Updates from the Bench

17th View from the President’s Chambers

  |   Latest News, Updates from the Bench

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, can barely disguise his ire at what he clearly considers to be governmental “procrastination” in implementing changes to the current system of divorce and financial remedy litigation.  It is now widely agreed that we should move towards a system of “no fault” divorce and separate divorce from financial remedy proceedings.  Sir James also comments on the need to reform TOLATA in order to enable suitable cases to be dealt with by the Family Court.


The most recent View from the President’s Chambers can be downloaded here.

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Ex-parte orders: Guidance

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The President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has today issued guidance in respect of the appropriate course to adopt when considering ex-parte (without notice) non-molestation orders.


It appears that it has become established practice in some areas of making ex-parte orders of unlimited duration; this is not permitted.  It has also become practice to make ex-parte orders of up to 12 months duration almost as standard.  The length of the order must be justified on the facts of the case.


A return date must be set and this should be within 14 days.


Practitioners must bear in mind and apply the full guidance at all times, which can be downloaded here.

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DVPP – Cafcass best practice

  |   Education & Training, Latest News, Updates from the Bench

Cafcass have issued a letter to Designated Family Judges, published here, clarifying best practice when ordering a party in private law proceedings to attend a Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme (DVPP).  A difficulty had been identified in that, when a final order is made, there is no mechanism for Cafcass to remain involved to monitor the progress of the programme.  Practitioners are now reminded to ensure that a clear order is made which allows for Cafcass ongoing involvement.

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Local Practice Guidance issued by HHJ Bellamy regarding the length of documents

  |   Education & Training, Latest News, Updates from the Bench

Please find attached a local Practice Guidance – length of documents, issued by His Honour Judge Bellamy on 22nd November 2016 to address the length of documents filed within public law proceedings.


Please note that this practice direction contains specific page limits for the length of certain court documents to be filed, as follows:


Social work statements: 25 pages
Parenting and other assessments: 25 pages
Social work chronologies: 4 pages
Threshold documents: 2 pages
Psychologist reports: 25 pages
Independent social work reports: 25 pages


The above page limits should be adhered to unless the court gives permission in a case management order, pending any amendments to the Bundles Practice Direction, Practice Direction 27A by the President.


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Allocation and Transfer Guidance

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The Family Division Liaison Judge for the Midlands, Keehan J, has distributed the guidance below in respect of cases in the Family Court being allocated to a Judge of High Court level.



A case should be allocated or re-allocated to a judge of High Court level where:


(a)    in accordance with the President’s Guidance on Allocation, the case merits being heard by a judge of High Court level;

(b)    there may be a need to invoke the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court; or

(c)    other guidance requires a case to be heard by a judge of High Court level (eg radicalisation cases).


The order should make clear whether the matter is allocated (a) a judge of High Court level (ie including a CJ or recorder sitting s.9) or (b) to a full judge of the Family Division or to a named judge of the Division.



A case may only be transferred from the Family Court to the High Court by either (a) the PFD, (b) an ordinary judge of the Court of Appeal or (c) a puisne judge (ie. a full High Court judge): FPR r.29.17(3)(a) & (4).


The only exception is that a CJ or recorder sitting s.9 may transfer a case to the High Court solely for the purposes of making a disclosure order under the inherent jurisdiction against a Government department: FPR r. 29.17(3)(b) & PD29C.


Accordingly, a decision to transfer a case in the Family Court  to the High Court, because the case ought to have been commenced there or because the court may need to make orders under the inherent jurisdiction, may only be made by the judges set out in r. 29.17(4).

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HHJ Bellamy Newsletter Sept 2016

  |   Latest News, Updates from the Bench

Local practitioners will be interested to read HHJ Bellamy’s most recent newsletter, downloadable here.  It includes information about the upcoming (ever-successful) annual conference, to be held on 28th October 2016, and a request for financial contributions to the running of this website.  If you or your organisation is able to make even a small contribution, please use the Contact Us page, we would be very grateful!

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HHJ Bellamy to move to pastures new

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Leicester and Leicestershire Designated Family Judge has today announced that he will be departing the Leicester Family Court on 30th November 2016 to take up a new post as DFJ of Derby on 1st December 2016.


HHJ Michael Handley will become DFJ for Leicester and Northampton.


LLFJB.com thanks HHJ Bellamy for his unending support before and since our inception; we are sure it will continue from afar.


The full announcement can be downloaded below.

Newsletter 23 – June 2016

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Re L (Case Management: Wasted Costs)

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HHJ Bellamy has recently handed down judgment in Re L (Case Management: Wasted Costs) [2016] EWFC B8 in which he makes wasted costs orders against all legal representatives in a case involving a late adjournment of a fact finding hearing.


The judgment sets out in detail the expectations of legal representatives handling cases in the family court, and HHJ Bellamy’s view that any failure to comply with the duties identified which leads directly to the adjournment of a hearing is likely to be considered negligent in the context of wasted costs.

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