In July Mr Justice Ryder published his final report on the modernisation of family justice, which makes a series of judicial proposals to reform the family justice system.
Mr Justice Ryder was appointed as the judge in charge of the modernisation of family justice following the recommendations of the Family Justice Review in November 2011. His proposals are judicial solutions to the problems identified in the Family Justice Review and will be introduced in parallel to the proposed changes in legislation made by the Government.
The report recommends introducing a single Family Court which will consist of a network of Local Family Court Centres where all levels of judge and magistrate will sit as ‘Judges of the Family Court’. The Family Court will not absorb the High Court, although High Court Judges will regularly sit in the Family Court to provide leadership in interpreting the law.
It is intended that the single Family Court will be the vehicle for a ‘significant change of culture’ in the family courts; one which is characterised by strong judicial leadership and management and robust case management.
The Crime and Courts Bill, which provides for a new single Family Court, is currently before Parliament and it is anticipated that the first phase of the modernisation programme will be complete by the end of 2013.
It remains to be seen whether the proposed timetable for implementation will be complied with, but our family team are following the developments and welcome any change that will make the system more efficient and reduce delays in family proceedings.
A link to the Judiciary of England and Wales website where the report can be read in full is here.