Plans to simplify family court procedures were announced on 22 February. As part of a continuing programme of improvements to people's experience in court, the proposals aim to modernise legal language and align procedures in the different levels of court following the example set by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). The proposals draw on comments made in the course of public consultation invited on 30 August 2006.
The main issues identified in the consultation paper were:
- modernisation of language;
- harmonisation with the CPR;
- consolidation into a unified code of practice;
- alignment of procedures in all levels of court.
Justice Minister Bridget Prentice said:
'The new proposals will make it easier for people to follow what is being said in court. Outdated language will be replaced by every day terms that reflect the way people think in the 21st century.'
'The procedures will also be easier to use by those without a lawyer as the rules for all family proceedings will be in one easily accessible code.'
The simplification of procedures envisaged by the new rules will entail service of documents by e-mail and use of statements of truth as opposed to sworn affidavits in undefended divorce cases.
The Family Procedure Rule Committee is due to start consultation on the draft Family Procedure Rules by the end of 2008.