On a Rydering to Nothing

I don’t know what that post title means but I’m running out of Ryder related puns. And I’m functioning in a haze of lemsip and Haagen Dazs, and my brain is fried from straining to follow Alistair Macdonald QC dismantle the paramountcy principle whilst running a slight fever. Gosh, the ALC Conference has been fun but I’m a bit dun in now and a lot more hoarse than I was before delivering 2 workshops on litigants in person self-represented litigants. *Croak*

Despite the meandering opening, this post is just about Mr Justice Ryder’s speech this morning. I thought it would be easier to glue all my contemporaneous tweets together using the wonder of Storify, than to type them all out again. You can see those below.

I’ve heard the Ryder roadshow before and there are nuanced shifts each time I hear it. Today there were a couple of significant remarks which I hope I have accurately recorded / summarised as best one can in 140 character bites. I think its worth highlighting those, particularly in view of the minor controversy over the minor controversy arising from the (mis)quoting of Mr Justice Ryder at the NAGALRO Conference, which I blogged about here.

So. The highlights (and I do paraphrase here):

  • The judiciary’s proposal vis a vis timescales for care proceedings is NOT the same as the Government’s 26 week proposal. The judicial proposal is for the timetable for the child to be fixed by reference to evidence and whilst in some cases will be 26 weeks that will depend on the facts of each case.
  • currently many applications and case management decisions are contrary to caselaw from higher courts concerning purposeful delay, namely that a parent has no right to be made a better parent (although as David Jockleson neatly reminded us today the corollary of “justice delayed is justice denied” is that justice rushed is justice denied too, and the corollary of childrens’ right to be safe from harm, is a right for best chance to remain at home.)
  • the judiciary do point out the other side of the coin, making points such as the fact that only 50% of s31 applications result in care orders – the Judiciary do not agree with the government hook line and sinker but they do have to apply the acts passed by Parliament.
  • the judiciary will be faced with 26 weeks. but the overriding objective also provides for them to account for welfare and they will timetable accordingly (I think he meant the paramountcy principle here, not sure if I’ve noted him wrong or if it was his slip).
  • IF courts are rigidly applying an imaginary 26 week rule which has not yet been created then practitioners should challenge them and appeal if necessary.
  • There are people who hold the view that the future lies with a tribunal system, not just the government. Ryder does not agree with that but most of the FJR panel did (I can vouch for that having given evidence in front of them).
  • Ryder says he was “misquoted” at NAGALRO
  • Oh yes, and there will be something called “expectations” documents (a sort of KPI or service level agreement) for a range of bodies including CAFCASS, HMCTS etc – AND for LAWYERS. Watch this space – a draft will be going to the Faster Family Justice Group in the new year for consultation. I think input into such a document is crucial – it will be important to boundary the extent to which the state can exploit lawyers in order to prop up a system it isn’t prepared to properly fund, by the creeping expectation that we will perform a range of ancillary tasks and bear costs that in fact are part of the core business of HMCTS.


2 thoughts on “On a Rydering to Nothing

  1. Did he really honestly say that threshold documents should be only five lines?

    If so, I am dazzled that we are about to throw out the only actual good thing that came out of the PLO.

    I look forward immensely to parents not knowing what the case against them is and thus having no chance to challenge it or put things right, and to picking up files in 5 years time with a new baby and having not a scooby what was actually proven from the previous proceedings. Not to mention a return to those halcyon days of the FPC finding that “the threshold criteria is met because the child has suffered significant harm”

    Am hoping that this is just a tweeting in haste error, please let me know.

    • Yes he did – am surprised you are so surprised, I’ve heard that one before. Short thresholds are all the rage at the mo – the miniskirt of the family justice system.

      Given the number of cases I’ve dealt with recently where I’ve been acting for parents with LDiffs and struggling to take instructions on a still to be finalised / non-existant threshold throughout the final hearing I’m not mad fussed. Practice in respect of thresholds is almost universally shoddy – either too long, legally dodgy or so vague they could cover anything. In all seriousness I do worry about the potential for ambush / confusion etc and the difficulty for LAs in relying upon wooly threshold documents from previous proceedings.

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