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“On the twelfth day of proceedings, my true love sent to me…”

 A purposeful and robust CMC

Or that is the plan in the imminent revised Public Law Outline anyway.

Let’s have a look, day by day, at what that might mean for the beleaguered parents solicitor.

On the first day of proceedings, my true love sent to me….

A notice from the Local Authority (don’t worry, they aren’t all going to rhyme)

I shall  assume that the notice is served on a Monday, marking day one of the proceedings, and the client promptly reacts to that by wanting an appointment with a solicitor, and they are able to get one that same day. Luckily, the solicitors diary has been freed up by the helpful LASPO changes, hurrah.

Day twelve is therefore a week on Friday.

That will, as we now know, be the CMC. Under the revised Family Procedure Rules 2010 and assorted Practice Directions, if a party seeks an expert assessment, they have to lodge a draft order and the raft of information with the Court not less than 2 working days prior to the CMC.

If you haven’t done that by the time of the CMC, it is very very unlikely that you’ll be getting an expert assessment.

So, by day 10 (the Wednesday of the second week), the parent’s solicitor needs to have drafted that order, got all of the information, and lodged that with the Court. Let us assume that the solicitor has no time out of the office and is able to draft all of that documentation ON THE VERY SAME DAY THEY GET THE INFO FROM THE EXPERTS

{This may not actually be realistic, I am looking at a counsel of perfection here, as if that needs saying}

Thus, the expert needs to have responded to all of the requests for information by Day 10. How long do we think we should give them to do that? Well, we’ve got a weekend at days 6 and 7, so it probably means the solicitor needs to send the expert the request by day 5. That gives the expert the grand total of three working days to complete all that information.

Our fantastically dedicated and efficient solicitor (and their fast-typing assistant)  sends the request for information out on the very same day that they draft the request, and they will do it all by email, because post would make this utterly impossible – that therefore means that the solicitor needs to have everything in place to know what expert they want, what questions are to be asked, by day 5 (which is probably the day after the first hearing).

So no prospect of getting any disclosure in, and you will know where the child is placed in the interim, and what the Guardian’s view of the case is for a whole day before making those strategic long-term decisions about expert assessments.

Day 1 Monday papers received – client comes in with all of them promptly

Day 2 Tuesday

Day 3 Wednesday Day

4 Thursday The first hearing, probably

Day 5 Friday The solicitor needs to identify what expert assessment might be required, formulate some questions, find some suitable experts and send off the request for information as required by the Practice Direction

Day 6 Saturday

Day 7 Sunday

Day 8 Monday

Day 9 Tuesday

Day 10 Wednesday Expert responds to the request for information, solicitor completes and lodges draft LOI, draft order and all the requirements under the Practice Direction

Day 11 Thursday

Day 12 Friday CMC

Oh, and you probably have to write your client’s statement too in that period. Luckily, as you can see, there are a full 5 working days where you are doing nothing whatsoever but twiddling your thumbs. [Apart from, you know, reading the papers, taking instructions, giving advice, contesting an ICO, preparing arguments as to why there should be an assessment, and looking after any other client you happen to have]

We are lucky on this plan that the care proceedings are issued on a Monday, as we only lose two days to weekends. If the proceedings are issued on a Friday, we lose four days to weekends. Heaven help any issued just before a bank holiday weekend.

I think if I were an expert, I wouldn’t be putting down any deposit on a new conservatory or a holiday cottage in the South of France, I suspect with that sort of timetable, instructions might well be drying up a bit.


About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

4 responses

  1. Ian Robertson

    I love the idea that you think there is an assistant. I raised this timescale with MumbyP and he accepted may need greater time to CMC

    Ian Robertson
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    • Yes. the timescales only make sense if they effectively say there is no expert assessment any more – or the cases that will have an expert assessment are so vanishingly rare that the PLO timescales will be not applied. I suspect that this is what is being snuck in, but it would be rather nice for someone to come out and say “independent assessment is no longer required or desired once social services have reported”. It might be that this is a good thing, but it would be nice to debate it. Or even, god forbid research it.

  2. Jerry Lonsdale

    Neigh, Neigh, Neigh, whoooh Boy, this is not good at all, you have forgotten about your noble steed, you know the fella, the one who has a cart in the back office where he sleeps at night,

    While the Partridge will be singing on the first day, by the twelfth day there will be no chance of the Drummers Drumming, well maybe when your frog marched to the gallows, you see, there is going to be bother, there is going to be problems, that, compiled with animal cruelty that is inevitable to happen now in these situations….

    You forgot your noble steed, poor ol’ Neddy, all he wanted to do was to go back before the cart, but no, you didn’t have time to let him do that, your noble steed is now forgotten, neglected and malnourished, worse of all your poor steed couldn’t even take his shoes off after the hectic days he has to deal with, why, some cruel staff member decided to nail his shoes on, tut tut, the RSPCA having heard about ol’ Neddy the officers are now banging on the office door and chomping on the bit at your miracle 1000 wpm typist assistance, now they want answers, your poor assistant is only a millipede she has no answers, the poor thing, your noble steed was one issue, the RSPCA may have let you off with a warning but now seeing how your assistant is treated the RSPCA are showing concerns, they now have also surmounted to accusing you of neglect of your trusted Expert as well, Hapalochlaena Maculosa or more commonly knows as a Blue Ringed [binder] Octopus,

    You see, Experts who are worth their weight in gold had to borrow Darwin’s musings and late last year, it is not reported exactly when these Homo Sapiens started evolving and growing extra arms to cope with the substantial workload,

    The RSPCA had visited the Octopuses offices during day 4, just after the Colly Birds were Calling, trying to call your new Octopus no doubt, horrifyingly and tragically the RSPCA found your Octopus, she was crushed to death by the dozens and dozens of Blue Ringed binders your 1000 wpm Millipede assistant kept sending her, you never even let them breath, boy your are cruel,

    Day 5, Gold rings you are defiantly not going to receive, you are now in a crisis, what do you do, I know, I hear you cry, I will call the Bear, unfortunately The RSPCA also have reports that every 5 days they see a Bear, a Bear with a sore head screaming down the phone for someone to talk too, no one will take his calls, its impossible for your assistant millipede to move away from the copying machine, [the only one in the country working by the way] after copying hundreds and hundreds of documents your forcing her to produce,

    The Bear liked to dress up in fancy dress but sadly with your obvious lack of husbandry he is neglected too,

    The Bear has now taken up cross dressing, you see, he has to be in two places at once, not fair on poor old Bear, his wig is awfully matted, he never seems to knows what to do, he has taken up the drinking of milk from eight fine maids from across the Pennines, after drinking all that milk every eighth day he was becoming seriously obese,

    Bear decided to form a pop group, he’d had enough, them calls still went unanswered, Bear joined with Nine Dancing Girls and Ten Leaping Lords, the Lords a Leaping, some say prancing, due to the new LASPO bill they just passed, now Bear is in one hell of a sorry state, he was left to his own accord, no one could stop him making these silly decisions

    The RSPCA are now foaming at the mouth and to be honest they look a bit rabid, they could not believe what they were witnessing,

    around day 6, 7 or 8 no one at this point knows for certain, the RSPCA Officers decided to allow two days grace, obvious so many chaotic scenes they witnessed they went to the local park to camp out for the night, while there, they came across some previous employees of yours, boy oh boy are you now in for it, there were Geese, sure the RSPCA reported 6, they looked like they were constipated, trying to lay a few case laws one RSPCA office reported, that was enough, surely it couldn’t get any worse, sadly your state of affairs was obviously not going to be the end, your slight saving grace came when the RSPCA officers on the way back to their office had a call from a Swan called seven, he had just come back from the swimming baths and decided to intervene, he was awfully nice and tried to defend your deplorable actions, he has seen what you have to put up with so may be if Seven pleads with the RSPCA officers they will let you off leniently, ha, ha, ha, you wish, sadly Seven’s Pleads fell on deaf ears.

    That’s it the RSPCA officers said, on the eve of the trial for Animal Cruelty, umpteen accounts of neglect, the pipes, the pipes were calling, it had reached day 11 of most peculiar string of events, the Bear now on his pop career with Simon Cowell hasn’t been seen for past few days, but wait you needed Bear to explain things to him at the trial, unfortunately with Bear now not available, your transferred to Three French Hens, no one likes these Hens, all the time they go for the jugular, make you do a merry dance in the court room all the time, funny to watch for the others mind, your only plea you can come up with is to offer the Hens Two Turtle Doves, surely when they see the Doves, the Doves of Piece they will let you off, but oh no as a mark of punishment and to send out a warning to all other wanna be Dr Do-little’s they order that you do the whole case again and do it right this time.

  3. Oink, oink, look at them flap their wings.

    Never mind Bank Holiday, what about Christmas and New Year?

    Cromwell was right . . . abolish them both.

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