HL Deb 11 March 2003 vol 645 cc170-1WA
Baroness Gould of Potternewton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made in the specific training for all judicial officers in childcare issues before they are allowed to have a family law ticket which enables them to hear such cases. [HL1904]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

Training of judges and magistrates is the responsibility of the Judicial Studies Board (JSB), which is a body independent of government. It is chaired by Lord Justice Waller.

Authorisation to hear public family law cases is governed by the Family Proceedings (Allocation to Judiciary) (Amendment) Directions 2002, which are made under the Children Act 1989.

Before such authorisation, circuit judges must first attend the public family law induction seminar (formerly known as the residential seminar for potential nominated care judges). Most may already have attended residential private family law seminars, and heard private family law cases. District judges are also invited to attend this course when they have been authorised to hear interlocutory applications in this category, having already undergone similar training in relation to private family law.

Thereafter, both circuit and district judges attend residential continuation seminars every three years in each jurisdiction they exercise.

District judges (magistrates' courts) have the same care jurisdiction as lay magistrates and those who sit regularly in the Family Proceedings Court are also invited to attend the JSB public family law induction seminar as well as private family law seminars. Statutory responsibility for the training of lay magistrates currently rests with magistrates' courts committees (MCCs) under Section 64 of the Justice of the Peace Act 1979, within a framework laid down by the JSB. The current outline syllabus for the training of family panel magistrates covers childcare issues as follows: key principles of the Child Care Act 1989; the welfare principle; needs of the child/basic child development; and the role of the local authority/child protection measures.

Specific training in care issues continues to develop. A series of seminars on the case management protocols is presently being organised for the autumn, and further seminars on the Adoption Act will follow in 2004.