The Family Procedure Rules 2010, which come into force on 6 April, will replace existing rules of court for family proceedings.

The rules as enacted by statutory instrument follow a similar structure to that of the Civil Procedure Rules and comprise nearly 300 pages.

They provide a new code of procedure for family proceedings in the High Court, county court and magistrates’ courts.

Stephen Cobb QC, Chair of the Family Law Bar Association (“FLBA”), said the FLBA welcomed the publication of the “long-awaited” Rules.
“I believe that practitioners will find the rules user-friendly given the modernisation of the language, and the streamlining of many of the procedures,” he said.

“For the first time, we will have a unified code of practice for all tiers of court. Under the guiding lodestar of the overriding objective (ie to enable the court to deal with cases justly, having regard to any welfare issues involved), the procedural “code” is comprehensive and clear.

“Importantly, early in the rules is to be found the requirement that the court must consider, at every stage in proceedings, whether alternative dispute resolution is appropriate (rule 3.2) — an important provision which I believe is likely to attract the support of all those engaged in the field of family justice.

“Most of the Practice Directions are yet to be published; they will provide the important buttress to the rules themselves.”

 The FLBA is organising a training event on 9 March 2011, to be led by Senior District Judge Waller, with a question and answer session for a panel of experts.