Amendments to the practice directions supplementing the Family Procedure Rules 2010, SI 2010/2955 (FPR 2010) come into force on 3 October 2016. The changes relate to mediation information and assessment meetings (MIAMs), applications to set aside a financial remedy order, the communication of information in children proceedings, appeals and other minor amendments. In addition amendments are made in relation to family court forms.
What is changing?
The key changes in relation to MIAMs is that FPR 2010, PD 3A is amended allowing applicants seeking a MIAM exemption to provide evidence of domestic violence within the past 60 months instead of 24 months. In addition a new exemption on the ground of financial abuse is now included. Finally, a definition has been included in the checklist to assist applicants with the criteria that will be applied by the courts to assist them in determining the ground that applies to them.
Application to set aside a financial remedy
FPR 2010, PD 9A is amended to insert (after para 12.2) new provisions to correspond with the changes made by the Family Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2016, SI 2016/901, which insert a new FPR 2010, SI 2010/2955, 9.9A as to applications to set aside a financial remedy order of the court where no error of the court is alleged, and as to the costs of such an application.
Communication of information
FPR 2010, PD 12G is amended to insert in the table in para 2.1 provision for a legal representative or a professional legal advisor to communicate any information relating to the proceedings to a professional indemnity insurer so as to enable the professional indemnity insurer to be notified of a claim or complaint, or potential claim or complaint, in relation to the legal representative or a professional legal adviser, and the legal representative or professional legal adviser to obtain advice in respect of that claim or complaint. FPR 2010, PD 12G supplements FPR 2010, SI 2010/2955, Pt 12 as to proceedings relating to children except parental order proceedings and proceedings for applications in adoption, placement and related proceedings.
In addition FPR 2010, PD 14E is amended in the same terms as to applications in adoption, placement and related proceedings.
Appointment of a guardian or litigation friend
FPR 2010, PD 16A is amended to omit para 2.2 which currently provides: ‘A litigation friend who is an officer of the Service or a Welsh family proceedings officer has, in addition, the duties set out in Part 3 of this Practice Direction and must exercise those duties as set out in that Part.’
What are the changes in relation to appeals?
The changes to FPR 2010, PD 30A reflect the changes made to the substantive rules by the Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) (Amendment) Order 2016, SI 2016/891.
The 2016 Order provides for the route of appeal from certain decisions or orders of circuit judges and recorders sitting in the Family Court to be to the High Court, rather than the Court of Appeal, as provided by section 31K of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 (MFPA 1984) or (in so far as appeals against decisions of the Family Court relating to contempt of court are concerned) section 13(2A) of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 (AJA 1960).
The effect of the amendments made by the 2016 Order, art 2 is that appeals from all decisions, or orders, of a circuit judge or recorder sitting in the Family Court will lie to the High Court, except where:
- the appeal is from a decision or order made in relation to contempt of court in, or in connection with, proceedings of a type referred to above
- the appeal is a second appeal to the Family Court, or
- the person who made the order was, when the order was made, deployed in the Family Court other than as a circuit judge or a recorder
The 2016 Order, art 3 makes a consequential amendment to FPR 2010, SI 2010/2955, 30.3 which sets out the requirements as to permission to appeal. The consequential amendments to FPR 2010, PD 30A are:
- to the table in para 2.1 as to routes of appeal
- in the text which follows the table at para 2.1, at the end of the second paragraph the following is inserted: ‘Amendments to the 2014 Order (made by the Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) (Amendment) Order 2016) route certain appeals from Circuit Judges or Recorders to the High Court instead of the Court of Appeal. These appeals are heard by a High Court judge sitting in the High Court (see paragraph 8.4 below).’
- a new para 4.1 as to permission to appeal is substituted together with new paras 4.1A and 4.1B
- a new para 5.8 as to documents for appeals to the Family Court is substituted, and a new para 5.10 as to documents for appeals to the High Court, with additional new paras 5.10A-5.10C
For other consequential amendments, see: amendments-to-fpr-2010-practice-directions-with-effect-from-3-october-2016.
Which forms are changing?
FPR 2010, PD 5A is amended to reflect the changes to a number of family court forms as a consequence of the changes to the rules and practice directions. Changes that take effect from 3 October 2016 are detailed here: amendments-to-fpr-2010-pd-5a-with-effect-from-3-october-2016.
What are the transitional provisions?
The amendments made to FPR 2010, PD 3A apply to proceedings commenced on or after 3 October 2016. The amendments made to FPR 2010, PD 30A, except for paragraph 4.1B, do not apply in relation to an appeal under MFPA 1984, s 31K or AJA 1960, s 13(2A) if the notice of appeal was filed before the date on which the amendments made by those paragraphs come into force. Notice of appeal includes an application seeking permission to appeal.
Geraldine Morris is a solicitor and Head of LexisPSL Family.