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Jade Quirke
Jade Quirke
Family Solicitor
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Public Law Outline published
Date:13 FEB 2008

The long awaited Public Law Outline (PLO) has been published today. A copy can be downloaded from the Newswatch Practice Guidance section by clicking here.

The PLO will replace the existing Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Children Act Cases from 1 April 2008. It aims to reduce unnecessary delay and is designed to promote better co-operation between all the parties involved in care and supervision cases.

Under the PLO, the current six stages of the court process will be reduced to four. The court will set an appropriate timetable for the case, focused around the needs of the individual child. The PLO also promotes better case management and earlier identification of the key issues.

President of Family Division, Sir Mark Potter said:

"The new Public Law Outline for the conduct of Care proceedings is the welcome product of a co-operative enterprise between the judiciary and the Ministry of Justice to reduce delays and to improve the case management of care cases. Its success will be largely dependent on the co-operation and expertise of the dedicated specialist lawyers who will operate it."

The PLO has been developed alongside revised statutory guidance to local authorities, which sets out how they should prepare applications for care orders and other types of court orders. This guidance places a strong emphasis on close communications with families and on exploring options for children to be supported and cared for by their wider families while making clear that timely action should always be taken through the courts to safeguard children when necessary.

The final version of the PLO was shaped following consultation with the key family justice agencies and feedback from a number of initiative areas across England & Wales who tested the PLO.

In a statement, Bridget Prentice, Minister for Family Justice, said:

"Together, these reforms should mean less turmoil and distress and more certainty for children by encouraging all safe options for care of a child to be explored fully before court action is taken."