A family law group considering the role of children and vulnerable witnesses in family courts has published its first report.
The Children and Vulnerable Witnesses Working Group was established by the President of the Family Division in June.
Sir James Munby announced the formation of the group in his 12th View from the President’s Chambers, a communication which also established the Financial Remedies Working Group.
The Children and Vulnerable Witnesses Group was tasked with addressing the:
“…pressing need for us to address the wider issue of vulnerable people giving evidence in family proceedings, something in which the family justice system lags woefully behind the criminal justice system”
The group’s newly published interim report sets out some initial recommendations and suggestions. These include:
*The addition of new section to the Family Procedure Rules which would emphasize “the importance of the role of the child and the need to identify the necessary support /special measures for vulnerable witnesses and/or parties from the start of any proceedings, or at the earliest opportunity”.
*A requirement that judges identify vulnerable witnesses or parties to the proceedings at the outset and arrange for any support they may require to “properly and fully participate in the proceedings”.
*A requirement that solicitors and other legal professionals properly consider the needs of children giving evidence and provide appropriate assistance and support.
Read the full report here.