Family Procedure Rules 2010 – Revised

I posted a couple of things on the blog as the rules were hot off the press, and when the PDs first began to emerge like crocuses on a lawn. I was candid at the time that these were just first impressions, a roughing out of what the new season would look like. Well time passes, and I’ve had some time to reflect on the rules in more detail (rather made a rod for my own back by being the first member of chambers to be remotely up to speed and landed myself with the job of FPR seminar deliverer). I had wanted to post some detailed thoughts on them but there are many many other things going on in my life all of which have a deadline of today or tomorrow or Monday and so I’m simply going to make available my seminar notes. They are also not a complete guide to the rules (they were the notes to my half of a 1 1/2 hr seminar after all), but they probably add something to the hasty posts of yore.

I would say “Enjoy!” – but you won’t. It’s not entertaining reading. If it makes you feel better about 5 out of 70 solicitors attending the seminars I gave had read the rules before attending. If you’re feeling clueless you will not be alone on 6 April, ostracised on the steps of the court.

Click for notes: family procedure rules 2010

EDIT: Some people are having problems opening the file, so try this PDF VERSION instead. (I suspect it is because you have an old version of word).


PS See this post for a little bit more information in light of the subsequent implementation of a related SI.


Sourdough – Recipe makes one family sized loaf

sourdough - peasant bread, courtesy of grongar

sourdough - peasant bread, courtesy of grongar on flickr

  1. Take one large statutory instrument (fresh) and break it into 36 PARTS. Separate each part into several Chapters and season liberally with fresh terminology and numbering (roman is the best).
  2. Add several lever arch files and 2 reams of paper and stir. Leave the mixture overnight covered with a damp cloth.
  3. Next add 61 practice directions, in small batches, folding them in as you go. Do not add all the practice directions at once, or the desired effect will not be achieved.
  4. Once all the lawyers have risen to the top, skim them off and discard hygienically. They cannot be re-used.
  5. Now add the hundreds and thousands (Litigants in Person sort is best – they are untreated) and knead forcefully until all the ingredients are combined.
  6. Put the dough in a lined loaf tin. Top with flaked cuts.
  7. Bake in a hot oven until cracks begin to show in the crust.
  8. Turn out and slice very thinly indeed.
  9. Store in an airtight tin out of reach of children.


PS This post was really prompted by the fact that the Ministry of Justice have just published what appears to be a final final final (no really it’s final) list of PDs on their website “for preview purposes only”. A large number of PDs are published here, entirely without fanfare, for the first time. It appears that this useful resource will be removed just as the rules come into force (for reasons which only the MoJ know). As I am delivering a seminar on the rules tomorrow I have spent a considerable amount of time today struggling to print out the PDs that are presently not available elsewhere before they are removed – be warned that it is not straightforward to do this given the format of the material. I am hoping that the MoJ will publish revised rules and PDs as they do with the CPR and Adoption Rules, but have not yet received a response to my enquiry about that. I am not sure how else litigants in person will be able to access a reliable and up to date version of the rules and PDs in one place, but no doubt the MoJ have thought of everything and have a plan. I suppose it might be contrary to government policy to encourage litigation by allowing ordinary people access to the rules. Thankfully the lucky members of the legal community have been given a whole three weeks in which to familiarise themselves with over 700 pages of new regulatory material, although we will have to wait a little longer to see the court forms.

Practice Directions to the New Family Procedure Rules 2010 – Mediation PD

I posted recently about the Practice Directions to the new Family Procedure Rules which come into force on 6 April. Practice Direction 3A Pre-Application Protocol for Mediation Information and Assessment has now been published along with a guidance note and Compliance Form FM1.

It provides that parties to private family proceedings must prior to issue have explored whether mediation might be an alternative method by which to resolve their dispute by attending a mediation information and assessment meeting. If they have not done this the court is likely on first hearing to adjourn pending attendance at such a meeting which constitutes non-compliance with the Protocol.

There are of course exceptions to the requirement to attend a Mediation information and assessment meeting. They are entirely those that I would expect to see, and they are numerous. For example domestic violence (but only where the police have been involved or an order has been sought in the last 12 months), urgency (but only where there is a risk to life, liberty or physical safety or to the home AND where any delay caused by mediation would cause a risk of significant harm to a child, significant risk of a miscarriage of justice, unreasonable hardship or irretrievable problems in dealing with the dispute (such as an irretrievable loss of significant data – which I take to be a nod to post-Imerman search orders).

It does strike me as odd that in a d.v. case where an applicant has fled or is fleeing the home and has yet to issue FLA Pt IV proceedings (or has no need of doing so because they are safely elsewhere, or who is too petrified to do so) one party wishes to issue s8 proceedings they would need to CROSS THRESHOLD in order to bypass mediation (the alternative would be to go through the motions and secure confirmation from a mediator that the case is unsuitable but this causes delay). I appreciate that there are a number of other exceptions which might apply to an application by the person fled from (for example that the whereabouts of the other party are unknown to the applicant), but the reference to significant harm nonetheless remains anomalous.

The problem with this long list of exceptions (and the almost comparably long list of exceptions to the exceptions) is that it may be rather more of a leaky bucket than a sieve. It’s practical effect is likely to be an increase in paperwork and irritation in many cases, and possibly an obstacle to justice in others, and I suspect (but am happy to be proved wrong) that it will not ultimately result in all that many more people using mediation, nor that it will result in a significant upshift in the numbers of people reaching durable, safe and fair agreements. I suppose it’s worth a try and I will embrace it, promote it, encourage my clients to comply with the spirit of it – but I’m skeptical.