The Ministry of Justice have published a Practice Direction Amendment which makes three minor changes to existing practice directions:
a. It limits the number of pages of certain core documents within court bundles;
b. It amends the Child arrangements programme to strengthen the use of Form C1A when making decisions about allocation and case managements; and
c. It amends the names of the track to ensure consistency amongst the practice direction and enables parties to ask the court to change the track of the case.
The provisions of Practice Direction 27A relate to the preparation of court bundles and specify what documents should be contained within a court bundle. It is designed to achieve consistency in family proceedings in the family court and Family Division of the High Court. It also directs that only those documents which are relevant to the hearing should be included in a bundle. The changes limit the number of pages within bundles submitted to the court for use in the hearing. The changes also limit the page numbers of core documents, specifically, witness statements to a maximum of 25 pages, expert reports to a maximum of 40 pages and care plans to a maximum of 10 pages. Practice Direction 12B outlines the procedure in relation to applications about arrangements for children made under s 8 of the Children Act 1989. These amendments now make more effective use of the Form C1A (which details allegations of harm) when identifying any safeguarding issues in the proceedings. Operational staff now make provision for serving copies of Form C1A on Cafcass when it has been submitted by either the applicant or the respondent. This amended process is reflected in the Practice Direction so parties are aware of how Form C1A will be used when decisions are made about allocation and case management. On 4 July 2018, amendments to Part 9 of the Family Procedure Rules with a supporting Practice Direction came into force. This further amendment to Practice Direction 9A clarifies that if the financial remedy application only seeks an order for a periodical payment, then the case will be allocated to the fast-track which is intended to be a faster and simpler process for those cases where the issues are not complex. The changes also enable an applicant in a financial remedy application, whose case has been allocated to the fast track, to make a request for the track to be changed, giving reasons for this request, within 7 days of the application being served on the respondent.
The Practice Direction amending document can be found below.Practice Direction amending document - July amendments to PD 9A, PD12B and PD27A.DOCX