The Family Justice Council, established in 2004, is an advisory, non-statutory, non- departmental public body sponsored by the Judicial Office. It provides independent expert advice, from an interdisciplinary perspective, on the operation and reform of the family justice system in England and Wales to the Family Justice Board (the Board) and Government. It is chaired by the President of the Family Divison, and in August 2012, became part of the President's Office.
About the FJC
The primary role of the Family Justice Council is to promote an inter-disciplinary approach to family justice and to monitor the system.
The Council, a non-statutory, advisory non-departmental public body, monitors how effectively the system, both as a whole, and through its component parts, delivers the service the Government and the public need. It advises on reforms necessary for continuous improvement.
The Council was established following a consultation published in March 2002 by the then Lord Chancellor’s Department: “Promoting Inter-Agency Working in the Family Justice System”. This proposed the establishment of a committee to promote interdisciplinary co-operation and best practice, and to advise Government on issues affecting the family justice system. The response to the consultation was overwhelmingly in support of the proposal and the establishment of the Council was approved by the Lord Chancellor in May 2003 and it became operational in July 2004.
Since the final report of the Family Justice Review panel in November 2011, the Council has responded to the recommendations by changing its structure and way of working. Its secretariat has become part of the private office of the President of the Family Division, reflecting the Council’s enhanced role of providing expert inter-disciplinary advice direct to the Family Justice Board, and providing guidance documents and input to the implementation plan for the Single Family Court and judicial proposals for the modernisation of family justice.
In order to achieve its purpose effectively, the Council consists of a representative cross-section of those who work, use or have an interest in the family justice system.
FJC Terms of Reference
1. The Family Justice Council will operate independently of the Family Justice Board but will, as a critical friend to the Family Justice Board; provide it with expert advice, from an inter-disciplinary perspective, on the operation and reform of the family justice system in England and Wales.
2. Its objectives are, in alignment with the priorities established by the Family Justice Board, to:
i) provide independent expert advice, from an inter-disciplinary perspective, to the judiciary, the Family Justice Board and Government on key family justice system issues referred to it either by the judiciary or by the Family Justice Board;
ii) highlight key cross-system issues for the Family Justice Board to consider;
iii) fulfil a ‘critical friend’ role in advising how the Family Justice Board can deliver its priorities and implement its action plan for system-wide improvement;
iv) support the Family Justice Board in devising and disseminating best practice guidance;
v) keep informed of current research and advise the Board and Government on research to be commissioned;
vi) work with the Family Justice Board and Government researchers to inform judges, lawyers, social workers and other professionals of the findings of the latest socio-legal and medico-legal research;
vii) make recommendations to the President of the Family Division on the need for new, or revised, Practice Directions and guidance for use in family proceedings; and
viii) advise the Family Justice Board on appropriate training and guidance for use by professionals and Local Family Justice Boards.