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Family Law

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New National Standards for Family Court Experts

New national standards designed to raise the quality of expert witness evidence in family court cases and speed up proceedings became law on 1st October 2014.

The Government explains that the standards were developed in partnership with the expert body the Family Justice Council. Changes to the family court rules will mean only qualified, experienced and recognised professionals will be able to give evidence as expert witnesses in family proceedings relating to children.

This change follows the new laws implemented in April 2014, which mean that expert evidence will now only be commissioned where a judge considers it necessary to resolve a case justly.

These changes form part of wide-ranging work to make sure delays in courts are minimised so that children and young people do not face unnecessary uncertainty. The average time taken for public family law cases has already been reduced from 55 weeks in 2011 to 30 weeks in 2014.

The standards include making sure that the expert:

  • has knowledge appropriate to the court case,
  • has been active in the area of work or practice and has sufficient experience of the issues relevant to the case,
  • is either regulated or accredited to a registered body where this is appropriate,
  • has relevant qualifications and has received appropriate training, and
  • complies with safeguarding requirements.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.

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