1. Between September 2004 and March 2005, the Constitutional
Affairs Select Committee in the last Parliament conducted a comprehensive
inquiry into the workings of the family justice system, focusing
on issues relating to child contact and produced a report entitled
Family Justice: the operation of the family courts.
Particular concerns included the delays inherent in the family
court system, the lack of transparency of the family courts and
the need to move people away from the adversarial court system
and into mediation or educational programmes to resolve their
2. The Government responded to the Committee's report
in March 2005 and legislation relating to the enforcement of child
contact (The Children and Adoption Bill) was introduced into the
House of Commons in November 2005.
3. We decided to take evidence on some of the recent
developments in areas which had been examined by the Constitutional
Affairs Committee in the last Parliament from Rt Hon Sir
Mark Potter, the President of the Family Division. An oral evidence
session was held on 2 May 2006, and Sir Mark was accompanied by
Hon Mr Justice Munby, District Judge Nicholas Crichton and Audrey
Damazer from the Justices' Clerks Society. Following that evidence
session, the Committee decided to produce a short report to review
the evidence given and consider what progress has been made. Relevant
correspondence between the Committee, the judiciary and the Department
is appended to this report.