Following the commitment to review Standard Family Orders (“SFOs”) made in January 2022, Mr Justice Peel announces the results of this review in the below statement, which highlights the changes made to SFOs, along with guidance as to how such orders should be drafted.
“I make this announcement with the authority of the President (of the Family Division).
On 18 January 2022, Mostyn J, the judge then in charge of Standard Family Orders (“SFOs”), announced a wide ranging review of the SFOs. I continued the review after succeeding him on 26 April 2022. HHJ Hess was appointed to lead the review of the financial remedy SFOs, with the assistance of Amy Kisser and Nicholas Allen KC. HHJ Moradifar was appointed to lead the review of the children SFOs, with the assistance of Steven Howard, Nastassia Hylton, Edward Bennett and Alexander Laing. I am enormously grateful to them all for their immense work in undertaking this exercise.
I am also grateful to Melissa Chapman of Class Legal who carried out a complete overview of formatting and layout. Class Legal produce an online package of the SFOs, which is free to access for any member of the judiciary (full time or part time) with an ejudiciary account; they can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the review process, Mostyn J announced a consultation period. A full list of those who responded is attached at Appendix A. It includes judges, barristers, solicitors and various organisations.
The significant volume of responses, combined with the detailed consideration given to the SFOs by the Standard Orders Group, has led to a number of revisions. In part, they reflect changes in law, practice and procedure. In part, they have been amended to achieve internal consistency and clarity of phraseology. Formatting and stylistic improvements have also been made.
As before, the SFOs do not have the status of “forms” under FPR Part 5. The default position is that they should be used, but parties and the court are permitted to adapt them to such extent as may be appropriate.
Among the main changes to the SFOs are:
The orders contain directions supporting the Statement on the Efficient Conduct of Financial Remedy proceedings in the Financial Remedies Court Below High Court Judge level.
The orders give a greater steer for the commissioning of SJE experts rather than sole experts, and for their reports to be considered by the court without personal attendance at the hearing.
The orders accommodate directions relevant to remote hearings and the guidance on electronic bundles.
The financial orders include additional undertakings such as (i) not applying for decree absolute/final decree until 28 days after the making of a financial order (relevant for the making of a pension sharing order); (ii) removal of Land Registry notices; and (iii) obtaining a Get.
The orders incorporate the provisions of the Divorce and Dissolution Act 2020, incorporating the new terminology for divorces – conditional order and final order in place of decree nisi and decree absolute – although retaining both options for the time being while this change takes effect.
The orders incorporate the provisions of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, including prohibition against cross examination provisions, and the appointment of a Qualified Legal Representative.
The financial orders include draft costs orders updated to reflect changes in practice and guidance on costs.
The financial orders include draft directions and substantive orders on pensions updated to reflect changes in practice and guidance in this area.
The financial orders include a free-standing draft order to accommodate the Accelerated First Appointment procedure.
The orders include a Permission to Appeal directions order.
The orders incorporate the changes to law and practice brought by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
The orders incorporate the new required forms for cases involving committal applications.
The orders incorporate, among other updates, an updated Deprivation of Liberty order, an updated standalone Port Alert order, reference to the “Planning Together for Children Course” instead of the “Separated Parents Information Programme”, and the correct contact details for any disclosure request to NHS England.
The orders incorporate bespoke headings for the Family Court and the Family Division.
The children orders reduce significantly the use of recitals. In general, recitals now appear at the end of children orders, giving greater prominence to the body and substance of the orders.
Warning notices have been updated and made consistent.
In the children orders, there are separate orders for different stages of public law and private law proceedings, all of which have been made more streamlined.
I attach the updated House Rules which reflect the changes made.
I anticipate that a further, albeit much more limited, review of the SFOs will be undertaken during 2024 once the orders are bedded in and users have experience of them in practice. The Standard Orders group is conscious that, although the intention has always been to provide a comprehensive set of orders to which any user can reach, some of the orders are lengthy and can be time consuming for a judge to draft in a case where both parties are unrepresented. This particularly applies to private law children cases and Family Law Act injunctions. A judge with a busy list of such hearings may be required to draft several orders during the court day. The Standard Orders Group is investigating ways in which this task can be made more streamlined and quicker for judges.
Respondents to consultation:
Our Family Wizard
News Media Association
Media Lawyers Association
The Official Solicitor
Association of District Judges
Peterborough City Council
High Court Cafcass
Office of the President of the Family Division
HM Tipstaff Office
Family Justice Council Experts Group
Claire Athis Schofield
International Family Law Group
DJ Peter Hatvany
DDJ Tim Melville-Walker
HHJ Eleanor Owens
DDJ Graham Campbell
HHJ Richard Robinson
DDJ Rachael Oakes
DJ (now CJ) Beth Japheth
HHJ Richard Clarke
DJ Joanna Geddes
DJ Kevin Harper
Are you looking for a challenging and rewarding job in the legal field? Fenners Chambers, a well-established Barristers’ Chambers in Cambridge, is seeking a Diary Clerk. This position will initially be parental leave cover, with a view to hiring a permanent position. As a Diary Clerk, you will play a vital role in the day-to-day running of Chambers by assisting the Senior Clerk and Deputy Senior Clerk, managing a busy Team diary, and performing general housekeeping tasks.
About the role:
Maternity Cover (with a view to a permanent position)
Full Time – 9am – 6pm Monday to Friday
Required for Cambridge Barristers Chambers
Fenners Chambers is looking to recruit a Diary Clerk to join a small friendly administration team. This is a full-time position, working 9am – 6pm, Monday to Friday. The key tasks for this post are:
Assisting with the day-to-day running of Chambers as directed by the Senior Clerk and Deputy Senior Clerk
General housekeeping tasks as directed by Chambers Administrator
Printing Briefs and entering instructions received onto the Chambers system
Preparing rooms for conferences ensuring there are sufficient supplies in each. Greeting clients who are here for conferences or visitors to chambers.
Checking Crown Court and County Court lists on a daily basis
Management of a busy Team diary
This is a busy and demanding role, which requires patience and an ability to multi-task and work autonomously
Full training will be provided, but experience of working in Barristers’ Chambers or other legal environments would be an advantage
The successful applicant will join the administration team based in Cambridge and will have the opportunity to work from home one day a week when fully trained.
The remuneration package is between £22,660 – £29,420 depending on experience, with 20 days holiday entitlement and a contributory pension scheme
Written applications, together with a full CV, should be headed ‘Diary Clerk’ and addressed to: Paul Green – Senior Clerk, Fenners Chambers, 3 Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0EE. Paul.email@example.com
Applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Our friend and colleague, Dan Messenger, died peacefully on the 13th August 2022, following a diagnosis of a terminal illness last year. His diagnosis and death were a huge shock to us all and he is greatly missed in chambers and in the local courts in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and further afield. Dan died much too young. His wife, Laura, was with him when he died, and Dan also left a young son, Francis, who was just a year and a half old. Dan was incredibly proud of Francis and many local practitioners will have seen the photographs of him as a young baby which Dan loved to share.
Dan was a talented musician and studied music at Dartington Arts School before going to the University of Essex, where he studied Law and Politics. He qualified as a barrister and was awarded a Fox Scholarship from Middle Temple, which enabled him to gain experience in a law firm in Toronto. Dan completed pupillage in East Anglia Chambers and then became a tenant at Regency Chambers. He moved to Fenners Chambers in 2014 and practiced there until September 2021 when he became ill.
Dan was a very able and committed family barrister and was well thought of by solicitors, barristers and the judiciary. He was regularly instructed in complex care proceedings, was an active member of the FLBA and also contributed to the training programme organised by the Cambridgeshire Local Family Justice Board. Dan was not only respected, though, he was also popular. Everyone liked working with him. He worked hard and fought for his clients, but he always had time for a quick chat with his colleagues, too, and he was a lot of fun.
As one barrister from another chambers has put it: a nicer opposing counsel you could not possibly wish to meet. Local solicitors have said they will miss Dan’s brilliant sense of humour. In chambers he was supportive of his colleagues and always ready to share his experiences and knowledge with more junior members of the team. Several of his colleagues also became close friends.
Dan was so full of life, so enthusiastic about everything he was involved in. His interests were wide ranging. Food, films, travel, to mention just a few of them, and he loved to share his enthusiasms, swapping recommendations for films, books and restaurants. A few years before he became ill, he took a sabbatical to go traveling with Laura. Dan had already travelled widely but wanted to share the experience with his wife. Following the birth of his son, his greatest enthusiasm was, of course, reserved for his son.
A few weeks after Dan died there was an informal gathering of family, friends and colleagues on a Sunday in a local park in Cambridgeshire (Wandlebury), which Dan had often visited with Laura, Francis and their dog. It seemed such a fitting tribute to Dan, a celebration of his life, with children and dogs charging around, and it said so much about Dan that so many of us, social workers and guardians as well as barristers and solicitors, came to share a toast.
A memorial for Dan was held at Temple Church on Tuesday 8th November. Fenners Chambers will be organising a memorial for Dan in Cambridge shortly, details to be circulated.
On the 19th of January, we will be hosting a webinar that will take a close look at the best practices when instructing Experts in Family Cases.
The webinar will be led by our panellists;
Fenners Chambers’ Melanie Benn will cover Part 25 Applications and guidance on the need for experts. Followed by a discussion on the Instruction of Psychologists in Parental Alienation cases from Gareth Frow of Regency Chambers. Consultant Paediatrician Dr Susan Zeitlin will discuss the use of Experts in Unexplained Injury cases. Finally, HHJ Liza Gordon-Saker will cover the Approach of the Courts.
We hope you will join us for this invaluable webinar.
The webinar will start at 4:30 pm for 90 minutes, equating to 1.5 CPD points.