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Family Procedure Rules Background

The family procedure rules will be a single set of rules for all family proceedings in the high court, county courts and magistrates courts. They will replace the separate rules that currently exist for family proceedings in the different levels of court and will broadly mirror the approach taken for the civil procedure rules. The first stage in this programme, the Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules 2005 came into force on 30 December 2005. Other existing rules, governing family proceedings are still in force.

Latest news - Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules
The Family Procedure (Adoption ) Rules 2005 came into force on 30 December 2005. Notes to accompany the rules including statutory background, list of parts and practice directions are now available.

Notes to accompany the rules

The family procedure rules are made by the family procedure rule committee, as part of a programme of work to create harmonised, integrated and modernised family rules for all levels of court. To mark the first set of rules, notes to accompany the rules are available. They include a background to the committee's work; an explanation of the structure and sequence of the rules and the supplementary practice directions are identified. The rules are arranged in 19 parts, supplemented by 22 practice directions.

Background to the rules

The Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules 2005 are the first family rules to be made under the rule-making powers contained in sections 75 and 76 of the Courts Act 2003 and to apply to three levels of court - the high court, county court and magistrates' court. The 2003 Act established the family procedure rule committee as the sole body with the authority to make rules regulating the practice and procedure for family proceedings in the high court, county courts and magistrates' courts.

At present the rule-making powers in the 2003 Act have been brought into force for adoption purposes only. The committee has exercised its power to make these rules with a view to securing that the rules are both simple and simply expressed. Before making the rules the committee has consulted as it thinks appropriate.

The Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules give effect to the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and come into force on 30 December 2005. The rules are arranged in 19 Parts, supplemented by 22 Practice Directions.

The rules - statutory instrument

The statutory instrument containing the Family Procedure (Adoption) Rules is available to download from the Office of Public Sector Information website The 19 parts of the rules and some background information are listed below.

Part 1: overriding objective
This part contains a new overriding objective of enabling the court to deal with cases justly, having regard to the welfare issues involved.

Part 2: interpretation and application of other rules
This part makes provision for the interpretation of words and phrases and for the application of other rules. Many of the rules have been modelled on the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 and two sections of the CPR (costs and enforcement) have been applied to the rules. The rules of the supreme court and the county court rules, which for most purposes have been revoked, will no longer apply to adoption proceedings in the high court and county courts.

Part 3: general case management powers

Part 4: how to start proceedings

Part 5: procedure for applications in adoption, placement and related proceedings
This part sets out the procedure for applications in adoption, placement and related proceedings from identifying who the parties are (rule 23) to the final hearing (rule 32).

Parts 6 to 8: are devoted to specific aspects of proceedings

Part 6: service

Part 7: litigation friend, children's guardian, reporting officer and children and family reporter

Part 8: documents and disclosure of documents and information

Part 9: procedure for other applications in proceedings
This part prescribes the procedure to be followed when making applications within existing proceedings or in connection with concluded proceedings and, in certain cases, to commence proceedings.

Part 10: alternative procedure for applications
This part prescribes an alternative procedure for making applications, where part 9 does not apply and where there is no form prescribed by rule or practice direction to make the application, or where the applicant seeks the court's decision on a question which is unlikely to involve a substantial dispute of fact, or where a rule or practice direction requires or permits it.

Part 11: miscellaneous
Provisions relating to a number of issues are included in part 11, including the withdrawal of an application and provisions for making orders, providing copies of orders and the amendment or revocation of orders.

Part 12: disputing the court's jurisdiction

Part 13: human rights

Part 14: interim injunctions

Part 15: admissions and evidence

Part 16: witnesses, depositions and evidence for foreign courts

Part 17: experts

Part 18: change of solicitor

Part 19: appeals

Practice directions

The 22 practice directions that supplement the rules were available in full from 23 December 2005. The titles of the practice directions and the rules that they supplement are listed below.



The forms to be used in proceedings under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 are those listed in the practice direction supplementing Part 4, rule 17 (Forms) and Part 5, rule 28 (Consent). These forms will be available from 23 December 2005.

Contact us

If you would like any further information on the rules, please email us or write to us:

Secretary to the Family Procedure Rule Committee Department for Constitutional Affairs
Selborne House
54-60, Victoria Street

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