Applications for forced marriage protection orders (“FMPO”s) made pursuant to s.63A of the Family Law Act 1996 are on the rise: in 2018, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit provided advice or support in 1,764 possible forced marriage cases; a significant increase from the following 1200-1400 cases in 2017. Also in 2018, Family Court statistics indicate that 322 applications were made and 324 orders granted. Despite applications being made by police, who must seek leave to make such an application under s.63C(3) of the Family Law Act 1996, and local authorities, the legislation itself does not provide clear guidance as to how the court should deal with such applications. The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has now done so in Re K (Forced Marriage: Passport Order) EWCA Civ 190.
The Court of Appeal has held in Re M (Children) (Disclosure to the Police)  EWCA Civ 1364, that the Re C test for disclosure of material from care proceedings to the police remains good law after 23 years, and in the light of the Human Rights Act 1996, but with the qualification that disclosure must be necessary and proportionate.
As we head into the next legal term, it is worth noting the pilot scheme that came into effect at the end of July 2018 when some lawyers were downing-tools for a short summer break. The Family Procedure Rules has a new Practice Direction 36H, which sets up a pilot scheme to allow for the following protection orders to be served on the police at a centralised email address:
– Forced marriage protection order under Family Law Act 1996 s63A;
– FGM protection order under Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 under Sch 2, Part 1, para 1(1).
This applies to orders made in the High Court or Family Court between 23 July 2018 and 25 January 2019. Where the court makes a protection order, it must be emailed to the centralised email address created and monitored by the Vulnerability Coordination centre, namely firstname.lastname@example.org.
The link to the practice direction on the justice.gov.uk website does not work (it should be here) but the Law Society have a pdf copy of it here.
The Family Division of the High Court in G v G (Chief Constable of Dorset Police intervening)  EWHC 1100 (Fam) ordered that the service and disclosure of a CAFCASS report be delayed for a week in order to allow an effective police investigation into allegations that the father had sexually abused one of the children. The judgment of 4 May 2018 was delivered in private and Holman J gave leave for an anonymised version to be published one week later, stating that the decision had been made upon the Court “being asked to take a very unusual course” in “a very unusual application”.
Who pays the costs of Special Advocates where closed material procedures are required to consider sensitive police documents in family proceedings? The police, according to Cobb J in Re R (Closed Material Procedure: Special Advocates: Funding) EWHC 1793 (Fam).
In family proceedings where the police are ordered to disclose relevant documents, occasionally the police object to disclosure or inspection of particularly sensitive documents. Where the court deems it necessary, it can invite the Attorney General to appoint Special Advocates to represent the interests of the parties in closed material procedures to consider that sensitive evidence. Special Advocates are appointed by through the Special Advocates’ Support Office (“SASO”), which is part of the Government Legal Department.