This week, Jordans reported that The Family Procedure Rule Committee published a consultation paper on children and vulnerable witnesses. The consultation is set to run from 3rd August 2015 to 25th September 2015.

You can access the consultation here, which can be filled out by anyone who would like to complete it.

The consultation seeks to find out the extent to which children’s rights in practice are represented in relation to being able to take part in court proceedings. It also aims to analyse the clarity of the current guidelines on children and their involvement and whether or not the conditions surrounding child participation are appropriate.

Interestingly, the consultation also points out that no mention of children is made in the Overriding Objective of the Family Procedure Rules, which is designed to ensure that cases are dealt with fairly and justly. The Overriding Objective reads as follows:

As far as is practically possible –

  1. Ensuring that a case is dealt with expeditiously and fairly;
  2. Dealing with the case in ways which are proportionate to the nature importance and complexity of the issues;
  3. Ensuring that the parties are on an equal footing;
  4. Saving expense; and
  5. Allotting to it an appropriate share of the court’s resources, while taking into account the need to allot resources to other cases.

The consultation therefore also seeks to examine whether children should be mentioned in the Objective in relation to their involvement in proceedings with a view to emphasising the need for the court to have consideration to children in this respect.

Further questions relate to the process, judges and what measures should be made available with regard to children in court proceedings. It’s a very interesting consultation and one worth reading.