Family Courts Unions Parliamentary Group Update


The Simpson Millar LLP Family Law Team is at the cutting edge of family law policy as a key member of an All Party Parliamentary Group on the Family Courts and Court of Protection known as the Family Courts Unions Parliamentary Group (or FCUPG).

Family Law

The group’s key concerns since 2012 have been:-
  • Family Court closures
  • Cuts to Legal Aid
  • CAFCASS – workload disputes and resourcing
  • Delays within the family justice system
  • Implementation of the Norgrove Report’s recommendation for reform of the family justice system – now the Children and Families Bill
The FCUPG is co-chaired by Elfyn Llwyd, MP, and Baroness Gibson. The group prepares briefing papers for parliamentarians on these key issues and invites Ministers and Shadow Ministers to its meetings in order that these matters can be explored face-to-face. Often, discussions within the group result in Parliamentary Questions being tabled and Early Day Motions.

What happened at the latest meeting?

The latest meeting took place on 27th February 2013. Emma Hopkins of Simpson Millar LLP's Family Law Team attended the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Children and Families Bill, and the meeting was attended by Shadow Education and Children’s Minister, Lisa Nandy, MP.

During the course of the meeting, it was decided to focus on 5 particular concerns in respect of the Bill, and that the group would prepare draft amendments to 5 provisions in the Bill with explanatory notes that Lisa Nandy, MP, now tabled during the committee stages of the Bill in the Commons.

The proposed amendments focus on the following 5 key areas of concern:-
  • The lack of regulation and accreditation of mediators who are to be the “gateway” to the family justice system.
  • The introduction to Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 of a presumption of parental involvement and the lack of definition of what “involvement” means.
  • The impact of a change in terminology from Residence and Contact Orders to Child Arrangements Order in private Children Act proceedings on the interpretation of Orders made in England and Wales abroad in cases of child abduction.
  • The intended statutory 26 week time limit for completion of care cases.
  • The limiting of the role of the Court in scrutinising Care Plans.

Watch this space as to how successful the group and Simpson Millar is in securing adoption of those amendments and have your say on the Children and Families Bill by following the links:

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