Following a review into ways of managing private law children cases by the Courts during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been decided that a more tailored approach to individual cases is needed.

The new procedure will apply to all applications from the  1st September 2020. The aim is to be more flexible and reduce delays. It also changes the first hearing under the current procedure to a paper exercise by the Court.

Under the new system, once the Court receives an application concerning a child, a Child and Family Court Adviser (CAFCASS officer) will prepare a letter for the Judge to consider advising upon any safeguarding issues that may arise after undertaking background checks with Social Services and the Police. This is known as a Safeguarding Letter. Directions will then be made, without a hearing, by the Judge for the management of the case which may include obtaining reports or filing statements. The Judge may discuss with CAFCASS the needs of the case to tailor the directions. The matter will also be listed for a hearing once those steps have been completed. This procedure will apply to all cases unless the application is considered to be urgent by the Judge.

The new procedure will reviewed after 6 months to ensure that it is meeting the needs of the parties.

For more information about any of the issues raised in this article please contact our Family Department on 01524 846846.