News: 26 weeks timetable for family law cases ‘aspirational’ says Mr Justice Ryder

Family Law|News|October 19th 2012

The 26 week timetable proposed earlier this year for most family law cases is aspirational only and not set in stone, said Mr Justice Ryder earlier this week.

Speaking at the annual conference of professional body Nagalro,  reports suggest that the judge insisted that there had been “no missive from on high” in relation to the 26 week timetable and said it might be achievable in two years time. He was speaking in response to reports that some courts have already begun to impose the timetable in a rigid way, even when this impedes a just solution for families and children.

The 26 week timetable was a key proposal in Mr Justice Ryder’s Judicial Proposals for the Modernisation of Family Justice, published in July. This set out:

“…a timetable track which will presume that nonexceptional cases can be completed in 26 weeks. These will be known as pathways and they will describe in permissory language how to achieve the objective i.e. making the best decision for the child within the welfare timetable set for the child.”

This report, however, does have the status of a practice direction , said Mr Justice Ryder, and in any case, early data suggested that the 26 weeks was only achievable in about 30 per cent of cases.

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