Practice Guidance: Standard Family Orders. Response of the Association of Lawyers for Children

The ALC welcomes this opportunity to comment on this second batch of proposed standard orders.  We did not respond to the consultation in relation to the first batch of orders, which related primarily to financial matters, because the subject matter falls outside our area of expertise. In relation to this consultation, we propose to make some brief general comments and then some specific comments about a number of the proposed orders. In doing this, we will concentrate on public law Children Act proceedings, which represent our core business. 

In general, we welcome the move towards having a menu of standard orders that can be used in the majority of cases, while always acknowledging that there will be some cases that need bespoke drafting. That said, we are concerned that some of the orders, especially the case management orders for public and private law (7.2 and 8.2) are now too extensive to be usable. It is not realistic to expect practitioners to work from a 20+ page/130 paragraph draft for every hearing, bearing in mind that most of the directions contained in the draft will not apply in most cases.  As things stand, practitioners generally still have to work from printed copies of the forms, which at this length will be too unwieldy.  In relation to public law proceedings, the burden will fall primarily on those who represent local authorities.  We understand that some members of the Bar who do a lot of work for local authorities and who already spend a great deal of time drafting orders are concerned that the additional burden may make local authority work (which is not well-paid at the best of times) completely uneconomic. Click here to continue reading.