FAMILY PROCEEDINGS COURTS OF INNER AND GREATER LONDON by sdfsb346f

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									      THE FAMILY PROCEEDINGS COURTS OF INNER AND GREATER LONDON

                         THE LONDON CARE CENTRE
     SITTING AT THE PRINCIPAL REGISTRY OF THE FAMILY DIVISION, BARNET,
                  CROYDON AND KINGSTON COUNTY COURTS.

                                    The Public Law Outline

                             Initial Local Plan for London
[References to the ‘Practice Direction’ are to the ‘Practice Direction Guide to
Management in Public Law Proceedings’]

Introduction.

       1. This local plan sets out some of the practical arrangements to be taken by the
          parties and the courts in London when implementing the Public Law Outline.

       2. It will come into effect on the 21st April 2008, save that paragraph 9 will come into
          effect on the 1st May 2008, in relation both to all applications made on and after
          that date and also, where practicable, to all applications already made.

       3. This plan is being implemented so as to coincide with the formal commencement
          of the Public Law Outline. It is recognised that in practice changes will become
          desirable and the plan will be revised from time to time. Any suggestions and
          „feedback‟ will be most welcome. They can be sent to His Honour Judge Altman,
          the Designated Judge for London at the PRFD, or to Audrey Damazer OBE, Clerk
          to the Justices for London, at the Inner London Family Proceedings Court at Wells
          Street.


Commencement of Proceedings.

       4. There has been some uncertainty in London as to how much documentation
          must be filed on application. It is important that a balance is struck with the need,
          on the one hand, to present sufficient information for the parties and the court to
          know the essentials about the case and to make a meaningful contribution at an
          early stage, and the need, on the other hand, to avoid burdensome and excessive
          preparation of documents by the Local Authority.

       5. In London the following guidance will apply for the filing of documents on
          application:

          a. The local authority must file the application form, form PLO 1, and the
             Allocation Record and Timetable for the Child (paras 5.3 and 10.1).

          b.     The local authority is expected to file the remaining documents referred to in
                form PLO 1, if practicable and where applicable, and especially the Schedule
                of Proposed Findings, the Initial Social Work Statement, the Care Plan, and
                the Initial Core Assessment, subject to the guidance in paragraphs 10.2 and
                10.3. In the case of bulky documents it will be sufficient to state that they are
                available by arrangement.

          c. If the Schedule of Proposed Findings or the Local Authority Case Summary is
             not filed with the application they must be filed so the parties have them in
             reasonable time before the First Hearing.

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          d. The Local Authority must state in PLO 1 the reason for non-filing of any
             document.

          e. Proceedings that need to be commenced at a particular time should not be
             delayed by the Local Authority for the collection or preparation of any
             particular document. Provided explanation is included as referred to above,
             the court will not refuse to accept an application, and directions about any
             outstanding documentation will be given at the First Hearing.

      6. The Practice Direction (paragraph 4.2) recognises that the Pre-Application part of
         the Public Law Outline may not apply to all cases. For clarification and by way of
         example, in London it is recognised that often cases of non-accidental injury,
         sexual abuse, and a sudden crisis or event arising in the course of the Local
         Authority‟s handling of a neglect case, will often have elements of urgency that
         make the pre-application provisions of the Public Law Outline inappropriate. In
         such cases it is important that this be explained on the face of the documents.
         Once an application has been made in such cases the Public Law Outline will be
         applied wherever practicable to the in-court proceedings. Many such cases will
         involve finding of fact hearings and it is imperative that all parties co-operate at
         the earliest opportunity in the planning of the arrangements to timetable such fact-
         finding hearings as a matter of urgency.

      7. Parties are reminded that all statements MUST carry the date on the first page.

Disclosure

      8. Where the evidence in a case may include material needing disclosure by the
         police, this must be dealt with at an early stage in the proceedings. Although
         there is a protocol in London, in case of difficulty, the request for such disclosure
         can be addressed to the Director of Legal Services of the Metropolitan Police.
         Discussions are in hand to establish a particular point of contact in the
         department.

Renewal of Interim Care Orders and Practice Direction paragraph 5.5)

      9. As from the 1st May 2008 the following changes to the method of renewal of
         interim care orders will apply. Following either an initial consent or an order
         following a contested hearing, further applications for renewal will be granted on
         the written application of the Local Authority in the form attached to this local plan.
                   - Where there is consent, that consent will continue to apply at the
                      date of subsequent renewals unless notice of withdrawal of consent
                      is given not less than 4 days before the date of renewal.

                   -   In cases where the court makes an Interim Care Order after a
                       contested hearing, the reasons of the court will continue to apply at
                       the date of subsequent renewals, unless further application to
                       contest renewal is given not less than 4 days before the date of
                       renewal and the court agrees to list the same for hearing.

                   -   In cases of urgency a shorter period may be accepted, or else a
                       short interim order will be made and the matter listed for directions
                       urgently.

                   -   On transfer of a case to the county court, that court shall be notified
                       by the FPC of the existence of any continuing consent.


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      a. In addition, on application for renewal of an interim care order the applicant
         Local Authority will notify the court whether or not all management directions
         have been completed or whether any such directions are liable to be not met
         in the future. In such an event reasons must be given with the proposed
         solution. A form to be used by LAs in applying for renewal of an ICO is
         attached to this local plan.

      b. The Solicitor for the child should undertake a particular responsibility for
         monitoring the progress of a case and bringing any appropriate matter to the
         attention of the court and the other parties.


Transfer

      10. In the FPC the decision as to whether a case should be transferred must be taken
          at the First Hearing, except in exceptional cases.

      11. The FPC will direct the filing of all relevant documents to give effect to the Public
          Law Outline. The following further directions will be generally given:

           a. “Experts. Should any party wish to apply for the appointment of an expert,
              he/she must be identified, their appointment agreed if possible, and their
              proposed reporting time ascertained, in advance of the Case Management
              Conference.

           b. At the Case Management Conference the parties must be equipped with the
              non-availability dates of all relevant witnesses, experts, parties and
              representatives to enable full timetabling to take place up to and including the
              Issue Resolution Hearing, and to reserve a period for any final hearing.”

      12. There will be no „allocation hearing‟ in either the County Court, or in the High
          Court for those cases finally transferred there. The First Hearing in those courts
          will be the Case Management Conference. It is essential that work on preparing
          for this hearing proceed as quickly as possible so that useful directions made at
          the CMC can be implemented without overall delay to the child‟s timescale. To
          this end the parties are asked to concentrate their work into this early period so
          that all necessary directions can be made at the CMC. It is to be borne in mind
          that the Local Authority will have undertaken more preparatory work than would
          often have formerly been the case, that the parents and their legal advisers will
          have been involved, usually, before the issue of proceedings and that the
          guardian will have been actively involved from an early stage. Accordingly it is
          anticipated that with co-operation the work to prepare for the CMC can be
          undertaken in a short space of time. Also, it is frequently the case that actual
          work on advancing the case cannot usefully begin until the Case Management
          Conference. For these reasons, except in the most exceptional and rare
          situations this hearing will be listed between after 14 but no more than 28 days
          from the First Hearing, or subsequent hearing at which the transfer is ordered if
          relevant.

      13. At the First Hearing in the FPC where there is to be a transfer the clerk will
          telephone to the Care Centre and speak with the care clerk

                               (at the PRFD phone 020 7947 7917
                               at Barnet, phone 0208 371 7111,
                               at Croydon phone 0208 410 4780 and
                               at Kingston phone 0208 972 8715).


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                   -    A date will be obtained for the CMC generally not less than 10 nor
                        more than a maximum of 28 days ahead, which so far as possible
                        takes account of the availability of the parties and their
                        representatives. The parties are asked to co-operate in ensuring
                        that this period is kept as short as possible, and in due course it is
                        hoped to reduce the maximum period.

                   -    It is important that the file is transferred to the County Court on the
                        same or next working day following the First Hearing, or hearing
                        when the transfer takes place.

                   -    At the PRFD the care clerk will provide a date for a listing which
                        enables listing to be before either a District Judge who is assigned to
                        the group of which the particular Local Authority is a member, or
                        before a Circuit Judge.

                   -    At the PRFD the file will be first considered by the DFJ and will then
                        be transferred to the CMC judge. At other court centres on transfer
                        the file will be placed before the CMC judge for consideration.

                   -    Cases of urgency which require directions should be „flagged up‟ and
                        where appropriate the CMC will be listed urgently for the parties to
                        attend.

      14. Immediately on receipt of the file at the PRFD, it will be placed before the
          Designated Family Judge who will direct the particular court before which the
          CMC will be listed. It is important, therefore, that when a case is transferred to
          the County Court the file is transferred on the same, or next, day.


The Case Management Conference (Practice Direction section 14)

      15. Advocates’ Meeting. It is essential that this be timetabled for a date not less than
          5 days before the CMC, (or Issue Resolution Hearing) because this is the only
          way to provide for steps, agreed at the meeting, to be taken in time for the CMC.

      16. Draft Template Order (PLO 3). It is essential that the standard form in the
          Practice Direction is used, otherwise it cannot be transferred to the Court
          systems. The draft template can be downloaded from the Court Service website:

                       www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk

                       [click on ‘forms and guidance’ in mauve box on left.
                       Open drop down menu in the box marked ‘work type’, select
                          ‘Children Act’ and click on ‘find form’;
                       the list of PLO forms will appear. Select PLO 3]


      17. Full timetabling will take place at this hearing except in exceptional
          circumstances.

      18. It will be noted that there is generally no directions hearing between the CMC and
          the IRH. Accordingly the parties and the court will seek so far as possible to
          establish at the CMC the issues that the parties will seek to resolve at the IRH
          and the steps to be taken to achieve this.


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      19. At the CMC the court will expect to be able to give all directions necessary to
          ensure the preparation of all appropriate assessments and evidence with
          completed timetable detailing the resolution of all identified issues.
          a. The parties will be asked to confirm specifically that all assessments ordered
              at that stage are the ones that are appropriate to deal with the issues then
              identified, and where possible that fact will be recorded on the face of the
              order.
          b. It is essential, therefore, that all potential alternative carers are then identified
              also, even though the aspiration of the parties may be for the children to
              remain with their family.

      20. The Judge who hears the CMC will normally be both the case management judge
          and the hearing judge, presiding at any fact finding, issue resolution and final
          hearings. His/her name will appear on the face of the file.

Transfer to the High Court

      21. Any court considering the transfer of a case to the High Court must first consult
          with the FDLJ, Mr Justice Hedley or DFJ. Where appropriate the DFJ, after
          consultation with the FDLJ, will transfer the case to the High Court. At the PRFD
          this will be considered also when the file is transferred from the FPC.

      22. Where on transfer to the County Court the case is to be again transferred to the
          High Court the care clerk will speak with the Clerk of the Rules in order to list the
          CMC on the date already identified, if possible. If this is not possible appropriate
          consultation will take place but in any event the CMC will take place within the
          time referred to above.

      23. In cases of emergency a copy of the standard directions will be attached to the
          front of the file by the Clerk of the Rules and handed to the High Court Judge
          hearing the case.

      24. The President has confirmed that generally cases transferred to the High Court
          will come before the High Court Judge for the first time at the Case Management
          Conference and the Public Law Outline is intended to apply thereafter.

Single issue transfer

      25. This procedure is useful where an issue arises (such as an argument as to
          whether a particular assessment should be ordered) which merits consideration
          by the County Court in a case otherwise suitable for the FPC. In such a case this
          must be explained by the legal adviser on the telephone to the care clerk at the
          time of transfer. Further a label must be fixed to the front of the court file stating
          clearly both that this is proposed as a single issue transfer and also the dates
          being kept free in the FPC. It is essential that the FPC keep the next listed
          hearing date available until confirmation is received from the County Court. In
          case of doubt the Legal Adviser should contact the County Court to enquire as to
          progress of the case.

      26. In such a case the application will be listed for a speedy adjourned Case
          Management Conference on the single issue. At the conclusion of the directions
          hearing the court will decide whether to confirm transfer back to the FPC or to list
          the case for further hearings in the County Court. In either event it is imperative
          that the FPC be notified of the result so that they can manage their list
          accordingly.



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Fact Finding Hearings

       27. These hearings, whilst important in some cases, can lead to significant delay
           unless planning these hearings takes place expeditiously at an early stage.
           Reference should be made to the target times below.

Targets and listing of hearings (Paragraph 4.1(2) of the Practice Direction)

       28. The protocol requires an estimate to be made of a child‟s timescale. However, it
           is recognised that in all cases expedition is in the interests of a child. So as to
           provide a focus for all participants in care proceedings we recognise that the
           original Protocol target of 40 weeks still remains and to provide some flexibility
           within that period the following periods have been set. These are maxima, and
           not intended to provide dates by which to work backwards:

          a. Time from commencement of proceedings to any fact finding hearing: 12
             weeks.
          b. Time from commencement of proceedings to the Issue Resolution Hearing:
             25 weeks
          c. Time from commencement to final hearing: 40 weeks maximum.

       29. At Barnet, Croydon and Kingston it is intended that generally any final hearing will
           not be fixed until the Issue Resolution Hearing. At the PRFD at the present time it
           is generally necessary to fix a time for the final hearing at the CMC but in due
           course, as the lists become more flexible, it is hoped that in appropriate cases it
           will not be necessary to list any final hearing until the IRH when the position can
           be better judged. At the present time the delays caused by full lists and the
           difficulty in obtaining dates which are convenient for all including experts means
           that to wait until the IRH for final hearing listing risks further delay.


Miscellaneous

       30. Enquiries are made from time to time for permission to record proceedings or
           judgments informally on behalf of one or more of the parties. In London such
           recordings are not permitted.

       31. Attention is drawn to the general rule that „professionals‟ meetings‟ (as opposed to
           meetings of expert witnesses, generally chaired by the solicitor for the child), are
           not sanctioned. Section 6 the Practice Direction „Experts in Family Proceedings
           Relating to Children‟ refers to the practice to be followed in dealing with
           communications with an expert. In particular the procedure for asking questions
           by a questionnaire is recommended to the parties for consideration in a particular
           case.

       32. Local Authorities should ensure that so far as practicable a genogram is furnished
           with the application.


His Honour Judge John Altman
Designated Family Judge for London
10th April 2008




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          FAMILY PROCEEDINGS COURTS OF INNER AND GREATER LONDON

                         THE LONDON CARE CENTRE
     SITTING AT THE PRINCIPAL REGISTRY OF THE FAMILY DIVISION, BARNET,
                  CROYDON AND KINGSTON COUNTY COURTS.

                                  The Public Law Outline

  Application to renew an Interim Care Order in Accordance with the practice of the
                                     Local Plan

Name of Case

Number of Case

Name of Local Authority

Date of expiry of Interim Care Order

Date to which application to renew relates

Certificate

I confirm that no notice of withdrawal of consent has been received

I confirm that all directions have been complied with

I do not anticipate any future non-compliance or obstacle

OR: The following directions have not been or may not be complied with:




The following steps are proposed to remedy the situation. They have/have not been agreed
with the parties.




Signed:                                (position;                 ) Date:


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