Session 2010-11
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General Committee Debates
Delegated Legislation Committee Debates

Draft Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2011
Draft Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2011

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Jim Dobbin 

Baron, Mr John (Basildon and Billericay) (Con) 

Crockart, Mike (Edinburgh West) (LD) 

Dakin, Nic (Scunthorpe) (Lab) 

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice)  

Donaldson, Mr Jeffrey M. (Lagan Valley) (DUP) 

Flello, Robert (Stoke-on-Trent South) (Lab) 

Harris, Rebecca (Castle Point) (Con) 

Huppert, Dr Julian (Cambridge) (LD) 

Kaufman, Sir Gerald (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab) 

Macleod, Mary (Brentford and Isleworth) (Con) 

Poulter, Dr Daniel (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) (Con) 

Reynolds, Jonathan (Stalybridge and Hyde) (Lab/Co-op) 

Stephenson, Andrew (Pendle) (Con) 

Stuart, Ms Gisela (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab) 

Vickers, Martin (Cleethorpes) (Con) 

Watkinson, Angela (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)  

Watts, Mr Dave (St Helens North) (Lab) 

Wood, Mike (Batley and Spen) (Lab) 

Simon Patrick, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

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Second Delegated Legislation Committee 

Tuesday 22 March 2011  

[Jim dobbin in the Chair] 

Draft Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2011 

The Chair:  Before I call the Minister, may I suggest to members that the debate relates to the proposed arrangements, and the merits of the rules are not for debate. 

10.30 am 

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Jonathan Djanogly):  I beg to move, 

That the Committee has considered the draft Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order 2011. 

The Chair:  With this it will be convenient to consider the draft Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2011. 

Mr Djanogly:  Good morning, Mr. Dobbin. 

The statutory instruments are necessary to support the implementation of the Family Procedure Rules 2010, which will come into force on 6 April. The rules were made as provided for in the Courts Act 2003. That Act gives power for new rules to be made for all family proceedings, with a view to securing a family justice system that is accessible, fair and efficient and that the rules are both simple and simply expressed. With these requirements in mind, the family procedure rule committee—the body established to make the rules—and the Ministry of Justice have developed a set of rules to cover all family proceedings in the High Court, the county courts and the family proceedings courts. The new rules will bring a number of benefits, including modernisation of some language, a single unified code of practice for all family courts and, where appropriate, harmonisation of the procedure in family proceedings with the provisions of the civil procedure rules. 

Family procedure rules dealing with adoption proceedings were introduced in 2005 and, from 6 April this year, the family procedure rules 2010 will extend the new approach to all family proceedings. 

The two statutory instruments we are discussing today are important to ensure that the new rules can come fully into force on the appointed day and that other enactments will refer appropriately to those rules from that date. I hope that the Committee will support their approval. I will take each instrument in turn. 

The Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order makes amendments to Acts of Parliament and to secondary legislation in consequence of the coming into force of the Family Procedure Rules 2010. For example, article 12 of the order amends the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 to give power to the magistrates courts to order disclosure of documents in family proceedings.

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This will align the powers of the magistrates courts in this area with those of the High Court and county courts, and means that the provisions in the Family Procedure Rules 2010 relating to disclosure of documents can apply to all courts dealing with family proceedings. 

The order also amends various enactments which currently refer to rules which are to be superseded by the Family Procedure Rules 2010. This means that from 6 April 2011, those enactments will refer to the 2010 rules, or to specific provisions within them. 

The draft Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) Order makes various minor amendments to the routes of appeal. It replaces some provisions in existing rules which would otherwise be lost as those rules are replaced, and consolidates them with provisions from an existing destination of appeals order so that the routes of appeal in family proceedings are dealt with in one place. It provides that appeals from decisions made by a district judge of a county court will lie to a judge of that court, and that appeals from decisions made by a district judge of the High Court, a district judge of the principal registry of the family division or a costs judge will lie to a judge of the High Court. 

The two statutory instruments are important to make it possible for the new family procedure rules to be brought fully into force, and to ensure that other legislation is properly amended in consequence of the coming into force of those rules. I therefore commend these two draft orders to the Committee. 

10.34 am 

Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South) (Lab):  I welcome you to the Chair this morning, Mr. Dobbin. 

These are two important statutory instruments. The official Opposition could hardly object to them, as they relate to measures that we introduced as the Labour Government. They are a means of consolidating and simplifying the rules under the Family Procedure Rules 2010. I shall put a couple of questions to the Minister in a moment, but it is important to note that the two orders are very much of a technical nature and put in place the final pieces of the family procedure rules, which come into effect in only a few weeks. I noticed earlier an official with a heavy and well-thumbed copy of the 2010 rules, which I am sure that practitioners up and down the country are studying carefully. They will be keen to see that these orders get on to the statute book, so that they know the precise lay-out. 

I turn to the first of my two questions to the Minister. As I have said, it is only a few weeks until the Family Procedure Rules 2010 come into effect. Is he confident that, if these instruments are approved this morning, all the pieces are now in place for 6 April? Are all the necessary statutory instruments, changes and consolidations now in place to ensure that the rules can be used properly, and that practitioners will not have to be concerned about gaps in the legislation? Of course, the whole point of the rules and how they have been put together is to allow a much easier and more efficient means of updating and improving them in the years ahead. 

My second question relates to feedback from practitioners about the impact. The Minister has helpfully stated that he does think there will be an impact on businesses,

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charities and voluntary bodies involved in family proceedings. Has he had any further feedback about the measures before us, or, more generally, about the Family Procedure Rules 2010? Are all the processes and forms in place to make sure that the rules can be delivered, and that the impact will not be too great but can be managed so that practitioners can ensure that the courts provide—and, more important, that the families, the users of those courts, have—a proper, streamlined and more efficient service, but without imposing great cost on businesses, charities and voluntary bodies? 

I have nothing further to add. We have no objections to these statutory instruments this morning, but I would welcome the Minister’s comments. 

10.37 am 

Mr Djanogly:  I can confirm that we have put in place all necessary provisions to ensure that family proceedings will be dealt with under the new family procedure rules. I can report back to the hon. Gentleman that the rules

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have generally, if not universally, been welcomed by the professions and by those involved in family law, and that, generally speaking, there has been no adverse reaction to these proposals. 

The two statutory instruments are necessary for the new rules to come into force and to ensure that other legislation is properly amended. I ask the Committee to support them, so that the full benefits of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 can now be realised. 

Question put and agreed to.  



That the Committee has considered the draft Family Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 2011.—(Mr Djanogly.)  

10.39 am 

Committee rose.