The Justice Select Committee’s Inquiry into the Working of the Family Courts

The Justice Select Committee's Inquiry into the Working of the Family Courts, submission of the Association of Lawyers for Children.

CAFCASS is considered at pages 3 to 9. In our submission we contrast the delivery of a service to children in public law cases before CAFCASS took over responsibility with the position as it has developed under CAFCASS’ stewardship, and we call for radical and urgent reform of the way in which the services provided by Children’s Guardians in particular are delivered.

CHANGES TO LEGAL AID are considered at pages 10 to 18. The bulk of our submission addresses the contracting changes proposed by the 2010 bid round, which of course, at the time this submission is lodged is the subject of a pending application for judicial review. We contrast the willingness of the Legal Services Commission to enter into detailed discussion over drastic changes to the fees structure (which eventually resulted in broad consensus) with their failure to enter into any such discussion about the tender criteria (which has resulted in an outcome viewed in all quarters of the family justice system as potentially disastrous).

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION is considered at pages 19 to 20. We emphasise that such services require to be properly funded if they are to be effective, and 3 that a high degree of skill and experience are essential attributes of the professionals involved if such initiatives are to work.

CONFIDENTIALITY AND OPENNESS IN FAMILY COURTS is considered at pages 21 to 28. We draw attention to the fact that, in constructing the new rules and legislation, the views of children and young people were ignored, and that the current legislation raises substantial problems and concerns (including compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child).

Download response