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.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Public Law Outline: Initial Local Plan for London

Judge Altman, the Designated Judge for London, has issued an Initial Local Plan for London dated 10th April 2008in respect of the implementation of the Public Law Outline (which is already in force). It applies to the London Care Centre which means the PRFD & Barnet, Kingston & Croydon County Courts & is relevant also to cases transferred into those courts from the FPCs.

The guidance deals with:

  • the documentation which the LA must file on application, what it is expected to file if practicable, that reasons must be given for non-filing of any required document, recognising that it is not always possible to have everything ready on issue and that proceedings should not be delayed for the preparation or collection of any document provided an explanation is given, and that the pre-proceedings aspect of the PLO may not be achievable in cases where there is urgency in getting before the court;
  • the need to deal with disclosure from the police at an early stage;
  • a new procedure for the renewal of interim care orders - in particular on application for renewal there is a form which the LA should complete notifyin the court whether case management directiosn have been completed or are at risk of non-completion;
  • the need for the child's solicitor to monitor the progress of the case bringing any appropriate matter to the attention of the court and the other parties;
  • the procedure on transfer from the FPC, including a standard direction that the instruction of experts should be considered and agreed if possible so that decisions can be made at the CMC where all parties should attend with full information about proposed experts & availability etc as well as information relevant to the listing of the IRH and final hearing, and notifying that there will be no allocation hearing on transfer - the first hearing will be the CMC which is expected to be listed within 14 - 28 days after transfer is ordered (FPC clerk to get hearing listed before transfer, the DFJ to assign the case to a Judge for the CMC);
  • Advocates' meetings must take place at least 5 days before the CMC;
  • PLO3 (draft template order) must be completed (on court service website in the forms & guidance - Children Act 1989 section);
  • There will generally be no directions hearings between the CMC & the IRH;
  • Potential alternative carers should be identified by the CMC so they can be assessed;
  • Transfer to the High Court must involve consultation with Hedley J or the DFJ (again if transferred the first hearing is likely to be the CMC);
  • guidance on single issue transfer;
  • the need for expeditious planning of fact finding hearings to avoid delay;
  • Target times for the listing of hearings - 12 weeks for a fact finding, 25 weeks for the IRH & 40 weeks for the final hearing;
  • Barnet, Kingston & Croydon will not generally list the final hearing before the IRH. The PRFD will continue to list at the CMC but plans to move to listing at the IRH in time.
  • Informal recordings of proceedings or judgments are not permitted in London;
  • Professionals' meetings as opposed to chaired experts' meetings are not sanctioned;
  • LAs should provide a genogram with the application.

At the moment this document does not appear to have been published online. If you would like a copy immediately please email me at jacqui.gilliatt@4bc.co.uk In due course it may be published online, possibly on the main website and this post will be updated and a new post published announcing its publication wherever that may be.

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