Proposed changes to Family Procedure Rules Part 25 - a consultation
The Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation by the Family Procedure Rule Committee on changes to Part 25 of the Family Procedure Rules
The Family Procedure Rule Committee is proposing changes to the text of the Family Procedure Rules Part 25, including splitting the existing monolithic Practice Direction 25A into a collection of six practice directions. The amendments have been developed following recommendations made by the Family Justice Review in its final report published in November 2011 (available from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) website at www.justice.gov.uk/about/moj/independent-reviews/family-justice-review). These amendments would affect private law financial remedy proceedings and all other family proceedings that are not related to children where the use of expert witness evidence would not have an impact on children, who were the primary focus of the Family Justice Review panel’s recommendations.
The proposed amendments to the rules are:
Rule 1.4. Court’s duty to manage cases
FPR 1.4(2) has been expanded so that active case management in all family proceedings includes controlling the use of expert evidence.
Rule 25.1. Duty to restrict expert evidence
The word ‘necessary’ is substituted for ‘reasonably required’ in FPR 25.1 and will mean that expert evidence has to be that which the court considers is necessary to assist the court to resolve the proceedings. This reflects a Family Justice Review recommendation, but would apply to all family proceedings.
Rule 25.5. Further provisions about the court’s power to restrict expert evidence
New Rule 25.5(3) sets out factors that the court will have particular regard to when determining whether to give permission for expert evidence to be used in proceedings other than those relating to children. The court will need to consider how the evidence would relate to the issues in the proceedings that need to be resolved, the questions the court would require the expert to answer, the impact on progression of the case and the cost of obtaining that evidence. The court will also need to take into account any failure to comply with any direction made by the court in relation to expert evidence, or any failure to comply with Rule 25.6.
Rule 25.6 requires parties to apply for permission to instruct an expert or put expert evidence before the court no later than the specified hearing for the listed proceedings, and as soon as possible in other proceedings, unless the court directs otherwise
The questions the MoJ would like you to address are:
- Do you agree that active case management should explicitly include controlling expert evidence in family proceedings other than those relating to children? If you do not agree, please give reasons.
- Do you agree that the criterion that expert evidence must be ‘necessary’ rather than ‘reasonably required’ should apply to family proceedings other than those relating to children? If you do not agree, please give reasons.
- Do you agree that the court should explicitly consider the factors set out in new draft Rule 25.5(3) when determining whether to give permission for expert evidence to be used in family proceedings other than those relating to children? If you do not agree, please give reasons.
- Do you have any other comments on the proposed amendments?
Please send your comments to Joanne Willows at the address below by 5 pm on Thursday 20 September 2012.
Family Justice Policy
Access to Justice Directorate
102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ
Tel: 020 3334 4290
You can access the following consultation documentation below: