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Family Courts: Autism

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 259353, tabled on 3 June 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to improve support for people with autism in the family courts.

Answered on

6 June 2019

Part 3A of the Family Procedure Rules (FPR) clearly sets out the court’s duty to consider the vulnerability of a party or witness in relation to their participation in court proceedings, including when giving evidence.

The court must consider whether a party’s participation in the proceedings is likely to be diminished by reason of vulnerability and, if so, whether it is necessary to make one or more participation directions to assist that party. The court must consider a number of factors, including whether a party or witness suffers from mental disorder or otherwise has a significant impairment of intelligence or social functioning. Practice Direction 3AA provides further guidance to the court.

Specific training on autism is also available to members of the judiciary through the Judicial College, which provides training and support to members of the judiciary in England and Wales.

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