DISPUTE RESOLUTION WEEK - The timetable for public childcare proceedings28th Sep 2012
Draft legislation, in line with Mr Justice Ryder’s proposals, has been recently published. As part of Resolution’s Dispute Resolution week, each day this week we will be publishing our Solicitor’s thoughts on these proposals. Today Emma Hamilton Cole in the Family and Matrimonial Department, discusses the timetable for public childcare proceedings and the proposed cap of dealing with matters within twenty six weeks.
Currently the provisions provide that matters should be deal with “without delay”. Mr Justice Ryder talked of a current public law childcare system being adversarial, and other critics talk of unnecessary delays.
The proposed measures seek to implement an effective timetable which is based upon the child’s welfare. This timetable, in “non-exceptional” cases, will be complete within twenty six weeks. It is said that these provisions will be assisted by the proposed regulation of the use of experts, discussed by Coles Miller’s Maria Steele-Williams yesterday. However, other considerations such as preparation by the parties, disclosure, greater knowledge and support when assisting individuals acting without representation, are all said to assist in achieving a faster, more effective court service. It is said that a consistent but firm approach will be adopted to ensure the timetable is adhered to, which will include awards as to legal costs for non-compliance.
Much of the early criticism of these proposed provisions suggest that they are cost cutting measures and not in the interests of the children concerned. The criticism further details concerns as to detrimental effect on families, potential detriment to access to justice and some critics suggest a contravention as to the right to a fair trial. However, provided the proposals are implemented in a fair manner taking into consideration all the relevant circumstances of every case, we remain optimistic about the effects that the proposed measures will have to our clients.