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Measures to reduce family court delays

The Government has announced the introduction of new measures aimed at reducing delays in family court proceedings.

These changes are the latest steps in the Government's commitment to ensuring family cases are dealt with within 26 weeks, following a recommendation by the Family Justice Review conducted by David Norgrove.

The new measures will require family courts to:

  • Restrict expert evidence to that which is only necessary to resolve the case;
  • Take account of specified factors before agreeing to expert witnesses reports. Currently, no factors are specified.
  • To approve the questions that are to be put to the expert to ensure they are focused on the determinative issues for the court.

Family Justice Minister Lord McNally said:

'The number of expert reports being commissioned at the moment is far beyond what is actually needed to make a considered decision - and is causing delays which can ultimately harm children.

'The new rules mean expert evidence will only be used where necessary and reports will be commissioned more sensibly and sparingly.'

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