"The Review is being led by a panel of experts with an independent chair, David Norgrove.
Call for Evidence
The first stage of the review was to carry out intensive fact-finding activity and formal evidence hearing sessions over the summer months. This started with the launch of a ‘call for evidence’ in June 2010, which ran until 30 September 2010.
This call for evidence stage enabled to take evidence from everyone involved in the family justice system: parents and children, families, professionals and representative bodies, regardless of their level of expertise.
The panel is now analysing the large amount of information collected from individuals responding to the call for evidence. This analysis will inform the panel’s proposals for reform of the family justice system.
Over the autumn and the winter the panel will continue to work closely with professionals, members of the public and with young people, testing developing ideas, through consultation with those who know the system best. These sessions will allow the panel to refine their ideas and to get a clear sense of what an improved family justice system should look like.
Once the panel have assessed all the evidence and explored the possible options, a final set of proposals will be drawn up. These proposals will be published as an interim report in spring 2011.
These proposals will then be subject to public consultation, which will lead to a final report, with proposals for legislation, in autumn 2011."
I wish I could have more confidence in this review process. Having submitted both written and oral evidence I can confirm that the panel seemed very polite and friendly but not as open-minded as they might have been.
The interim report has not yet been published, and yet we already seem to know a disturbing amount about what it will contain. It appears that some of the conclusions were decided a while ago.
I also share Baroness Deech's concern (House of Lords debate on divorce) that mediation - which the panel seems certain to advocate - cannot succeed without changes to the legislation, and yet looking at the law was beyond the panel's remit.