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The Family Proceedings (Amendment No 4) Rules 2005

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Explanatory Note

(This note is not part of the Rules)

These rules amend the Family Proceedings Rules 1991 (“FPR”) and deal with the communication of information relating to children cases.

These rules follow on from the amendments made by section 62 of the Children Act 2004 (2004 c. 31) and in particular the amendment made by section 62 to section 12(4) of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 (1960 c. 65) (publication of information relating to proceedings in private). Section 12(4) provides that nothing in section 12 of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 shall imply that any publication is punishable as contempt of court where in particular the publication is not so punishable by reason of it being authorised by rules of court.

Paragraph (6) of these rules introduces a new rule (rule 10.20A) into Part X – Procedure (General) – of the FPR entitled, “Communication of information relating to proceedings”.

Paragraph (1) of rule 10.20A sets out the types of family proceedings held in private to which the new rule will apply. Broadly, these are proceedings concerning the welfare and upbringing of children.

Paragraph (2) of rule 10.20A sets out 3 circumstances in which it is permissible, for the purposes of the law of contempt, to communicate information. These are (1) when the court gives permission; (2) in the circumstances provided for in the table in paragraph (3) and the onward disclosure rule in paragraph (4); and (3) when the communication is made to specified and listed people. Disclosure in accordance with the table and paragraph (4) may be modified or restricted in any way by a direction of the court under paragraph (2)(b).

Paragraph (4) of rule 10.20A provides that a recipient of information pursuant to the table in paragraph (3) may only communicate that information for the purpose or purposes for which he received that information (set out in the table) or for the purpose of professional development or training. In the latter case, however, it is a requirement that the communication should not identify, or be likely to identify, any person involved in the proceedings unless that person has consented.

Paragraph (4) of these rules omits rule 4.23 (confidentiality of documents) from the FPR. Rule 10.20A applies to information and includes documents held by the court. In doing this it replaces rule 4.23.

Paragraphs (5) and (7) of these rules make consequential amendments to the existing Rules following the introduction of rule 10.20A and omission of rule 4.23.

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