Questions of Family Procedure Rules Committee on vulnerable parties and children

In the question arose of how intermediaries are to be funded in the intended new family proceedings world, that is once the amendment rules for children and vulnerable individuals come into force. At about that time I raised questions with Family Procedure Rules Committee about this and related matters.

Only a very short time remains – till 25 September – for consultation on the rules; yet important questions remain at large. Clive Buckley is a civil servant and secretary of FPRC. There follows a reminder email to him sent today, and concerning a few questions already raised.

Dear Clive

It is 12 working days since you received my email of 23 August 2015; and to which you have replied by promising me a full reply (time for reply not specified). My email was as follows:

Family Procedure Rules Committee – 15 June 2015 item 4 – ‘vulnerable’ parties etc

Please provide replies to the following:

  I am preparing a response to the consultation on the ‘vulnerable’ individuals draft regs. Am I allowed to see all the papers considered by FPRC on item 4 of the 15 June 2015 meeting (eg the draft rule references in the minutes cannot be to Amendment X). If yes, may I have copies by or before 1 September 2015 next?

  In fixing ‘a consultation period of two full months’ agreed by FPRC, was the person whoever actually fixed 25 September aware that even on a temporal basis this was not ‘two full months’ (ie it was around seven weeks;); and that the government’s own ‘consultation principles’ ( suggest that for a ‘fair consultation’ August should be left out of account (and see (see further R (ota Mosley) v London Borough of Haringey [2014] UKSC 56). 18 days only is therefore allowed for this consultation  (or 3.5 weeks); not ‘two full months’).

  Was any funding exercise done by FPRC: including (1) for parties (ie private expenditure) and (2) for the tax-payer? If so, may I have a copy of this, please?

  What contact over the draft rules has Family Procedure Rules Committee had formally with LAA; and what are their views on the draft, if known, at this stage?

  My response to last years’ VWCWG ‘interim report’ was not ever acknowledged. Does anyone at MoJ even know if it was (a) received and (b) considered by anyone; and (3) considered in any way by FPRC?

I mean no offence at all, but – given the short time-scale and intervention of summer holidays, I do ask for a reply by noon on 1 September 2015, after which I shall consider whether I need to raise a FoI request.

It is twelve working days till a response to the Amendment X consultation is due. Can you tell me now, at least when the reply already promised by you will be provided; and can you say now, that I can expect a full three weeks (15 working days) from the date I receive a reply to my 23 August email?

I have not heard from Mike Horton, even with an acknowledgement of my copy email to him. I have sent this email also to him. He is one of only 3/4 of FPRC members who is not a civil servant (ie not paid by MoJ, as eg all judges are), I hope he and those 3/4 members, at least, might share my concern at how the intermediary part of the scheme is expected to be funded? I would hope the Family Division judges would also be concerned. I see the President chaired that meeting; and that Rider LJ presented the then draft rules to it. The President at least has been vociferous in court on questions of funding; though the record of Ryder LJ as Ryder J (in ota JG) has been a little more unreliable.

Perhaps you could let me know now whether my reply to the VWCWG was received (final bullet point above), and whether it was considered at any time by FPRC? I shall assume, if you prefer, that silentio non consentire (your silence does not consent). If that is right and other responses were not considered by the FPRC, the Amendment X rule-making process itself may be in danger.

There is not much time for reply; but answers to these questions – or some of them – may surely make any consultation responses more helpful.

Watch this space for any response from Ministry of Justice.


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