If you are a Family or Care practitioner please read the following and forward details to your colleagues.
HHJ Robertshaw has provided the following update and guidance following her DFJ meeting last night:
There are important changes / reinforcement of procedures and other points to note, please, following our meeting this evening.
TEMPLATE ORDER FOR EXISTING PROCEEDINGS
I attach a revised template to reflect the practice which everyone agrees is working well in practice, namely, that the child’s solicitor will now be responsible for arranging the pre hearing discussions. This will ease the burden on the LAs. The change is in red but will not be so, of course, on the actual orders filed.
NOTICES OF HEARINGS IN PUBLIC LAW CASES
It has been agreed that notices of hearings in public law cases will be emailed by the court to the local authorities and will no longer be sent by post . This is in light of LA staff working remotely . LAs will notify the other parties of the hearing immediately upon receipt of the email. PCC, Torbay and Devon will let CLO Exeter and Plymouth Listing have the general email to which all orders/ notices of hearings are to be sent by the court.
The notice of hearing will also specify the judge so that the LA can send to that judge directly by Egress the ebundle . This is with the caveat that there will be occasions when a different judge may hear the case
Due to the manner in which LA staff are working remotely, ebundles are likely to be sent by Egress to the Judge some days in advance of the hearing. These bundles should only contain the documents necessary and relevant for that hearing.
PARTICIPATION OF LAY PARTIES IN TELEPHONE / REMOTE CMH/IRH HEARINGS
The default position is that ALL parties should be attending the hearing by telephone/skype/zoom/team, including the parents. Only if the parents have given full instructions, are available during the hearing by telephone and if the judge approves, should parents not attend. We must ensure protection of transparency, participation and access to justice for all parties, and particularly the parents.
PROVISION OF A ‘CLEAN ROOM’ BY MAGDELAN CHAMBERS
Magdelan Chambers are making a ‘clean room’ available for practitioners/parents to use , I think, to participate in hearings/ meetings. Christian Gape will let everyone have further details very soon/ Well done ! This is extremely encouraging and innovative. I do hope all Family Chambers can join together and make a similar provision. It is vital that we find a way of conducting final/contested hearings remotely. This situation is likely to continue for many many months. If parents had a place to go, with access to the hearing through a laptop and a bundle (paper bundle?) to use as needed, we can , with care, manage final / contested hearings effectively and fairly. A support worker could be present for example?
FINANCIAL REMEDY WORK
Not a matter of discussion. Rather sharing of information. Many thanks to Christian Gape, Carol Mashembo and Phil Thorneycroft for enabling HHJ Mitchell and I to find a way forward resulting in the protocol which HHJ Mitchell has now circulated and which has my approval and support. HHJ Mitchell will keep this under review.
AND FINALLY, PLEASE, THINK TWICE BEFORE COMPLAINT – THE JUDICIARY AND STAFF ARE STRIVING TO WORK WITH YOU.
A HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR YOUR CONSTRUCTIVE, HELPFUL, CO-OPERATIVE AND SUPPORTIVE APPROACH TO THE STAFF AND TO THE JUDICIARY. LONG MAY IT CONTINUE!
Her Honour Judge Miranda Robertshaw
Designated Family Judge for Devon
Nominated Judge of the Court of Protection
If you have any queries please contact Phil Thorneycroft at Wolferstans – firstname.lastname@example.org
President of the Plymouth Law Society