The 26 week time limit for family law cases proposed by Mr Justice Ryder earlier this year is “inadequate”, say leading law groups.
Representatives of the Law Society, the Family Law Bar Association and the Association of Lawyers for Children told the justice committee was unsuitable for most cases and could represent a “potentially unlawful interference with judicial discretion”. The groups accepted the need to avoid unnecessary delay but were opposed to the setting of a time limit.
In written evidence to the committee the Society had expanded on its thinking: “Care proceeding cases are often complex, dealing with vulnerable children and parents, requiring concomitant assessments and sometimes running in parallel with concurrent criminal proceedings…..Cases involving complex fact-finding, those involving large families or absent family members, or where a child has complex medical needs, such as a disability, will rarely be resolved in under 26 weeks.”
The 26 week timetable was one of the proposals set out in Mr Justice Ryder’s Judicial Proposals for the Modernisation of Family Justice, published in July:
“…a timetable track which will presume that non exceptional cases can be completed in 26 weeks.”