On 10th May 2012 the Crime and Courts Bill was laid before Parliament. The Bill contains two clauses which are intended to create new statutory courts. One is a national County Court for civil proceedings to replace the existing 109 local county courts in England and Wales and the other is the culmination of an aspiration of specialist family practitioners since before the publication of the Finer Report in 1974: a unified Family Court.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create and fashion a court in the image that you and I want. The launch of the court after the summer of 2013 will be the vehicle for a radical change of culture, albeit one that will be reflected elsewhere: by way of example there will be a change programme in civil justice arising out of the Jackson Reforms which will have its own commencement in or around April 2013 and there is a continuing initiative to provide strong leadership and case management in the criminal courts through the national Early Guilty Plea Scheme. The judicial Family Justice Modernisation Programme reflects a consensus for change among judges and professionals of all disciplines and will be the judiciary’s response to the Family Justice Review.