Family Justice Modernisation Programme Update No. Nine and Three Quarters

This press release just in from Mr Justice Schrodinger, Family Justice Modernisator:

Family Justice Modernisation Programme Update No 9 3/4 

I am pleased to announce that, in furtherance of the prime objective of efficiency and pace, all care cases issued after 1 January 2013 will be cascaded through the new algorithmic family justice hyper-rationalisation drive, which we have designed and constructed notwithstanding our budget of nil resources, reducing staff and technically obsolete IT estate. The system depends upon a simple scoring system, which has been developed with input from magistrates, with their unique insights and experience, and who are best placed to identify the key characteristics of families on the ground.

All public law cases entering into the system will be scored according to the following criteria before being allocated to one of three tracks, each with its own traffic light (to assist the understanding of the self represented litigant) : GREEN – proceed directly to adoption, AMBER – conduct perfunctory assessment and proceed to adoption in no longer than 26 weeks, and RED – cases where, as a result of failures in legal representation and filibustering, more than 27 weeks are required in order to achieve outcomes. Red light cases will be diverted to the newly constituted Muggle Tribunal, and parents will be able to access comprehensive legal guidance through an automated advice guide available at public library or post office internet consoles.

The system is designed to be simple to apply and understand, avoiding the need for complicated regulations, statutory guidance or the exercise of discretion. Any case scoring 20 or more will be allocated to the amber track. Any case scoring 30 or more to green. Cases scoring below 20 (if any) will be allocated to the red track.

Four or more children with names beginning with the same letter of the alphabet OR six or more children where all children of one gender have names beginning with the same letter of the alphabet 5
Case involves more children than lawyers 2
Presence of satellite tv dish or sky box in / on the family home in combination with rent arrears of more than £500 OR warning re noise from premises by Housing Association 5
Multiple tattoos (to satisfy this criterion “multiple” means more than 5 individual tattoos involving more than one part of the body one of which must include the face neck or décolletage OR all the knuckles of one hand) 5
More than 3 fathers as party to proceedings OR more than 2 unknown fathers OR one father with paternity of two non-consecutive children 2
Reasonable cause to believe at least one of the paternal / maternal grandparents to be a “nasty piece of work” or that they have been verbally / physically / sexually abusive to at least one of the parents or parents siblings 5
Case involves viability assessment of a great grandparent or step great grandparent of child where that adult is below pensionable age as at the date of assessment 5
Parents own staffie-cross dog 5
Parents own dog or cat (any breed) which is not reliably house trained 5
Parents own more than 5 animals (to qualify for this criteria this must include one reptile, one mammal and one bird or chinchilla) 2
Shopping trolley in garden (front or back) 2
Parent’s belly button visible through / between layers of clothing at two consecutive court hearings 2
Parents have in combination more than 20 piercings (any body part) 5
Parent has asked for help 5
Parent has not asked for help 5
Parent has agreed to s20 accommodation 5
Parent has requested s20 accommodation 5
More than two children bearing one of the following names (any spelling): Callum, Cayden, Jayden, Chardonnay, Jaya, Jordan (boy or girl), Joshua, Chloe, Tiana, Shayanne, Rochelle OR any hyphenated first name OR any first name including an apostrophe OR comprising an acronym OR any name closely resembling designer clothing brand name available for purchase at TK Maxx 5
Either parent attends court wearing trackie bottoms bearing sexually suggestive moniker across buttocks 5
Parent has at any time declined to sign a document at the request of the local authority without first speaking to their lawyer 5
Any two parties to the proceedings have referred to facebook arguments, threats or alleged harassment in the course of proceedings 5
Has no lawyer or has had more than 2 sets of lawyers during proceedings 5
Brings MP to court 5
Any member of the family has appeared on the Jeremy Kyle show as participant OR two members of the immediate / extended family have been in the audience 5
Number of years between birth of eldest and youngest child is greater than the age of the parent at date of birth of first child 5
Any adult in the case in receipt of any social security benefit 5
Case involves a subject child whose paternity is unknown or where dna tests have been required in order to establish paternity 5

The system will be trialled during a robust pilot spanning a period of 26 weeks, following which the scoring system will replace section 31 Children Act 1989, which can be cumbersome and can add unnecessary complexity to cases with obvious outcomes. Through this streamlining of the judicial process it is anticipated that by 2014 when the single family court is introduced average case times will have been reduced to below 26 weeks in 90% of cases. It must be stressed that such figures are aspirational and will not be achievable until a period of c26 weeks has elapsed (which may be extended only upon provision of evidence to the Minister for Justice up to a maximum of a further 8 weeks).

Presidential guidance for judges and magistrates in relation to case management of private and public law proceedings will then be published in the form of pathways*.

In order to ensure coherence of approach, expectations documents, setting out what the court expects of agencies and other participants in the proceedings are being drafted by those responsible for their content, to ensure they meet any rules or regulations, service level agreements and codes of practice, which govern their own processes as well as meeting the requirements of the family court. Relationships developed during the information-gathering phase of the modernisation programme continue to be vital and discussions are being held with colleagues across the family justice system** to develop these documents. It is important that the growing expectation of increasing amounts of work for decreasing amounts of pay carried out by the legal profession is recognised and formalised, and built upon in order to enable committed legal professionals to extend the pro bono ethos to all areas of practice.

Advocates will be pleased to hear that the Family Advocacy Scheme uplift rates will be amended to reflect the expectations placed upon them. Advocates will be able to claim an uplift back to 2005 rates of pay for all cases successfully cascaded down the green or amber pathway.

This is a time of profound change in the family justice system. It is vital to the success of the modernisation programme that all key stakeholders embrace that change and adapt to it in order to secure the overriding objectives of the family justice system***.

* When we can find someone fool enough to step into the role of President

**Apart from lawyers.

***as understood by Ministers from time to time

POSTSCRIPT : #satire. Please treat as such…Don’t blame me, blame the two very anonymous QCs who suggested it…

20 thoughts on “Family Justice Modernisation Programme Update No. Nine and Three Quarters

  1. In private law but I did the checklist, just for funsies. I hit 25. Does that mean it’s time for the Local Authority to Intervene?

    That brightened by day a little!

  2. Sound considerably less random than the current system – at least everybody will know the rules!

    Have you put this proposal forward?


    The urine well and truly extracted!

  4. Why do I find this more understanding than current legislation, personally, this looks like it is extracted from some Social Workers Hand Book

  5. Genius.
    but- I only score 5 . Hoping Oxford CC will intoduce trackie bottom dress code for lawyers via practice direction very soon so as to up score before Christmas.

    I also intend to use mincepie-o-matic machine to forcefeed self into belly button busting obesity. Or wear the clothes I used to fit into …

    I am also going to introduce the “Advice Device” which can be used to fix financial cases. basically it is a wheel with a spinner. you can end up on “50/50” ;or “no disclosure or advice sign here”; or “pensions don’t count”. The possibilities are endless.

  6. inflagrantedilecto

    Shame on you Lucy….for plagiarising Anthony Douglas’ Cafcass Operating Manual, however they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…..or is that flatulence…..

  7. Alternatively, amend the FAS again and introduce these as the new criteria for SIPS payments, with each one resulting in a percentage uplift equal to the number of points listed.

  8. […] Ensure that you read and digest the guidance, and click ‘follow’ on the Pink Tape blog. […]

  9. I think we could just bypass any need for modernization by instituting a program whereby adolescent men from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds are just hospitalized and drugged from an eligible age, have their semen extracted and banked according to the latest eugenics research, and then are promptly deported to southeast Asia to join its workforces, on the basis that they have no economic contribution to the UK. The CSA could then draft an agreement with those governments that 65% of their wages are to be remitted to the CSA. We don’t need to spend zillions modernizing when there are much cheaper and more profitable solutions.

  10. However – don’t put ideas in their heads!

  11. You are a wicked, wicked woman, but a very splendid piece of work.

  12. I’m in trouble if she reads this but the current Mrs. NL has a tattoo (dating from a drunken hen do in her youth)just above the pubic hair line which says “Aren’t you the lucky boy”

    Do we get a bonus point for that?

    • Northern Lights,
      Oh I think so. Give yourself 5. Are you in the Green band yet?
      In the interests of transparency I should say we score 17, which is a pleasant surprise…There are a number of boxes I almost ticked, but I ain’t telling which.
      I think I should award myself a bonus point for being married to a West Virginian.
      Perilously close to the 20 point threshold…

  13. Northern Lights


    I was full speed ahead in the green lane before I got 2/3 of the way down the page. Your bonus points have sent me off the richter scale. What comes after the green lane or is that too awful to contemplate?
    Hubby isn’t one of those Virginians who handles poisonous snakes in the name of the Lord, is he?

    • Northern Lights
      WEST Virginian…It’s a whole different state man! That’s like calling a Canadian an American or a Kiwi an Ozzie!
      And no, although there are some snake handlers in WV. I’m assured not in them thar parts from whar my husband cometh.
      I didn’t put religious based snake handling on the list since it isn’t really that common round here, although perhaps I should add 5 points for each household which has a vivarium but no functioning hoover?

  14. Hi Lucy,

    I was all aboard the Noro train for a bit, which has not been good, and then straight from that into back-to-back final hearings. Fun galore! Can’t wait for Christmas.

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