Care proceedings – piloted changes

Resolution have reported that the Ministry of Justice is currently running a pilot scheme to assess the effectiveness and impact of Settlement Conferences in family proceedings, as used in other jurisdictions.

This is a pilot that is being undertaken in Bristol, Cardiff and London areas for five months which will change the process of public law proceedings, where the Local Authority issue proceedings in respect of children.

The current process includes an initial case management hearing, and the proceedings are generally then timetabled to a hearing known as an issues resolution hearing.  It is at this hearing that the parties will be asked if they consent to take part in a settlement conference to be assisted by a judge, other than the trial judge. If there is agreement the court will still list the case for a final hearing date as well as a settlement conference date.  This is to ensure that there is no delay if the matter is not resolved and a final hearing needs to take place.

The judge will work with parties who will continue to have the benefit of legal representation in order to promote a settlement.  Parties are under no obligation or pressure to agree to anything at a settlement conference. If agreement is not reached, the case will proceed to final hearing.

If there is agreement on all matters, at the settlement conference the case will come to a conclusion and an order will be made without the need for attendance at further hearings.

For further information please contact our Family team via email or phone 0800 689 1058. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Gill Carr

About Gill Carr

Gill Carr is an Associate Solicitor within the Family department at Forbes Solicitors. Gill’s blogs cover his specialisms of child protection, acting for both parents and children together with family members. Gill also advises and comments upon forced marriage, divorce, separation, child arrangements and financial matters. Gill writes about current legislation and case law relating to family law.
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