The dust is only just starting to settle
following the April 2014 changes in the family law arena, but now two reports
have been published dealing with further changes to family proceedings.
Readers of Family Law will recall that The President’s 12th ‘View from the President’s Chambers
’, published on 4 June 2014, introduced two
working groups which were to produce their interim reports by 31 July 2014; the
Children and Vulnerable Witness Working Group and the Financial Remedies
Working Group (who are working on the new Money Arrangements Programme – the
This Essential Update deals with the report of the Financial Remedies Working
The report considers that the current
procedure of Form Es, FDA, FDR and final hearing works well and should
continue. But it recommends a number of improvements, some of which would
necessitate changes to the FPR 2010.
Of note is that there is an emphasis on
resolution of disputes through FDRs and family arbitration.
The key to the proposals is the adoption of
a unified procedure for all financial remedy proceedings. There is a focus on dispute resolution and on
the needs of Litigants in Person, as well as a proposed standard set of court
12 August 2014
– The report of the Financial Remedies Working Group was circulated.
No date has been given yet for the proposed
changes being implemented, so there’s still time to make your views known as
part of the consultation.
– The pilot Accelerated
First Appointment procedure (currently in use at the Central Family Court –
) will be reviewed.
October or November 2014
– proposed amendments to the FPR 2010 regarding re-opening
first instance orders and setting aside a final order in specified
circumstances will be considered by FPRC.
Remedies Working Group Report
of the Key Recommendations:
One Unified Procedure
This will apply to all financial remedies
applications, including financial order applications after a divorce and
Children Act Schedule 1 applications.
For applications under Part III Matrimonial and
Family Proceedings Act 1984 (financial relief after an overseas divorce), the
recommendation is that once permission has been obtained under section 13, the
application should continue under the unified procedure.
Review of the availability of financial proceedings
in the Magistrates Court
Now that we are established in the era of the single
family court, the report recommends a review of the separate financial
jurisdiction contained in Part I of the Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates
Court Act 1978.
Reconsideration of the short cut Chapter V FPR 2010
Of note to practitioners is that this will have the
effect of reinstating compulsory FDRs in variation and Sch 1 Children Act
Instead, the shorter procedures will be limited to
international applications under the Maintenance Regulation or the Hague
Review of international enforcement procedures
It is recommended that a review of these procedures
should be undertaken promptly, to take into account the new single family
court. No further detail is given at this stage.
A simplification of the number of financial remedy forms
is envisaged. Instead it is proposed
that there will be one form; the Form E (with the E1 and E2 being scrapped). This will be adapted to take into account
that its new intended use in all financial remedy applications.
The proposed draft is available here
(it still looks like a Form E, no radical changes –
it has just been tweaked).
Commencement of financial remedy proceedings
It is proposed that it will no longer be necessary
for both parties to a marriage to issue Form As to have their financial remedy
applications considered. Once a Form A
has been issued by one of the parties, all possible applications will be up for
consideration by the court. This proposal means that solicitors will no longer
be drafting Forms A ‘for dismissal purposes only’.
Dispute resolution is one of the key themes
throughout the report.
It is recommended that FDR hearings should be
compulsory in financial remedy applications, usually taking place on the first
occasion the parties attend court.
The FPR 2010 will be amended to require the parties
to attend court prepared for an FDR.
Applications for financial relief after an overseas
The report recommends that consideration be given to
whether, in the family court, an application for leave (even where opposed) should
be heard by a judge of High Court level, and be made automatically without notice,
with the court having power to direct that it be heard on notice.