§ Lord Kimball
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What steps have been taken to name the judiciary who will deal with child care cases in the higher courts under the Children Act, 1989.
§ The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern):
The Children Act 1989 is due to be implemented on 14th October 1991. Central to the philosophy of the Act is the principle that children's cases in the higher courts should be heard by judiciary who, by reason of their experience and training, are specialists in family work.
Under the Courts and Legal Services Act, the Lord Chancellor has the power to nominate such judiciary with the concurrence of the President of the Family Division. The nomination process will extend over a period of months and began on 22nd November 1990 with the announcement of the names of 47 circuit judges who are to be known as "designated family judges". As a second step in the process the Lord Chancellor has today, with the approval of the right honourable Sir Stephen Brown, President of the Family Division, named two further groups of specialist judges.
The first group comprises 49 circuit judges who will be known as "nominated care judges" and the second group consists of 127 district judges who will be responsible for the allocation of care cases, in the higher courts. Both groups will sit at the network of county court "care centres", the locations of which were announced on 22nd November 1990.
The nominated care judges will deal with substantive hearings and emergency protection orders 50WA arising in child care cases transferred up from the magistrates' courts. They will also have jurisdiction in family proceedings.
As their title suggests, the district judges responsible for the allocation of care cases will deal primarily with the allocation and timetabling of child care cases transferred from the magistrates' courts. They will also be able to deal with emergency protection orders and interlocutory matters within transferred cases.
As announced on 4 May 1990, an extensive programme of judicial training is already under way. The nominated care judges and the district judges responsible for the allocation of care cases will receive training in the new procedures established by the Act. Special jurisdictional arrangements will operate in London, where the district judges of the Family Division will have the same jurisdiction as the nominated care judges, while also performing the role of district judges responsible for the allocation of care cases.
Lists showing the care centre locations together with names of the nominated care judges and of the district judges responsible for the allocation of care cases have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.