- What is a Scott Schedule?
- Why is a Scott Schedule needed?
- What needs to be included within a Scott Schedule?
- When will a Scott Schedule be required to be prepared?
- Can a statement be provided to the court in support of a Scott Schedule?
- What evidences can be relied upon when completing a Scott Schedule?
- Is a Scott Schedule only beneficial to a party making the allegations or alleging an incident that has taken place?
- What happens when a Scott Schedule is prepared and submitted?
- Can a person against whom allegations have been made make cross allegations?
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Where allegations of domestic harm is concerned the court’s may order for a Scott Schedule to be prepared by one party and allow the other party to respond to. In such a case the courts will order for a fact finding hearing to be listed in order to consider the allegations made against parties and confirm whether the allegations will have any bearing on the litigation and family law proceedings.
Frequently Scott schedules are used in cases concerning child custody and child contact arrangements where there is a factual dispute between the parents in relation to injuries to children or abuse and domestic violence involving the parents or children. A Scott schedule may also be used in divorce proceedings which involve financial settlements, where one spouse is alleging financial misconduct by the other spouse.
What is a Scott Schedule?
A Scott schedule is a list of allegation of harm set out in the basis of a form which the courts use to carefully consider directions before making its decision to investigate further. The family court will usually direct for parties to submit a Scott schedule ahead of a fact-finding hearing where the courts will determine whether the allegations made are true or false.
The Scott schedule itself is a tool used to outline the questions which a judge will need to decide upon. The purpose of a Scott schedule is to allow the party making allegations to set out their arguments clearly and concisely. The other party against whom the allegations are made will then be provided an opportunity to respond to the complaints and allegations made against them.
Why is a Scott Schedule needed?
Quite often parties in family proceedings make many allegations against one another. In such a case the courts will require a party to prepare a schedule of allegations which is also known as a Scott schedule. The Scott schedule will lay out the issues in dispute clearly and will require the opponent to provide their response to the allegations. This will enable the court to ascertain the allegations being made. The courts will then use the Scott schedule when determining whether the allegations made are true or false and determine what needs to be done next in the family proceedings.
What needs to be included within a Scott Schedule?
The Family Procedure Rules and practice direction 12J refer to the Scott Schedule. This direction states “whether the key facts in dispute can be contained in a schedule or a table (known as a Scott Schedule) which sets out what the applicant complains of or alleges, what the respondent says in relation to each individual allegation or complaint; the allegations in the schedule should be focused on the factual issues to be tried”.
Based on this guidance by the Family Procedure Rules the Scott schedule must contain:
- The number. This will clearly state the number of allegations which are being made by a party.
- The allegation. This column will detail the allegations which are being made by one party against the other. Ideally the allegations must be kept brief and concise as they can be expanded on using a witness statement in support of the allegations and by way of oral evidence at a hearing.
- The Date. This will usually detail the date as to when the alleged incident or allegation took place.
- This column should be used to specify where further information in relation to the allegation or incident can be found. This will usually refer the parties and the court to a witness statement, evidence in support or to the bundle provided for the court purposes.
- If you are a party making the allegation, then you will leave this section blank. This section is to be completed by the party against whom the allegations are made. They will be required to confirm whether admit or deny the allegation and provide their response.
- This will be used by the Respondent who is writing the response. This also provides them with the opportunity to refer their response by way of a statement or evidence they intend to rely on.
- Judges Finding. This section is left blank. The judge will fill in this section with their findings at the hearing.
When will a Scott Schedule be required to be prepared?
A Scott Schedule will usually be directed to be prepared by the Family Court when a fact-finding hearing is required. It is up to the Judge to decide whether a fact-finding hearing is required. Prior to the fact finding hearing the judge will require you to provide a list of all the allegations you would like the judge to consider. This is the process which is known as the Scott Schedule.
Can a statement be provided to the court in support of a Scott Schedule?
Our Family Law specialists have experienced that a statement accompanying a Scott Schedule can be very useful. This provides you with an opportunity to clearly demonstrate the history of your relationship with the other party. The Scott Schedule itself is a very brief and concise document. However, the use of a statement can assist you in describing in detail an incident which has taken place or an allegation which you are referring to.
A statement with your Scott Schedule can describe in more detail what actually took place which the courts can consider when determining the allegations in a fact-finding hearing. This will enable the court and the judge to better understand the incident, allegations and the circumstances around these.
You could also annex any evidences you have in support of your allegations or incidents which have taken place to your statement.
What evidences can be relied upon when completing a Scott Schedule?
When completing a Scott schedule, you must detail the allegations you are making or an incident that has taken place. Quite often in cases concerning children the allegations usually consist of domestic violence or injuries caused to the children. In most of these circumstances there can often be involvement of other professionals such as healthcare professionals, the police, the child’s school or even local authorities or bodies such as Cafcass.
In order to support allegations, you can include evidence which you have may have directly or indirectly obtained. This can take place in the form of:
- Police reports – Incidents involving abuse or violence are often reported to the police. When you are looking to rely on such incidents you can look to obtain a police report or letter directly from the Police or request the court to make a direction to obtain this information as part of the proceedings.
- Healthcare professional reports – Where one party alleges domestic abuse, physical violence or harm to themselves or the children, medical evidence may be used as evidence to support the allegation or an incident. Quite often where physical injury has taken place this may have been reported to your local GP or a hospital. GP letters, reports or hospital reports can therefore be annexed to your Scott Schedule or statement to evidence the incident and the injuries caused. Where there is no direct physical abuse, but mental abuse, expert reports such as psychiatric and psychological reports can also be used to evidence the harm suffered.
- Local Authority and Cafcass reports – quite often when an incident involves children, bodies such as the social services, local authorities and Cafcass may become involved. In such cases the courts may look to obtain reports and analysis from such bodies to help determine the issues at hand. Where a party making an allegation has reported incidents to such bodies, they can also use the correspondences sent and received together with any reports as part of their evidence.
- School and educational documents – We often note that incidents may occur at children’s schools or educational institutions where one parent may look to take the child from the other parent without their consent. In such circumstances the school may witness this incident and evidence can be adduced from them to rely on when completing a Scott Schedule and preparing for a fact-finding hearing. The school and teachers may also be able to confirm by way of correspondence or reports as to what incidents took place and whether such incidents have negatively affected the child’s education and development.
Is a Scott Schedule only beneficial to a party making the allegations or alleging an incident that has taken place?
A Scott schedule is an aid and tool which can be utilised by an applicant and a respondent. If you are a party against whom allegations are being made, then you can also utilise this to provide your responses and details of what you believe took place. During family and child proceedings, parties involved can become quite hostile. This can often result in one party making false allegations against the other to try and obtain a decision which is favourable to them. A party can therefore use a Scott Schedule effectively to illustrate to the court how the allegations made against them are incorrect. The Scott Schedule contains a column for response. This section is for a party against whom an allegation is made to provide their response to each of the alleged allegation or incident. You can include a short factual explanation of what took place or can refer to a statement you are looking to prepare in response.
What happens when a Scott Schedule is prepared and submitted?
Once a Scott Schedule has been completed and prepared by both parties the court is likely to use this along with any statements and evidences provided in a fact-finding hearing. The courts will consider the disputed and contested allegations by considering the evidence and assessing the reliability and credibility of each party and the witnesses provided.
The person who is making the allegations must prove on the balance of probabilities that the allegation is true, or the incident took place. This can only be proven where the judge is satisfied that each incident was more likely than not to have taken place.
Once the courts have considered each allegation and the responses in turn, they will need to decide whether the allegation is true or whether the alleged incident took place. The decision of the judge and court will form the factual basis on which the matter can proceed further.
If certain allegations or incidents are proven to be true, the Judge can decide to order a further assessment of the welfare needs of the children involved and a risk assessment to be carried out.
Following the hearing a judge will direct that a transcript of the Judgment is made available which will outline the evidence considered by the Judge and what the judge found as well as how the judge arrived at their findings.
Can a person against whom allegations have been made make cross allegations?
It is possible for a person against whom allegations are made to make cross allegations against the applicant. This can often happen where the party making the allegations has falsely made these against the other party. If, however the Respondent wishes to make separate allegations which are not referred to in the Scott Schedule then, these can be made. These new separate allegations which have not previously been referred to will need to be made in a counter schedule. Once the counter schedule has been prepared this can then be sent to the party making the original allegations who will need to provide their response to the counter schedule.
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Is a Scott Schedule only used in Child law matters?
A Scott Schedule is commonly used in child law matters. However, this can also be directed in cases involving divorce, dissolution of a civil partnership and financial settlement cases. This can be used where one party is making allegations about the behaviour of other party, or where there are allegations of financial wrongdoings in order to prevent a fair and reasonable settlement. This could be used where one party is alleging the other party has hidden assets or discreetly moved assets in order to prevent the other spouse from obtain them following a breakdown of the relationship.
A Scott Schedule is also used in other civil matters such as construction and the building industry where an alleged damage has been caused by the contractor or the builder.
Arrange a free consultation today to discuss the how we can help you prepare a Scott Schedule
If you have been directed to prepare a Scott Schedule or have been instructed by the court to respond to one, then you may wish to consider obtaining further information. You can contact one of our family law specialists today on 0330 094 5880 to discuss further or arrange a call-back. Did you know as well assisting you with preparing or responding to a Scott Schedule we can also assist with a counter schedule as well as assisting you prepare a statement in support of your schedule. We also offer Skype calls for our international client’s which can be requested.
At Kabir Family Law we pride ourselves to have the national strength to serve family law across country with family lawyers in Oxford, York, Manchester, London and Newcastle. Contact us today for a no obligation initial consultation to find out how we can assist you in your family law matter.