About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Domestic Violence Practice Direction: Out of step with case law?

An FLW reader has suggested that the recently published Practice Direction on domestic violence in contact and residence is out of step with the case law on the issue. Robert Stevens of HMCS wrote
"I believe para 15 of the PD does not reflect case-law. All of the bench should attend the second hearing. I rely upon. M v A ( Contact: Domestic Violence) [2002] 2 FLR 921 (Fam Div). The summary prepared by Peter Dawson and me states ‘ it was entirely appropriate for a family proceedings court to hold a separate hearing to make findings of fact in relation to disputed allegations of domestic violence in the course of an application for contact. However, the second hearing must take place before the same bench. A hearing before a differently constituted bench was wrong in law and contrary to sound sense. They were part-heard."

Para 15 of the Practice Direction states:
"15. Where the court fixes a fact-finding hearing, it must at the same time fix a further hearing for determination of the application. The hearings should be listed in such a way that they are conducted by the same judge or, in the magistrates' court, by at least one of the same justices, unless to do so would be impracticable or cause undue delay."
Any comments welcome to info@familylawweek.co.uk

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