Circuit Court Rules (Case Progression and Family Law Proceedings) 2008 – SI No. 358 of 2008
Very interesting developments have occurred as a result of the new Circuit Court Rules which introduce case progression in Family Law proceedings namely Judicial Separation and Divorce Proceedings.
The new rules are intended to provide a certain focus and impetus to family law proceedings that many clients and practitioners have noted as lacking in recent years. The new rules intend to do this by providing for case progression in other words a form of supervision by County Registrars when it comes to the preparation for Trial of Family Law proceedings in the Circuit Family Court. The new Family Law Rules apply only to new Family Law cases for example all Judicial Separation and Divorce proceedings that have come into being after the 1st of October 2008.
The purpose of the case progression is to ensure that proceedings are prepared for trial in a manner that is just, expeditious and likely to minimise the cost of proceedings and at the time all the resources of the Court are employed optimally. The County Registrar shall cause the proceedings to be listed before him for a case progression hearing on a date which is not later than seventy days after the Respondent files his Defence. The County Registrar shall issue a Summons in Form 37L of the Schedule of Forms to each of the parties to attend such a hearing to which shall be attached the case progression questionnaire referred to in paragraph 23. In fixing the date for which the proceedings are listed for case progression the County Registrar shall allow the parties sufficient time to vouch the items referred to in their respective Affidavits of Means within the time prescribed by sub-rule 17 and to complete the case progression questionnaire within the time prescribed in paragraph 23. The whole purpose behind this is to avoid lengthy discovery documentation applications that can delay a case by at least six months to a year.
It is also interesting to note that when a Pension Adjustment Order is sought by either party, the Notice to Trustees shall be served an Affidavit of Service in respect of same shall be filed and a copy of such Notice and Affidavit shall be served on either party prior to the case progression hearing. This is an interesting development as usually Notice to Trustees are served a number of weeks before the final hearing date; this should allow any difficulties in relation to the proposed Pension Adjustment Order to be clarified and dealt with prior to the final hearing.
As all Family Law practitioners are only too well aware that the volume of pre-trial motions in the family law cases in the Circuit Court is considerable. “In many cases, the pre-trial applications seriously delay the actual Family Law cases proceeding to trial in an expeditious manner. It is hoped that the new rules will help relieve the Circuit Court judges of a large pre-trial applications caseload and thereby free up the Judges to actually allow them to do trial work.” This is a very welcomed development.
Summary by Finola Freehill
22 October 2008