Rupert Chapman

New Procedure for Appeals in Family Proceedings

As of October 3rd 2016, appeals from orders made by Circuit Judges and Recorders in most private law family proceedings will be heard by a High Court Judge rather than by the Court of Appeal as had previously been the case.

The Access to Justice Act 1999 (Destination of Appeals) (Family Proceedings) (Amendment) Order 2016 applies only in relation to appeals where the notice of appeal was filed on or after October 3rd 2016, so any appeal from a Circuit Judge or Recorder which was filed before that date will continue to the Court of Appeal as before.

The new rules will not apply where;

  • The order is made in proceedings relating to Part 4 (care and supervision cases), Part 5 (protection of children) and paragraph 19 of Schedule 2 of the Children Act 1989 (arrangements to assist children to live abroad) or proceedings under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (adoption and placement applications);
  • The appeal is from a decision relating to contempt of court in or in connection with cases of the above types (i.e. in public law cases only – committal in connection to private law or Family Law Act proceedings will be within the new procedure);
  • The appeal is a second appeal; or
  • The person who made the order was, when the order was made, sitting in a position other than as a Circuit Judge or Recorder (e.g. when sitting as a s.9 High Court Judge).

In such cases the appeal will be to the Court of Appeal, as before.

Appeals from decisions by District Judges and Deputy District Judges of the County Court or District Judges of the Magistrates’ Court are unaffected, as are the requirements for permission. Appeals from a District Judge will continue to be heard by a Circuit Judge.

The intention is to reduce the workload of the Court of Appeal, which is said to be under great strain as the number of appeals increase.

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