Book Review: THE RED BOOK (Family Court Practice 2011)

Many will already have their Red Book by now. But many will still be pondering it, increasingly conscious of the delicate balance between overheads and income. But really, if ever there was a year when you needed an up to date FCP it is this year. 2010 editions are pretty much obsolete as a result of the introduction of the FPR 2010, and for those of you like me who have been getting by on a 2009 edition and the occasional borrow of a 2010 – you really need to take a deep breath and click “buy”.

First things first: it’s not much bigger. Some things are new or additional, others have become redundant or have been repealed.

The Red Book 2011

Of course it is already out of date, as is the way with any print publication. The FPR have been amended already and the Red Book will not incorporate this. It does however contain the new Care Planning, Placement & Case Review (England) Regs 2010 which replace the Placement with Parents Regs (not in Wales).

The format is pretty familiar: Procedural Guides and then Statutes make up the first two sections. However there is now a separate section for Procedure Rules, and this is set out so as to incorporate the PDs to each part of the rules at the end of that part, rather than in a separate PDs section. This seems a sensible decision and is quite workable. Also in this section are relevant extracts of the CPR, CCR, Mags Court Rules and Supreme Court Rules.

There is now a much smaller section for Statutory Instruments, the most regularly relevant of which are likely to be the CPPCR Regs mentioned above, the Allocation & Transfer of Proceedings Order and the provisions on appeals and international adoptions.

Part V contains all the pre-existing PDs which are not specifically incorporated into the FPR but which are “thought to be still in force at the time of going to press”. As may be imagined, many are rather arcane or obscure, but a few are likely to be useful from time to time.

As previously European material is contained in the final Part.

I have been trialling this edition of the Red Book in court for a couple of weeks, but it is difficult without a rather more sustained period of use to assess the index fully. It appears from my limited test drive that the index may be rather more comprehensive in this edition than previously. The utterly useless index has always been something of a bugbear with me, whilst the logical arrangement of sections by type and in alphabetical order has always been something of a saving grace.

There is a reasonable amount of commentary in the notes to the FPR, but perhaps unsuprisingly no answers to questions such as “what is the position in respect of appeals / set asides where no error of the court is alleged?” (or none that I can find). The one clue in relation to that that I have been able to locate is at p2051 in the discussion of costs provisions, where “set aside” and “barder appeals” is listed alongside “other part 18 applications” as a species of financial remedy proceedings, which implies that the editor of that section considered that such applications are still permissible, although it does not tell us how they are to be framed or from where jurisdiction arises.

The Red Book is clearly a mammoth undertaking, particularly since so much of it’s contents this year are entirely new. But it is important that it is a trustworthy and reliable repository of core information. It is somewhat concerning to note therefore to note errors in the transposition of the FPR from the Statutory Instrument into the text of this work. For example at p2049-2050 rule 28.3(4) is incorrectly numbered, and a commentary note intending to relate to this rule itself transposes 28.4(3) for 28.3(4). These may be an isolated errors, and in the grand scheme of things do not present too much of a problem, but coupled with the fact that a printing error left me having to return my review copy for a fresh one (having identified that it was missing a large chunk of pages) it leaves me slightly uneasy. Hopefully these understandable difficulties will be ironed out by the time the 2012 edition is published and, as post-FPR caselaw emerges, the commentary will no doubt begin to add more value.

You can buy the Family Court Practice directly from Jordans although you may find it [amazon_link id=”1846612810″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]cheaper to shop around[/amazon_link] (saving almost £40 off the £350 cover price).

3 thoughts on “Book Review: THE RED BOOK (Family Court Practice 2011)

  1. This is my only annual purchase. I also buy Hershman & McFarlane, but only every other year.

    The expense does bother me, and I take on board your well made comment about updating this book being a mammoth task. I do wish, however, that Jordan’s could do something about the price. 300 notes is a lot of money for the junior end of the bar/small practices, and those wholly dependant on (non) payments from the LSC.

    • Yes, and I recall with the White Book the publishers used to give a significant discount for the newly qualified. It would be nice to see that with the Red Book wouldn’t it?

  2. They might still do, I know the junior juniors in chambers who practice crime qualify for a discount with Archbold.

    Even putting aside the newly qualified discount, I still think £300 is steep for a single volume work.

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