Heralded as the ‘authoritative set of best practice guidelines’, this book merits that description. However, with increasing numbers of family litigants in person, it remains a mystery why the entire protocol is not available free online.
Granted, the first seven pages of the main protocol are available as a pdf. But surely, with over one-third of cases in the family court having no legal representative for either party, it would help self-represented individuals (not to mention the courts) to have online access to the entire publication without charge.
The work has been updated to cover all family changes since 2010. It includes, for example, new chapters on forced marriage and alternative pathways to parenthood.
In his foreword, the president of the Family Division endorses the requirement to attempt dispute resolution, reminding us that court proceedings should be a last resort.
£39.95, Law Society
Mediation is dealt with thoroughly, over a dozen or more pages, with mentions throughout the volume. Collaborative law and family law arbitration both feature, but only for a couple of pages apiece in the section on non-court dispute resolution. The rumour is that an entire chapter was written on arbitration but went astray. Hopefully that will make an appearance in the next edition, also covering the Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme, launched in the summer, as well as the scheme relating to financial matters.
This book is indispensable and should be in every family law team’s office. Since the first edition in 2002, it has been a key source of guidance to practitioners, from paralegals to partners. It is testament to the hard work of the Law Society’s Family Law Committee, which developed it in association with Resolution and other leading organisations, interest groups and experts.
Tony Roe is a family law arbitrator and principal of Tony Roe Divorce & Family Law Solicitors, Theale, Reading. He is a member of the Law Society’s Family Section and Small Firms Division committees