PRACTICE DIRECTION 12A - CARE, SUPERVISION AND OTHER PART 4 PROCEEDINGS: GUIDE TO CASE MANAGEMENT
PRACTICE DIRECTION 12A – CARE, SUPERVISION AND OTHER PART 4 PROCEEDINGS: GUIDE TO CASE MANAGEMENT
|The key stages of the court process||para 1.1|
|Public Law Outline|
|Flexible powers of the court||para 2.1|
|Compliance with pre-proceedings checklist||para 3.1|
|The timetable for the child and the timetable for proceedings||para 5.1|
|Extensions to the timetable for proceedings||para 6.1|
The Public Law Outline set out in the Table below contains an outline of –
(1) the order of the different stages of the process;
(2) the matters to be considered at the main case management hearings;
(3) the latest timescales within which the main stages of the process should take place in order to resolve the proceedings within 26 weeks.
In the Public Law Outline –
(1) ‘CMH’ means the Case Management Hearing;
(2) ‘FCMH’ means Further Case Management Hearing;
(3) ‘ICO’ means interim care order;
(4) ‘IRH’ means the Issues Resolution Hearing;
(5) ‘LA’ means the Local Authority which is applying for a care or supervision order or a final order in other Part 4 proceedings;
(6) ‘OS’ means the Official Solicitor.
In applying the provisions of FPR Part 12 and the Public Law Outline the court and the parties must also have regard to –
(1) all other relevant rules and Practice Directions and in particular –
- FPR Part 1 (Overriding Objective);
- FPR Part 2 and Practice Direction 2C (relating to justices’ legal adviser functions);
- FPR Part 4 ( General Case Management Powers);
- FPR Part 15 (Representation of Protected Parties) and Practice Direction 15B (Adults Who May Be Protected Parties and Children Who May Become Protected Parties in Family Proceedings);
- FPR Part 18 (Procedure for Other Applications in Proceedings);
- FPR Part 22 (Evidence);
- FPR Part 24 (Witnesses and depositions generally);
- FPR Part 25 (Experts) and the Experts Practice Directions;
- FPR 27.6 and Practice Direction 27A (Court Bundles);
- FPR 30 (Appeals) and Practice Direction 30A (Appeals);
(2) the Allocation Rules;
(4) President's Guidance issued from time to time on –
- Distribution of business of the family court;
- Judicial continuity and deployment;
- Prescribed templates and orders;
(6) Guidance relating to protected parties and others with a disability –
- Protected Parties in Family Proceedings: Checklist For the Appointment of a Litigation Friend (including the Official Solicitor) (published in Family Law (January 2014);
- The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (Transfer of Proceedings) Order 2007 SI 2007/1899, relating to young people over 16 where they are likely to lack decision-making capacity at age 18.
|Annex Documents are the documents specified in the Annex to the Application Form which are to be attached to that form and filed with the court:
Checklist documents (already existing on the LA's files) are –
a. Evidential documents including –
b. Decision-making records including –
|Only Checklist documents in (a) are to be served with the application form|
|Checklist Documents in (b) are to be disclosed on request by any party|
Checklist documents are not to be –
Evidence in support of directions sought –
Evidence in support of any directions sought by Day 2 should be filed with the court and served with the application form.
|Stage 1 Issue and Allocation|
|Day 1 and Day 2 (see interpretation section)|
On Day 1 (Day of issue):
|Stage 2 – Case Management Hearing|
|Advocates' Meeting (including any litigants in person)||Case Management Hearing|
|No later than 2 business days before CMH (or FCMH if it is necessary)||CMH : Not before day 12 and not later than day 18 A FCMH is to be held only if necessary, it is to be listed as soon as possible and in any event no later than day 25|
|Stage 3 – Issues Resolution Hearing|
|Advocates' Meeting (including any litigants in person)||IRH|
|No later than 7 business days before the IRH||As directed by the court, in accordance with the timetable for the proceedings|
Attention is drawn to the flexible powers of the court either following the issue of the application or at any other stage in the proceedings.
The court may give directions without a hearing including setting a date for the Final Hearing or a period within which the Final Hearing will take place. The steps, which the court will ordinarily take at the various stages of the proceedings provided for in the Public Law Outline, may be taken by the court at another stage in the proceedings if the circumstances of the case merit this approach.
The flexible powers of the court include the ability for the court to cancel or repeat a particular hearing. For example, if the issue on which the case turns can with reasonable practicability be crystallised and resolved by taking evidence at an IRH then such a flexible approach must be taken in accordance with the overriding objective and to secure compliance with section 1(2) of the 1989 Act and resolving the proceedings within 26 weeks or the period for the time being specified by the court.
Where a party has requested an urgent hearing a) to enable the court to give immediate directions or orders to facilitate any case management issue which is to be considered at the CMH, or b) to decide whether an ICO is necessary, the court may list such a hearing at any appropriate time before the CMH and give directions for that hearing. It is anticipated that an urgent preliminary case management hearing will only be necessary to consider issues such as jurisdiction, parentage, party status, capacity to litigate, disclosure and whether there is, or should be, a request to a Central Authority or other competent authority in a foreign state or consular authority in England and Wales in an international case. It is not intended that any urgent hearing will delay the CMH.
Where it is anticipated that oral evidence may be required at the CMH, FCMH or IRH, the court must be notified in accordance with Stages 2 and 3 of the Public Law Outline well in advance and directions sought for the conduct of the hearing.
It is expected that full case management will take place at the CMH. It follows that the parties must be prepared to deal with all relevant case management issues, as identified in Stage 2 of the Public Law Outline. A FCMH should only be directed where necessary and must not be regarded as a routine step in proceedings.
It is recognised that in a small minority of cases the circumstances are such that the safety and welfare of the child may be jeopardised if the start of proceedings is delayed until all of the documents appropriate to the case and referred to in the Pre-proceedings Checklist are available. The safety and welfare of the child should never be put in jeopardy by delaying issuing proceedings whether because of lack of documentation or otherwise. (Nothing in this Practice Direction affects an application for an emergency protection order under section 44 of the 1989 Act). Also, where an application for an interim order is urgent, then the hearing of that application is NOT expected to be postponed until the Case Management Hearing. The Case Management Hearing is still to be held not before day 12 and not later than day 18 in accordance with the Public Law Outline and guidance in this Practice Direction. If an urgent preliminary Case Management Hearing or an urgent contested ICO hearing is held before the CMH, the court should not dispense with the CMH unless all of the parties have been sufficiently prepared and the court has been able to deal with all case management issues which would have come before it at the CMH.
The court recognises that the preparation may need to be varied to suit the circumstances of the case. In cases where any of the Annex Documents required to be attached to the Application Form are not available at the time of issue of the application, the court will consider making directions on issue about when any missing documentation is to be filed. The expectation is that there must be a good reason why one or more of the documents are not available. Further directions relating to any missing documentation will also be made at the Case Management Hearing.
Directions may be sought in the initial application for an exception to notification requirements under paragraph 3.1 of Practice Direction 12C or rule 12.4, or for party status under rule 12.3, and evidence in support should as far as possible be included with the application (which would be made separately under Part 18). Before deciding whether to seek such an exception or not, the Local Authority should discuss the issue with the other parties to the proceedings, before proceedings are issued.
The court considers the allocation of proceedings in accordance with the Allocation Rules and any Guidance issued by the President on distribution of business of the family court. The justices’ legal adviser (with responsibility for gatekeeping and allocation of proceedings) and/or a district judge (with responsibility for allocation and gatekeeping of proceedings) will consider initial allocation as provided for in any Guidance issued by the President on distribution of business of the family court.
5.1 The timetable for the proceedings –
(1) The court will draw up a timetable for the proceedings with a view to disposing of the application –
(a) without delay; and
(b) in any event within 26 weeks beginning with the day on which the application was issued in accordance with section 32(1)(a)(ii) of the Children Act 1989.
(2) The court, when drawing up or revising a timetable under paragraph (1), will in particular have regard to –
(a) the impact which the timetable or any revised timetable would have on the welfare of the child to whom the application relates; and
(b) the impact which the timetable or any revised timetable would have on the duration and conduct of the proceedings.
The impact which the timetable for the proceedings, any revision or extension of that timetable would have on the welfare of the child to whom the application relates are matters to which the court is to have particular regard. The court will use the Timetable for the Child to assess the impact of these matters on the welfare of the child and to draw up and revise the timetable for the proceedings.
The ‘Timetable for the Child is the timetable set by the court which takes into account dates which are important to the child's welfare and development.
The timetable for the proceedings is set having particular regard to the Timetable for the Child and the Timetable for the Child needs to be reviewed regularly. Where adjustments are made to the Timetable for the Child, the timetable for the proceedings will have to be reviewed consistently with resolving the proceedings within 26 weeks or the period for the time being specified by the court.
Examples of the dates the court will record and take into account when setting the Timetable for the Child are the dates of –
(1) any formal review by the Local Authority of the case of a looked after child (within the meaning of section 22(1) of the 1989 Act);
(2) any significant educational steps, including the child taking up a place at a new school and, where applicable, any review by the Local Authority of a statement of the child's special educational needs;
(3) any health care steps, including assessment by a paediatrician or other specialist;
(4) any review of Local Authority plans for the child, including any plans for permanence through adoption, Special Guardianship or placement with parents or relatives;
(5) any change or proposed change of the child's placement;
(6) any significant change in the child's social or family circumstances; or
(7) any timetable for the determination of an issue in a case with an international element.
To identify the Timetable for the Child, the applicant is required to provide the information needed about the significant steps in the child's life in the Application Form and the Social Work Statement and to update this information regularly taking into account information received from others involved in the child's life such as the parties, members of the child's family, the person who is caring for the child, the children's guardian, the Independent Reviewing Officer , the child's key social worker and any Central Authority or competent authority in a foreign state or a consular authority in England and Wales in a case with an international element.
Where more than one child is the subject of the proceedings, the court should consider and will set a Timetable for the Child for each child. The children may not all have the same timetable, and the court will consider the appropriate progress of the proceedings in relation to each child.
Where there are parallel care proceedings and criminal proceedings against a person connected with the child for a serious offence against the child, linked directions hearings should where practicable take place as the case progresses. The timing of the proceedings in a linked care and criminal case should appear in the Timetable for the Child. The time limit of resolving the proceedings within 26 weeks applies unless a longer timetable has been set by the court in order to resolve the proceedings justly in accordance with section 32(1)(a)(ii) and (5) of the 1989 Act. Early disclosure and listing of hearings is necessary in proceedings in a linked care and criminal case.
The court is required to draw up a timetable for proceedings with a view to disposing of the application without delay and in any event within 26 weeks. If proceedings can be resolved earlier, then they should be. A standard timetable and process is expected to be followed in respect of the giving of standard directions on issue and allocation and other matters which should be carried out by the court on issue, including setting and giving directions for the Case Management Hearing.
Having regard to the circumstances of the particular case, the court may consider that it is necessary to extend the time by which the proceedings are to be resolved beyond 26 weeks to enable the court to resolve the proceedings justly ( see section 32 (5) of the 1989 Act). When making this decision, the court is to take account of the guidance that extensions are not to be granted routinely and are to be seen as requiring specific justification (see section 32(7) of the 1989 Act). The decision and reason(s) for extending a case should be recorded in writing (in the Case Management Order) and orally stated in court, so that all parties are aware of the reasons for delay in the case (see FPR 12.26C). The Case Management Order must contain a record of this information, as well as the impact of the court's decision on the welfare of the child.
The court may extend the period within which proceedings are intended to be resolved on its own initiative or on application. Applications for an extension should, wherever possible, only be made so that they are considered at any hearing for which a date has been fixed or for which a date is about to be fixed. Where a date for a hearing has been fixed, a party who wishes to make an application at that hearing but does not have sufficient time to file an application notice should as soon as possible inform the court (if possible in writing) and, if possible, the other parties of the nature of the application and the reason for it. The party should then make the application orally at the hearing.
If the court agrees an extension is necessary, an initial extension to the time limit may be granted for up to eight weeks (or less if directed) in order to resolve the case justly (see section 32(8) of the 1989 Act). If more time is necessary, in order to resolve the proceedings justly, a further extension of up to eight weeks may be agreed by the court. There is no limit on the number of extensions that may be granted in a particular case.
If the court considers that the timetable for the proceedings will require an extension beyond the next eight week period in order to resolve the proceedings justly, the Case Management Order should –
(1) state the reason(s) why it is necessary to have a further extension;
(2) fix the date of the next effective hearing (which might be in a period shorter than a further eight weeks); and
(3) indicate whether it is appropriate for the next application for an extension of the timetable to be considered on paper.
The expectation is that, subject to paragraph 6.5, extensions should be considered at a hearing and that a court will not approve proposals for the management of a case under FPR 12.15 where the consequence of those proposals is that the case is unlikely to be resolved within 26 weeks or other period for the time being allowed for resolution of the proceedings. In accordance with FPR 4.1(3)(e), the court may hold a hearing and receive evidence by telephone or by using any other method of direct oral communication. When deciding whether to extend the timetable, the court must have regard to the impact of any ensuing timetable revision on the welfare of the child ( see section 32(6) of the 1989 Act).
‘Allocation Rules’ mean any rules relating to composition of the court and distribution of business made under section 31D of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984;
‘Care Plan’ is a separate document from the evidence that is filed by the local authority. It is a ‘section 31A plan’ referred to in section 31A of the 1989 Act which complies with guidance as to content issued by the Secretary of State;
‘Case Analysis’ means a written or, if there is insufficient time for a written, an oral outline of the case from the perspective of the child's best interests prepared by the children's guardian or Welsh family proceedings officer for the CMH or FCMH (where one is necessary) and IRH or as otherwise directed by the court, incorporating an analysis of the key issues that need to be resolved in the case including –
(a) a threshold analysis;
(b) a case management analysis, including an analysis of the timetable for the proceedings, an analysis of the Timetable for the Child and the evidence which any party proposes is necessary to resolve the issues;
(c) a parenting capability analysis;
(d) a child impact analysis, including an analysis of the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child and the impact on the welfare of the child of any application to adjourn a hearing or extend the timetable for the proceedings;
(e) an early permanence analysis including an analysis of the proposed placements and contact framework; by reference to a welfare and proportionality analysis.
(f) whether and if so what communication it is proposed there should be during the proceedings with the child by the court;
‘Case Management Order’ is the prescribed form of order referred to in any Guidance issued by the President from time to time on prescribed templates and orders;
‘Day’ means ‘business day’. ‘Day 1’ is the day of issue and ‘Day 2’ is the next business day following the day of issue of proceedings. ‘Day 12’, ‘Day 18’ and ‘Day 25’ are respectively the 11th, 17th and the 24th business days after the day of issue of proceedings (Day 1). ‘26 weeks’ means 26 calendar weeks beginning on the day of issue of proceedings (Day 1);
‘Experts Practice Directions’ mean –
(a) Practice Direction 25A (Experts - Emergencies and Pre Proceedings Instructions);
(b) Practice Direction 25B (The Duties of An Expert, The Expert's Report and Arrangements For An Expert To Attend Court);
(c) Practice Direction 25C (Children's Proceedings - The Use Of Single Joint Experts and The Process Leading to An Expert Being Instructed or Expert Evidence Being Put Before the Court);
(d) Practice Direction 25E (Discussions Between Experts in Family Proceedings);
‘Genogram’ means a family tree, setting out in diagrammatic form the child's family and extended family members and their relationship with the child;
‘Index of Checklist Documents’ means a list of Checklist Documents referred to in the Public Law Outline Pre-Proceedings Checklist which is divided into two parts with Part A being the documents referred to in column 2, paragraph (a) of the Pre- Proceedings Checklist and Part B being those referred to in column 2, paragraph (b) of the Pre-proceedings Checklist;
‘The 1996 Hague Convention’ means the Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children;
‘Letter Before Proceedings’ means any letter from the Local Authority containing written notification to the parents and others with parental responsibility for the child of the Local Authority's likely intention to apply to court for a care or supervision order and any related subsequent correspondence confirming the Local Authority's position;
"Local Authority Case Summary" means a document prepared by the Local Authority legal representative for each case management hearing in the form referred to in any Guidance issued by the President from time to time on prescribed templates and orders;
‘Parents' Response’ means a document from either or both of the parents containing –
(a) in no more than two pages, the parents' response to the Threshold Statement, and
(b) the parents' placement proposals including the identity and whereabouts of all relatives and friends they propose be considered by the court;
(c) Information which may be relevant to a person's capacity to litigate including information about any referrals to mental health services and adult services;
‘Section 7 report’ means any report under section 7 of the 1989 Act;
‘Section 37 report’ means any report by the Local Authority to the court as a result of a direction under section 37 of the 1989 Act;
‘Social Work Chronology’ means a schedule containing –
(a) a succinct summary of the length of involvement of the local authority with the family and in particular with the child;
(b) a succinct summary of the significant dates and events in the child's life in chronological order- i.e. a running record up to the issue of the proceedings; providing such information under the following headings-
(i) serial number;
(iv) witness or document reference (where applicable);
‘Social Work Statement’ means a statement prepared by the Local Authority limited to the following evidence –
(a) The order sought;
(b) Succinct summary of reasons with reference as appropriate to the Welfare Checklist;
(c) Family members and relationships especially the primary carers and significant adults/other children;
(e) Precipitating events;
(f) Background circumstances –
(i) summary of children's services involvement cross-referenced to the chronology;
(ii) previous court orders and emergency steps;
(iii) previous assessments;
(g) Summary of significant harm and or likelihood of significant harm which the LA will seek to establish by evidence or concession;
(h) Assessment of child's needs;
(i) Assessment of parental capability to meet needs;
(j) Analysis of why there is a gap between parental capability and the child's needs;
(k) Assessment of other significant adults who may be carers;
(l) Wishes and feelings of the child(ren);
(m) Timetable for the Child;
(n) Delay and timetable for the proceedings;
Permanence and contact
(o) Parallel planning;
(p) Realistic placement options by reference to a welfare and proportionality analysis;
(q) Contact framework;
(r) Evidence and assessments necessary and outstanding;
(s) Any information about any person's litigation capacity, mental health issues, disabilities or vulnerabilities that is relevant to their capability to participate in the proceedings; and
(t) Case management proposals.
‘Standard Directions on Issue and Allocation’ means directions given by the court on issue and upon allocation in the prescribed form referred to in any Guidance issued by the President from time to time on prescribed templates and orders;
‘Threshold Statement’ means a written outline by the legal representative of the LA in the application form of the facts which the LA will seek to establish by evidence or concession to satisfy the threshold criteria under s31(2) of the 1989 Act limited to no more than 2 pages;
‘Welfare Checklist’ means the list of matters which is set out in section 1(3) of the 1989 Act and to which the court is to have particular regard in accordance with section (1)(3) and (4).