Court Case Management
- THE MAIN PRINCIPLES
3.1 The main principles underlying court case management and the means of the court furthering the overriding objective in Public Law Proceedings are—
(1) Timetable for the Child: each case will have a timetable for the proceedings set by the court in accordance with the Timetable for the Child;
(2) judicial continuity: each case will be allocated to one or not more than two case management judges (in the case of magistrates’ courts, case managers), who will be responsible for every case management stage in the proceedings through to the Final Hearing and, in relation to the High Court or county court, one of whom may be – and where possible should be – the judge who will conduct the Final Hearing;
(3) main case management tools: each case will be managed by the court by using the appropriate main case management tools;
(4) active case management: each case will be actively case managed by the court with a view at all times to furthering the overriding objective;
(5) consistency: each case will, so far as compatible with the overriding objective, be managed in a consistent way and using the standardised steps provided for in this Direction.
- THE MAIN CASE MANAGEMENT TOOLS
The Timetable for the Child
3.2 The “Timetable for the Child” is defined by the rules as the timetable set by the court in accordance with its duties under section 1 and 32 of the 1989 Act and shall-
(1) take into account dates of the significant steps in the life of the child who is the subject of the proceedings; and
(2) be appropriate for that child. The court will set the timetable for the proceedings in accordance with the Timetable for the Child and review this Timetable regularly. Where adjustments are made to the Timetable for the Child, the timetable for the proceedings will have to be reviewed. The Timetable for the Child is to be considered at every stage of the proceedings and whenever the court is asked to make directions whether at a hearing or otherwise.
3.3 The steps in the child’s life which are to be taken into account by the court when setting the Timetable for the Child include not only legal steps but also social, care, health and education steps.
3.4 Examples of the dates the court will record and take into account when setting the Timetable for the Child are the dates of—
(1) any formal review by the Local Authority of the case of a looked after child (within the meaning of section 22(1) of the 1989 Act);
(2) the child taking up a place at a new school;
(3) any review by the Local Authority of any statement of the child’s special educational needs;
(4) any assessment by a paediatrician or other specialist;
(5) the outcome of any review of Local Authority plans for the child, for example, any plans for permanence through adoption, Special Guardianship or placement with parents or relatives;
(6) any change or proposed change of the child’s placement.
3.5 Due regard should be paid to the Timetable for the Child to ensure that the court remains child-focused throughout the progress of Public Law Proceedings and that any procedural steps proposed under the Public Law Outline are considered in the context of significant events in the child’s life.
3.6 The applicant is required to provide the information needed about the significant steps in the child’s life in the Application Form and to update this information regularly taking into account information received from others involved in the child’s life such as other parties, members of the child’s family, the person who is caring for the child, the children’s guardian and the child’s key social worker.
3.7 Before setting the timetable for the proceedings the factors which the court will consider will include the need to give effect to the overriding objective and the timescales in the Public Law Outline by which the steps in the Outline are to be taken. Where possible, the timetable for the proceedings should be in line with those timescales. However, there will be cases where the significant steps in the child’s life demand that the steps in the proceedings be taken at times which are outside the timescales set out in the Outline. In those cases the timetable for the proceedings may not adhere to one or more of the timescales set out in the Outline.
3.8 Where more than one child is the subject of the proceedings, the court should consider and may set a Timetable for the Child for each child. The children may not all have the same Timetable, and the court will consider the appropriate progress of the proceedings in relation to each child.
3.9 Where there are parallel care proceedings and criminal proceedings against a person connected with the child for a serious offence against the child, linked directions hearings should where practicable take place as the case progresses. The timing of the proceedings in a linked care and criminal case should appear in the Timetable for the Child.
Case Management Documentation
3.10 Case Management Documentation includes the—
(1) Application Form and Annex Documents;
(3) Local Authority Case Summary;
(4) Other Parties’ Case Summaries.
3.11 The court will encourage the use of the Case Management Documentation which is not prescribed by the rules.
The Case Management Record
3.12 The court‘s filing system for the case will be known as the Case Management Record and will include the following main documents—
(1) the Case Management Documentation;
(2) Standard Directions on Issue and on First Appointment;
(3) Case Management Orders approved by the court.
3.13 Parties or their legal representatives will be expected to retain their own record containing copies of the documents on the court’s Case Management Record.
The First Appointment
3.14 The purpose of the First Appointment is to confirm allocation of the case and give initial case management directions.
The Case Management Order
3.15 The Case Management Order is an order which will be made by the court at the conclusion of the Case Management Conference, the Issues Resolution Hearing and any other case management hearing.
It is designed to achieve active case management as defined in paragraph 3.20 below. The parties are required to prepare and submit to the court a draft of this order in accordance with paragraphs 5.8 to 5.10 below.
The order will include such of the provisions referred to in the Glossary at paragraph 26(12) as are appropriate to the proceedings.
Advocates’ Meeting/ discussion 3.16 The court will consider directing advocates to have discussions before the Case Management Conference and the Issues Resolution Hearing. Advocates may well find that the best way to have these discussions is to meet.
Such discussion is intended to facilitate agreement and to narrow the issues for the court to consider. Advocates and litigants in person may take part in the Advocates’ Meeting or discussions.
The Case Management Conference 3.17 In each case there will be a Case Management Conference to enable the case management judge or case manager, with the co-operation of the parties, actively to manage the case and, at the earliest practicable opportunity to—
(1) identify the relevant and key issues; and
(2) give full case management directions including confirming the Timetable for the Child.
The Issues Resolution Hearing 3.18 In each case there will be an Issues Resolution Hearing before the Final Hearing to-
(1) identify any remaining key issues; and
(2) as far as possible, resolve or narrow those issues.
- ACTIVE CASE MANAGEMENT
3.19 The court must further the overriding objective by actively managing cases.
3.20 Active case management includes—
(1) identifying the Timetable for the Child;
(2) identifying the appropriate court to conduct the proceedings and transferring the proceedings as early as possible to that court;
(3) encouraging the parties to co-operate with each other in the conduct of the proceedings;
(4) retaining the Case Management Record;
(5) identifying all facts and matters that are in issue at the earliest stage in the proceedings and at each hearing;
(6) deciding promptly which issues need full investigation and hearing and which do not and whether a fact finding hearing is required;
(7) deciding the order in which issues are to be resolved
(8) identifying at an early stage who should be a party to the proceedings;
(9) considering whether the likely benefits of taking a particular step justify any delay which will result and the cost of taking it;
(10) directing discussion between advocates and litigants in person before the Case Management Conference and Issues Resolution Hearing;
(11) requiring the use of the Case Management Order and directing advocates and litigants in person to prepare or adjust the draft of this Order where appropriate;
(12) standardising, simplifying and regulating—
(a) the use of Case Management Documentation and forms;
(b) the court’s orders and directions;
(a) the use and cost of experts;
(b) the nature and extent of the documents which are to be disclosed to the parties and presented to the court;
(c) whether and, if so, in what manner the documents disclosed are to be presented to the court;
(d) the progress of the case;
(14) where it is demonstrated to be in the interests of the child, encouraging the parties to use an alternative dispute resolution procedure if the court considers such a procedure to be appropriate and facilitating the use of such procedure;
(15) helping the parties to reach agreement in relation to the whole or part of the case;
(16) fixing the dates for all appointments and hearings;
(17) dealing with as many aspects of the case as it can on the same occasion;
(18) where possible dealing with additional issues which may arise from time to time in the case without requiring the parties to attend at court;
(19) making use of technology; and
(20) giving directions to ensure that the case proceeds quickly and efficiently.