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Parliamentary Question 106221 (Family Courts)

Volume 549: debated on Tuesday 4 September 2012

The written answer given to the hon. Member for Birmingham Yardley (John Hemming) on 30 April 2012, Official Report, column 1158W, did not fully address the question that was asked. The hon. Member asked, pursuant to the answer of 25 April 2012, Official Report, column 920W, on family courts: expert evidence, if the Secretary of State would bring forward proposals to allow non-legally qualified people who are not party to the proceeding to refer expert reports in family proceedings to regulators.

The full answer is as follows:

The Government have no plans to bring forward proposals of this kind. The Government do not consider it necessary, since it is already possible for someone who is not a party to the proceedings to refer an expert’s report to regulators provided certain conditions are met.

The Family Procedure Rules 2010 permit a party to the proceedings, or that party’s legal representative acting on the party’s instructions, to communicate information to another person where necessary to enable the party to make and pursue a complaint against a person or body involved in the proceedings, which would include disclosing an expert’s report to another person for the purpose of pursuing a complaint about that expert. That person is then permitted (with the party’s permission) to disclose this information to another person (who may, for example, be the regulator) provided it is for the same purpose. Neither the person to whom the information is disclosed in the first instance, nor the person to whom it is subsequently disclosed, need be legally qualified. The relevant rules (FPR 12.75 (3) and 12.75 (1) (c)) are set out in part 12 of the Family Procedure Rules.