Skip to main content

Public Law

Public Law Outline

The former President of the Family Division, Dame Elizabeth Butler Sloss, set up a Judicial Review Team (JRT) to review the protocol for judicial case management in public law Children Act cases and its associated practice direction.

In December 2005 the JRT published a Thematic Review and in May 2006 the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Constitutional Affairs published a review of the child care proceedings system in England and Wales. Both of these reviews identified areas where the protocol and practice direction required improvement. The FJC responded to the DCA review in September 2006.

In 2007 the JRT published a draft public law outline which was the subject of a consultation, the FJC responded to the consultation in September 2007.

The final version of the Public Law Outline was published in April 2008. FJC commissioned the Family Rights Group (FRG) to undertake a survey regarding child welfare Family Group Conferences that had been undertaken since the PLO was implemented. The survey covered the period 1 April 2008 – 31 December 2008 and the FRG published a summary of the results in November 2009.

Children Act Guidance

At the same time as the PLO was being drafted the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) revised the statutory guidance for local authorities in liaison with the JRT in order to ensure it compliments the PLO. They put the revised guidance out to consultation in June 2007 and the FJC responded in September 2007.

Family Fees

HM Courts Service published a consultation paper in December 2007 outlining proposed changes to the fees for public law Children Act proceedings.

Among other things, HMCS proposed to restructure the fees to reflect the stages in the Public Law Outline. The FJC responded to the consultation in March 2008.

In December 2008 the Ministry of Justice published the next step in the government’s strategy for developing the fees system in the courts. The proposals outlined in a consultation paper included increasing civil and family fees. The FJC responded in relation to Family Court fees in March 2009.

Care Matters

In October 2006 the Department for Education and Skills (DES) published a Green Paper. A consultation was also launched regarding the changes outlined in the Green Paper which included proposals to ‘strengthen the ‘corporate parenting’ role of local authorities; create high quality placements which meet children’s needs; ensure a first class education; a positive life outside school; and support for transition into adulthood’. The FJC responded to the consultation in February 2007.

Following the consultation a White Paper was published in June 2007 which committed to revise the existing guidance ‘Promoting the Health of Looked After Children’ and to make it statutory on health bodies as well as local authorities. In May 2009 the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) published a consultation on the revised guidance which the FJC responded to in August 2009.

The Care Matters White Paper published in June 2007 also pledged to introduce a statutory framework, in line with the Children Act 1989, in order to ensure local authorities are consistent in the support they provide looked after children who live with family and friends. DCSF published the draft guidance and launched a consultation on it in March 2010 and the FJC responded in June 2010.

Baby P Submission

In December 2008 Ofsted published the findings of its review following the death of Baby P in Haringey. The Children in Safeguarding Proceedings Committee of the FJC produced a submission to inform the review.

Linked Care and Placement Orders

In July 2008 the FJC published an updated version of their guidance paper on linked care and placement order proceedings which had originally been published in January 2007. The FJC revisited the guidance following the introduction of the Public Law Outline which placed a greater emphasis on a speedier and more focussed process and placed greater strains on the Local Authority panel process.