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Ministry of Justice supports reforms to improve private family law proceedings

Posted on 9 February 2024

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has unveiled a series of planned reforms aimed at improving the resolution of private family law cases following a Government consultation process that was initiated last year.

In doing so, the MOJ has adopted series of recommendations from JUSTICE, a law reform and human rights charity that Mishcon de Reya has provided financial and pro bono support to.

In 2022, JUSTICE, convened a Working Party to consider ways to enhance access to justice for separating families in private family law proceedings.

The recommendations adopted include:

  • Piloting early legal advice for families with child arrangements problems.
  • Developing a new online information tool for families, in line with our arguments on the need for a clear, trusted information source.
  • National roll out of ‘pathfinder courts’ which take an investigative, not adversarial, approach, including speaking to children earlier and more often.
  • Improving how risks like domestic abuse are identified, in line with our recommendation for universal and systematic 'risk screening' to better spot when families need in-depth risk assessments and bolster holistic support for those who need it.
  • More support for child-inclusive mediation.

Antonia Felix, a Partner in the Family team at Mishcon de Reya, was part of the Working Party. She was supported by a team of Associates from the firm.

Ellen Lefley, of JUSTICE, commented: "The current private family justice system isn't working for parents or children. We welcome the MOJ's reform plans, a number of which reflect the recommendations of the JUSTICE Working Party. We look forward to working with the MOJ to implement these changes, to ensure they are designed around the families who need them."

Antonia Felix, Mishcon de Reya, commented: "We were thrilled to see the MOJ's announcement after all of the hard work from JUSTICE and the working party. We were so pleased we were able to be part of this excellent project and we look forward to witnessing the positive changes these reforms will bring."

For more information on the reforms and their implementation, please visit the gov.uk website.

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