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Care proceedings in 26 weeks: justice, speed and thoroughness

Date:1 MAY 2014

Family Law special issue

Dr Jonathan Dickens Centre for Research on Children and Families University of East Anglia

The challenges of reconciling speed and thoroughness in child care cases are well known to all practitioners in the family justice system. In that sense the current programme to drive down the duration of care proceedings to 26 weeks is nothing new but rather an intensification of long-standing and highly demanding dilemmas. This paper draws on findings from two research projects to highlight how the tensions play out in practice and to identify some key messages for lawyers and the courts. The first is a study of the formal pre-proceedings process in England and Wales (the pre-proceedings letter and meeting) undertaken in 2010-12 by the Universities of Bristol and East Anglia (Masson et al Partnership by Law? (2013)). The second is an evaluation of the Tri-borough care proceedings pilot...

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