We will keep you informed about training events which may be hosted by the FJB or other organisations, and will make educational material available on this page.

New CAP Forms

  |   Education & Training, Latest News, Updates from the Bench

The President of the Family Division has issued a statement announcing the release of new standard orders to be used under the Child Arrangements Programme with immediate effect.  The intention is to shorten the orders and make them easier and more accessible for court users.


The orders replace the previous CAP forms.  A Master Copy tick box form is being made available to all court staff to complete the orders and can be used to complete orders at court by hand.


For ease of use, we have also produced the three forms in a template format that can easily be downloaded and completed electronically.  They are also available for download from the PRIVATE LAW section of our Information Centre.

CAP Allocation and Gatekeeping

CAP Directions and Orders

CAP Enforcement

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Birmingham LFJB Conference

  |   Education & Training, Events, Latest News

Wednesday 3rd February is a chance to get some early CPD points in this year with the Birmingham Local Family Justice Board annual conference.


The packed programme features many prominent local speakers covering the issues of the day, including FGM, CSE and direct testimony from children in care.


The programme and booking form can be found below and downloaded here.


Advance Conference flyer  app form  2016 (1) copy

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Domestic abuse – coercive control

  |   Education & Training, Events, Latest News

Lawyers and Judges who deal with cases in the Family Court are very familiar with the kinds of controlling behaviours often used within abusive intimate relationships. Domestic abuse does not only mean physical violence; in fact, there are many cases where direct violence is never used. Name-calling, threats, constant criticism, undermining self-esteem, controlling your finances, telling you who you can and cannot talk to or associate with, constantly checking up on you, or telling you what to wear can all be ways that a partner uses to psychologically control you. This can be very damaging and upsetting, but it is often difficult to recognise that your own partner is abusing you in this way.


This kind of behaviour has now been made a criminal offence. Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 is as follows:


Controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—

(a) A repeatedly or continuously engages in behaviour towards another person (B) that is controlling or coercive,

(b) at the time of the behaviour, A and B are personally connected,

(c) the behaviour has a serious effect on B, and

(d) A knows or ought to know that the behaviour will have a serious effect on B.

(2) A and B are “personally connected” if—

(a) A is in an intimate personal relationship with B, or

(b) A and B live together and—

(i) they are members of the same family, or

(ii) they have previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other.

(3) But A does not commit an offence under this section if at the time of the behaviour in question—

(a) A has responsibility for B, for the purposes of Part 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (see section 17 of that Act), and

(b) B is under 16.

(4) A’s behaviour has a “serious effect” on B if—

(a) it causes B to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against B, or

(b) it causes B serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on B’s usual day-to-day activities.

(5) For the purposes of subsection (1)(d) A “ought to know” that which a reasonable person in possession of the same information would know.

(6) For the purposes of subsection (2)(b)(i) A and B are members of the same family if—

(a) they are, or have been, married to each other;

(b) they are, or have been, civil partners of each other;

(c) they are relatives;

(d) they have agreed to marry one another (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);

(e) they have entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not the agreement has been terminated);

(f) they are both parents of the same child;

(g) they have, or have had, parental responsibility for the same child.

(7) In subsection (6)—

“civil partnership agreement” has the meaning given by section 73 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004;

“child” means a person under the age of 18 years;

“parental responsibility” has the same meaning as in the Children Act 1989;

“relative” has the meaning given by section 63(1) of the Family Law Act 1996.

(8) In proceedings for an offence under this section it is a defence for A to show that—

(a) in engaging in the behaviour in question, A believed that he or she was acting in B’s best interests, and

(b) the behaviour was in all the circumstances reasonable.

(9) A is to be taken to have shown the facts mentioned in subsection (8) if—

(a) sufficient evidence of the facts is adduced to raise an issue with respect to them, and

(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

(10) The defence in subsection (8) is not available to A in relation to behaviour that causes B to fear that violence will be used against B.

(11) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or a fine, or both;

(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or a fine, or both.


This means that if your partner (or former partner) behaves repeatedly or continuously in a way which is controlling or coercive towards you, and this has a serious effect on you, they may be guilty of a criminal offence. The effect on you is serious is it causes you to fear on at least two occasions that violence will be used against you, or if it causes you serious alarm or distress which affects your day-to-day life.


If you believe that you are or have been in a relationship like this, you may want to consider reporting this to the police. Alternatively, there are other organisations which can help, such as Women’s Aid.  You can find more contact details on our Useful Links page.  Women’s Aid have produced very useful guidance to help parents to recognise if their teenager is in a controlling relationship (as domestic abuse can begin at a young age). This guidance is also very helpful to show some of the types of controlling and coercive behaviour that abusive partners use. You can download it here.


You can also seek protection from the Family Court. A non-molestation order is an order which can stop your partner from threatening or abusing you, and may be used to make sure they stay a safe distance away from you and your home. If you live together, an occupation order can be used to make sure that your partner needs to leave your home and live somewhere else. These orders can be made on an urgent basis, sometimes without even telling your partner before the case comes to court.



It is also important to remember that if you are in a relationship like this and have children, exposing the children to this kind of behaviour can be very upsetting for them and potentially damaging in the long term. You might want to consider how it is best for your children to spend time with your partner if you choose to separate.


You can find more information in the ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS section of our Information Centre.

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Local PD27A Compliance

  |   Education & Training, Latest News, Updates from the Bench

Leicester DFJ HHJ Bellamy has recently published the following judgment: Re D and R (Children) [2015] EWFC B198


Local practitioners should note the post-script in which HHJ Bellamy states his intention that from 1st January 2016 all lawyers responsible for filing a court bundle for any hearing will be required to complete a certificate of compliance in order to confirm that the bundle complies fully with PD27A.


You may wish to re-familiarise yourself with the Practice Direction and our “Quick Look” Guide.

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ALC conference – places available

  |   Education & Training, Events, Latest News

Places are at this moment still available on the upcoming conference of the Association of Lawyers for Children.


Entitled “Are we nearly there yet?” A Child’s Journey through the Family Justice System, the conference takes place this year at the Midland Hotel, Manchester on 19th-21st November.  A full programme is available here Programme_(2)_2015


Featuring a keynote speech from the Right Honourable Lady Brenda Hale DBE, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, the list of speakers and workshop hosts reads as a veritable “who’s who” of family law.  The high quality of the programme cannot be over-estimated and it covers all areas of children law, including expert evidence and advocacy training.


The conference is residential, but different packages are available for delegates to attend only some or all of the days, with and without accommodation included.

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Section 20 “Agreements” – a further warning

  |   Case Updates, Education & Training, Latest News

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, has issued a stark warning to local authorities regarding the use – or in his words, the misuse – of parental agreements to children being accommodated by the local authority under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.


In Re N (Children: Adoption: Jurisdiction) (a case which is primarily concerned with the appropriateness of a transfer of a case under BIIA to the Hungarian authorities where care proceedings with a plan for adoption in the UK in respect of two Hungarian children had continued for many months in the English courts and had reached the stage of a final hearing before HHJ Bellamy sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) the President reiterated previous guidance in respect of the importance of local authorities ensuring that parental consent is obtained in proper circumstances.  Consideration must always be given to the parent’s capacity to give informed consent and the importance of ensuring that all relevant information is given to the parent in advance cannot be underestimated.


The President also expressed his concern at the frequency with which section 20 agreements are allowed to continue for very long periods before proceedings are issued.  He said he is “exceedingly sceptical” that a parent is able to “contract out” of their ability to immediately withdraw their consent to the child remaining accommodated; such a withdrawal should mean that the local authority must immediately return the child to the care of the parent.  He was envisaging cases in which a parent agrees to give advance notice to a local authority of their intention to withdraw their consent; a step which inevitably allows the local authority time to make an application to the court for a care order.


The judgment is worth reading in full.  The very serious significance of a long period of section 20 accommodation and a failure to properly consider the appropriate jurisdiction for the case at an early stage for these two children, who are foreign nationals, is obvious.  The President reinforced the message once again that jurisdictional matters must be raised at an early stage in every case and that the appropriate authority must be immediately informed of any proceedings in respect of European nationals.


The comments in respect of section 20 agreements begin at paragraph 157.

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HHJ Bellamy Newsletter 21

  |   Education & Training, Latest News, Updates from the Bench

The most recent newsletter from HHJ Bellamy can be downloaded here.


As ever, the newsletter is essential reading for local practitioners and covers issues such as the establishment of the Court of Protection in Leicester, the importance of bundle compliance, (don’t forget our “quick look” guide), radicalisation in the Family Court, pre-proceedings and the increase in the caseload of local care proceedings.



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