Message from the President of the Family Division: publication of the President’s Public Law Working Group report

President of the Family DivisionSir Andrew McFarlaneReports

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The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has welcomed and endorsed the publication of the President’s Public Law Working Group (PLWG) report.

He said: “The report and its recommendations are the fruits of intense and extensive collaborative work by professionals from all of the sectors working on child protection cases in the Family Justice system. Whilst the group has been brought together and led by the judiciary, this has genuinely been a joint endeavour by all of the many PLWG members and others who have been involved. I am most grateful to each and every one of them.

“The PLWG was formed, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, to investigate the steep rise in public law cases coming to the Family Court and to offer recommendations for improving the system’s ability to address the needs of the children and families at the centre of these important cases. The additional pressures on the Child Protection and Family Justice systems arising from COVID have only gone to underline the need for the new ways of working that the PLWG’s recommendations describe.

“It has been a striking feature of this work that the development of the group’s ideas and recommendations has been organic and has proceeded at each turn on the basis of agreement across the board, rather than controversy. That this is so, strongly suggests that the recommendations made are both sound and necessary. It gives ground for real optimism that the messages in this report will be welcomed by social workers, lawyers, judges, magistrates and court staff across England and Wales and that, after a short implementation period, they can be put into effect and begin to make a real difference on the ground. That is my earnest hope and confident expectation.”

The March 2021 report, including a Word version of a number of its appendices for the use of practitioners and other interested parties, as well as four supplemental reports, can be read below