborative arrangements to change culture as well as procedure to ensure the focus is on timely and robust decision making."