General support from Faculty for family case management scheme
PROPOSALS for greater case management of family actions in the sheriff court have been generally endorsed by the Faculty.
While disagreeing with some specific recommendations, the Faculty welcomed the aim of reducing drift and delay.
Changes in the case management of family and civil partnership actions in the sheriff court have been put forward by the Scottish Civil Justice Council in a consultation http://www.scottishciviljusticecouncil.gov.uk/consultations/scjc-consultations/consultation-on-the-case-management-of-family-and-civil-partnership-actions-in-the-sheriff-court
In a response, the Faculty agreed that case management should be applied to all actions, and not just to those seeking an order relating to parental responsibilities under section 11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.
“Case management will be of benefit to family and civil partnership actions whether they include a crave for a section 11 order or not. It will assist in focusing issues,” said the Faculty.
“In some sheriff courts, attempts to implement case management are being made in cases other than those involving a crave for a section 11 order, but the effectiveness of this is hampered by the lack of rules at present.”
One recommendation which the Faculty does not favour is a two-track system for section 11 cases – one where a proof is anticipated, and the other where it is thought the issues might be resolved by child welfare hearings without a proof.
“A better approach may be to commence all cases with a fixed timetable running up to the full case management hearing, which timetable can then be varied on cause shown…This would allow flexibility whilst maintaining management of the litigation,” said the Faculty.
It also disagreed with a suggestion that case management and child welfare hearings should be kept separate.
“It may be more cost effective for litigants and a more efficient use of court time for case management hearings to take place on the same date as a child welfare hearing. The hearings have distinct purposes, but it would make sense for it to be possible for them to be dealt with together,” the Faculty stated.