Ipswich - 01473 213311
Colchester - 01206 584584
Felixstowe - 01394 834557


Upcoming change to Family Procedure Rules

Upcoming change to Family Procedure Rules

Upcoming change to Family Procedure Rules

The Family Procedure Rules were created in 2010 and set out how any court proceedings in family cases should be conducted. There have been numerous amendments made to these rules since they came into being some 24 years ago, but each amendment has been made in order to bring procedures into line with modern day attitudes in society. The latest amendment” The Family Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2023 (SI 2023/1324)” was laid before Parliament on 7 December 2023 and will come into force partly on 8 April 2024 and partly on 29 April 2024. Its main focus is to strengthen the powers the court has to “stay” (pause) court proceedings in order to give the parties the opportunity to engage in a non-court dispute resolution (NCDR).

Every court case brought under the Family Procedure Rules requires the court to actively manage the case and part of this management is to encourage the parties to use NCDR. Now with the new amendment set to pass, parties to a court case are going to be required to go a step further by filing a statement with the court at the outset of their case to tell the court their views on using NCDR as a means of resolving the issues they have raised in the proceedings. The definition of NCDR is also going to be widened to mean “methods of resolving a dispute other than through the court process, including but not limited to mediation, arbitration, evaluation by a neutral third party (such as a private Financial Dispute Resolution process) and collaborative law”.

When the second round of provisions come into force on 29 April 2024, the court is going to have the power to adjourn proceedings where the timetabling of proceedings allows sufficient time for NCDR to be explored and carried out by the parties and the court will be able to do this without needing both parties’ agreement as is the current state of play. Most importantly, in financial remedies cases, this power to ‘encourage’ will be backed with further amendments to the rules, which will expressly make a failure to engage in NCDR without good reason a cost impact on the parties. Costs orders could be made against one or both parties if NCDR is not properly considered or engaged with.

Time will tell whether the forthcoming amendments to the Family Procedure Rules will herald a change in culture and interest in NCDR. At Kerseys Solicitors our experienced family law solicitors will always encourage the use of NCDR within every matter where it is appropriate. We actively strive to keep matters out of the court system and will explore all avenues of NCDR before any court application is made.

To find out more about the various NCDR options and which could be right for your circumstances, contact our Family Law Solicitors in Ipswich at [email protected] or telephone 01473 213311, Solicitors in Felixstowe at [email protected] on 01394 834557 or Solicitors in Colchester at [email protected] on 01206 584584.

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