New national standards to raise the quality of experts used in family courts and get rid of time-consuming evidence which adds little value in helping judges reach a decision have been announced by the Government.
In the latest stage of reforms to improve and speed up the family justice system, the Ministry of Justice has proposed introducing the new standards so evidence provided in a family court can only be given by qualified, experienced and recognised professionals.
The Government claims that for far too long there has been an increasing trend in England and Wales for expert witnesses to provide unnecessary and costly evidence – in the form of further written statements, clarifications and additional court appearances. This can cause major delays in child care cases and in the worst examples this has led to cases being forced to start again.
Under the new plans experts who are well-qualified and experienced will continue to provide their valuable service in advising the family courts – but the so-called experts who provide evidence which is simply not up to scratch will be driven out.
This consultation is being jointly led by the Family Justice Council and follows the independent Family Justice Review by David Norgrove which identified weaknesses in the quality of evidence being put forward by experts at family proceedings involving children.
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