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The Hon Mr Justice Cobb
This paper outlines the ongoing work of the Private Law Working Group (PLWG) - commissioned in July 2013 by the President of the Family Division to formulate recommendations on reform of private family law. The paper reviews some of the principal consequences of the implementation of LASPO 2012, as assessed by the PLWG: large numbers of LiPs in the family court, the range of issues facing families in breakdown, the high number of applications since April 2013, and the diminishing availability of mediation services. The paper describes features of the Child Arrangements Programme designed, in this climate, to promote swift, safe and durable outcomes for children, ideally through dispute resolution services, and to moderate the challenges facing those who seek effective access to justice through the courts. It emphasises the need for proper support of the scheme if it is to operate effectively in the interests of children. The paper concludes with a plea for an urgent review of: (a) the operation of the exceptional funding regime (s 10 of the LASPO 2012); and (b) the current difficulties facing courts where ‘necessary' (FPR 2010, r 25) expert reports cannot be obtained in private law cases involving LiPs with insufficient resources privately to fund these.
The full version of this article appears in the May Special Issue of Family Law.
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