Well, I’ve done my good deed for the day. This is about my only practically useful achievement this week as I have been mired in procrastination and diversionary tactics.
In the course of doing some research for some writing about reporting restriction orders recently, I realised that the version of the 2005 Cafcass / OffSol Practice Note on Reporting Restriction Orders that appears in the Family Court Practice (Red Book) is different from the version appearing elsewhere – including in major textbooks, via Lexis at the original 2005 FLR citation, and most importantly on the CopyDirect website (which is where I suspect most will go to find it). The Red Book version is marked as “updated March 2015“. However, it appears that CAFCASS neglected to circulate it other than to the editors of the Red Book and, until I directly asked them today, hadn’t published it on their site – so it was only available to those with the right subscription. I would guess that many media lawyers would access the note via CopyDirect or Lexis and not from the Red Book (which is more of a family lawyer’s friend), so they will probably have been happily oblivious that there have been any changes. The changes are not radical, and are largely in the form of updating, but neither are they negligible.
This is how our conversation began…
Not a terribly promising start. However, one thing CAFCASS are really good at is responding by email once you’ve raised a query on twitter. Their comms team are on the ball. And so, I’m happy to say the 2015 version is now on the CAFCASS website here, listed on their policies page and CAFCASS say :
Re the practice note, this was something Cafcass and the Official Solicitor agreed to provide as a resource a number of years ago (2004) to practitioners who were making applications for RROs. Since then the document has been updated (2015) and the contact details of Cafcass and the Official Solicitor were removed to avoid giving the impression that legal advice would be provided by those organisations. That said, it remains a published document containing what we hope is useful guidance and should be available somewhere other than the online red book.
Belated recognition of the need to make publicly available one’s own guidance if you expect it to be followed, but welcome nonetheless.
I included links above to both the pdf and the policies page because it is possible that the first link will be altered at some point, as CAFCASS seem to have uploaded a PDF of the relevant bit of the Red Book, which incorporates their editorial commentary notes, and I think is probably therefore not CAFCASS copyright. I’ve let CAFCASS know about this possible issue, along with the fact that publishing the document in this way makes it look as if the commentary notes are part of the substantive guidance.
I expect that the Copydirect site will be updated in due course, but its the summer hols – so in the short term anyone applying for a RRO should look to the Red Book or the CAFCASS website.
You may send tokens of your gratitude to my flunkies whilst I am away*…
*what IS a flunky?
Feature pic : Bill Barber on Flickr (creative commons licence – thanks!)