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TUES 16/03/2010 - Revisions to the Practice Direction Guide to Case Management in Public Law Proceedings, more commonly known as the Public Law Outline (PLO), are due to come into force on 6 April 2010.
Ahead of the revised PLO coming into force, the Ministry of Justice has produced a guidance briefing about the changes and their impact.
The PLO was issued on 1 April 2008, and applies to all care and supervision proceedings and was designed to minimise unnecessary delay, with greater emphasis on case management and advocacy preparation.. As far as practicable, it is to be applied to all other family public law proceedings.
However, a review a year after it had been in operation found that there was inconsistency in compliance with the PLO requirements, and that the PLO paperwork was seen as unwieldy and in need of streamlining.
The revision of the PLO will therefore focus on three key areas: reducing the burden of documentary requirements at issue; clarifying the 'Timetable for the Child' principle, and; improving the PLO forms.
The revised PLO will streamline the documentary requirements on issue. It also provides further guidance on the principle relating to the Timetable for the Child, and how this needs to work with the overall framework of the PLO and the timescales of the various stages within it. In addition, the overly cumbersome original PLO forms have also been streamlined and simplified.
The overall framework of the original PLO has not been affected by the changes. There are still the same four stages and the same timescales also apply to the each stage as before.
Some important changes have been made to the Pre-proceedings stage of the PLO - this makes a distinction between the checklist documents required at Issue, and other documents to be disclosed by the First Appointment - or as directed by the court. A new form C110 contains an annex with a list of the six documents that need to be filed at the time of issue with the application for care and supervision orders. The rules will provide that only the annex documents should be filed at issue. The aim is to ensure that proceedings aimed at protecting children are not delayed by reason of a missing document.
In addition, there will be a new rule, which makes express reference to the court setting the timetable for the proceedings for a care or a supervision order in accordance with the Timetable for the Child defined in the rule.
The revisions to the PLO will apply to applications issued from 6 April 2010. However, the court may direct in any individual case that the revised PLO will apply in whole or in part.