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Judith Masson, Professor of Socio-legal Studies, Bristol University.
The question in the title must be on the minds of all those involved in the development of the new approach to care proceedings, launched on 1 April 2008. This article looks for some answers by critically examining the new approach set out in the new guidance for local authorities in the light of the findings of the recent Care Profiling Study (Ministry of Justice, 2008) by J Masson et al. A second article to be published in a future issue of Family Law considers the changes in court practice introduced in the Public Law Outline (PLO). This research was commissioned by the (then) Department of Constitutional Affairs and the Department for Education and Skills to provide 'background data' against which future reforms could be measured: however, its findings allow a deeper understanding of the reasons why the earlier attempt to reduce the time taken to complete care cases, the Protocol for Judicial Case Management in Public Law Cases  2 FLR 719, failed and an assessment of the potential of the PLO to solve what has come to be known as 'the problem of delay'.
For the full article, see October  Family Law journal.
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