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The long awaited Family Procedure Rules 2010 for England and Wales have been published and will come into force on 6 April 2011. The Rules provide a single set of rules of court for family proceedings in the High Court, county courts and magistrates' courts, on the model first established by the Civil Procedure Rules.
Like the Civil Procedure Rules, they are supplemented by dedicated Practice Directions and forms (yet to be published), establishing a comprehensive modernised code of family procedure replacing a large body of unconsolidated rules, guidance and forms for different courts and different types of proceedings.
The aim of the Family Procedure Rule Committee has been to follow the example set by the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 and produce one set of simple and simply expressed rules of court for all family proceedings. A significant first tranche of these rules, the Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules, was made in October 2005, and much of the modernising approach of that first tranche has been carried through for the fully consolidated Family Procedure Rules. In addition, full public consultation has been carried out on the policy underlying the Family Procedure Rules, and on the draft text of the Rules themselves.
The four key objectives that the Rules aim to achieve are: the modernisation of language; streamlining of procedure and harmonisation with the Civil Procedure Rules; a single unified code of practice; and alignment in all levels of court.
The Family Procedure Rule Committee and the Ministry of Justice will also carry out work in the period up to implementation to raise awareness of the new Court Rules among practitioners and court users.
In 2011 Jordan Publishing will provide updated guidance and training on the Family Procedure Rules 2010, including in the new editions of Family Court Practice, Hershman and McFarlane: Children Law and Practice, and APractical Guide to Family Proceedings.