‘STANDARD’ ORDERS; and what next…

Watch this space – a better family law – for app ordrs, and consent orders; as the family court adventure unfolds….

The office of the Sir James Munby P was asked on 3 February 2014:

‘Rumours are flying this way and another as to the position of the ‘mandatory’ – or are they ‘draft’ – orders. One commercial organisation with which Mostyn J has, or has had links, is leading solicitors to believe they are already in force; and some district judges think the same. Other people – including a member of Family Procedure Rules Committee, as I understand him – think the whole project is on hold, even abandoned…. Can you tell me, please, exactly what is happening…?’

On 5 February 2014, the President’s office replied:

‘Dear Mr Burrows,

‘perhaps I can assist?

‘I can assure you that the standard orders project has not been abandoned but is being taken forward more slowly than originally envisaged.  It is not expected to be completed by the time the single Family Court opens its doors in April but will be completed later in the year. This is simply a reflection of the considerable amount of change the system is experiencing at present with the establishment of the single Family Court, the introduction of the revised PLO and the preparations for the 26 week time limit in public law cases.  The President took the view that the orders project was not ‘mission-critical’ for the public law reforms or the establishment of the single Family Court which are his immediate priorities.  There is a need to allow practitioners sufficient time to digest the changes and the changes to the orders do not have to be done by April.

‘You will be aware that the consultation period for the first tranche of orders has recently ended.  The responses will be analysed and will inform any drafting revisions required.

‘The President has indicated that he intends to send the second tranche of standard orders out for consultation by the end of this month.

‘The President is aware of some of the outlandish rumours that have been flying about and has indicated that he may include some remarks on the orders project in the next ‘View From the President’s Chambers’ pieces in Family Law which is due to got to press shortly.  This should help to still the rumour mill.

‘In terms of the authority for the revised orders, my understanding is that there are two courses the President might take. One would be to introduce the orders by way of a Rule, or a Practice Direction, which would be made by the FPRC in the usual way.  The other approach would be to introduce the standard orders as Practice Guidance which the President issues from time to time and does not require the formal FPRC process.  A decision has yet to be made on this so I can’t provide you with any further detail at this stage.

‘regards’

Alex Clark | Private Secretary to the President of the Family Division & Secretary to the Family Justice Council | Judicial Office | Room WG 23 | Royal Courts of Justice | Strand | London WC2A 2LL | 0207 947 7041

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