News just in courtesy of the FLBA. In an unexpected announcement Jonathan Djanogly MP yesterday reversed the abolition of court fees for local authorities in care and supervision proceedings. When these fees were introduced the FLBA strongly opposed them – as indeed did the Law Society, and the NSPCC.
Four councils launched a judicial review in relation to these fees in 2009. Although that application was rejected by the High Court, Jack Straw MP then took the welcome step of abolishing the fees in March this year. In a written statement to the Commons yesterday morning, Mr Djanogly said: “I have carefully considered the decision of the former secretary of state and believe that there is no justification that these fees should be abolished and as such they will remain. … Protecting vulnerable children is paramount and I do not believe that continuing to charge these court fees will place vulnerable children at risk. … Local authorities have a statutory duty to investigate instances when they suspect a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm and it would be unlawful for local authorities to consider financial considerations when deciding whether to do so.”
He added “… in the light of the work currently being undertaken by the family justice review panel it would be premature to remove the fees for care and supervision proceedings”, saying that “The review is due to publish its final report in Autumn 2011 and I will review the fees for care and supervision proceedings following these findings and any proposals that seek to change the way in which these cases are dealt with by the courts.”