Local Family Justice Board’s Newsletter

Welcome to the third issue of the Greater Manchester’s Local Family Justice Board’s Newsletter.

This quarter we mark the very sad passing of Janice Thompson (Local Authority Solicitor) and Her Honour Judge Elizabeth Rylands (Barrister on Northern Circuit and CJ on Western Circuit) both of whom had a strong commitment to family justice and many of us had the pleasure of working with them in various roles over many years.

We will say goodbye shortly to The Hon. Mr Justice Peter Jackson who is retiring. We wish to express our thanks to him for the huge impact he has made over the years and visible presence with us in the North West.  We wish the very best in his retirement.  The Hon. Mr Justice Anthony Hayden becomes the new Family Division Liaison Judge from 31st July 2017. We also welcome into the Civil Justice Centre, District Judges Greensmith, Goodchild, Fox, Simpson, Manasse, Swindley and Evans.

Here’s a snapshot of Board news for this quarter: –

Greater Manchester March 2017 KPI statistics compared to England & Wales

Despite another increase in the volume of applications KPI statistics remain below E&W.

Public Law

  • 6 average weeks (E&W 27.3)
  • 61% conclude in 26 wks (E&W 58%)
  • 9 average no. of hrgs (E&W 5.3)

Private Law

  • 65% listed for FDHRA within 6 weeks of application (E&W 65%)
  • 9 average weeks from receipt to final order (E&W 22)

This quarter: –

  • Mr Justice Jackson speaks at the Child Concern event on 14th July 2017.
  • Wifi has been trialled with Judges and Magistrates and has gone live with materials being distributed to Court users and details displayed throughout the building.
  • Level 10 holds a newly refurbished children’s room, primarily for children on adoption visits. Many thanks to Alison Church on the HMCTS Family Team for the refurbishment.
  • Thanks to Paul Ridings for the pioneering agile design of an electronic tool assisting court staff, Judges and Legal Advisors.
  • The Regionalised Adoption Agency (Stockport, Manchester, Salford, Trafford and Cheshire East) goes live in July 2017.
  • Court closure update – Bury and Bolton move back to June 2017. Oldham closes in July 2017. The work in those Courts will transfer to the Civil Justice Centre. The CJC will have 52 Courts but 57 Judges. Another reminder goes out to you that Circuit time markings are available!       Please agree in advance and ask the Judge if it is possible.
  • Another reminder – Social Workers and Guardians – do you need to be present at a Court hearing or could you be contactable by phone, please discuss the options with your legal advisor.       The judiciary will grant non attendance depending on the hearing
  • Are you keeping Court Bundles to 350 pages – discuss at every hearing and ask the Judge to agree
  • The quality of Cafcass Safeguarding Reports for private law matters continue to receive excellent feedback improving further the quality of s7 Reports.
  • No hearings involving Prisoners will be held at the CJC. From 5th June 2017, any hearings involving Prisoners will be held at Crown Square. Wherever the hearing takes place, please be reminded that the Potentially Violent Persons Protocol is still administered through the CJC.

Work of the LFJB sub groups this quarter: –

Private Law Sub Group

  • Signposting and diverting to mediation

Public Law Sub Group this quarter: –

  • Task and Finish Group are still working on their audit of Care Orders at home
  • Improved pre-proceedings and avoiding drift in pre-proceedings
  • Reducing the length of hearings by more pre-proceedings and post Court hearings correspondence
  • Consideration of the benefits of PAMS assessments, are they being commissioned at the right time

Training: –

  • All of the Greater Manchester local practice directions and protocols can be found in one place at http://www.gmfcf.org/gm-family-court-forum.html
  • Have you identified a future training need – the GM Education and Training Committee would like to hear from you.

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