Family proceedings: ‘the beginning of the future’ 

A ‘View from the President’s chambers’ [10] – ‘The process of reform: the beginning of the future’ – is out. Various features of where we’ve got to are explained by Sir James Munby P. For the present it must be recorded that Sir James and Ministry of Justice officials are not of one mind; at least, not on the papers, as we say in the trade.

Readers may recall controversy over precedent orders being prepared by a shadowy – well, ‘shadowy to me’ – group around Mostyn J. Just precedents? Or were they ‘mandatory orders’ as Resolution are telling their members. Are they the oxymoronic ‘mandatory draft’ orders. Or are they in reality, as the Ministry of Justice seems sensibly to be suggesting, ‘standard orders’?

The possibilities are more or less clear. When asked to state what his powers were to do all this, the President was – and remains to this day – silent. Thank goodness for people who understand how these things are done. And when might anything start? Ministry of Justice says around September or October 2014, with a rule change or a practice direction: per email dated 5 February 2014. 

A week later, says Sir James:

The family orders project continues under the leadership of Mostyn J. I will shortly be issuing a second batch of draft orders for discussion and comment. May I take this opportunity of making clear that this important work has not been put on hold indefinitely. There has merely been a necessary slowing of the tempo, whilst even more pressing matters take priority. Implementation may be staged and in any event will not take place until after April 2014.

Not until after April 2014 (and no mention of a SI); or autumn with a SI: where does anyone’s money lie? If bets were to be taken my money would be on MoJ. Rule of law (Ministry of Justice) against arbitrary administrative diktat (ie Munby P and Mostyn J) would prevail. That is what modern democratic administration is – or should be – about.

The present news as to amendment of Family Procedure Rules 2010 is summarised in an earlier blog.


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