Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
With lockdown easing, it is not unreasonable to expect the Family Courts to return to normal soon.
However, the president of the Family Division has said this expectation is naïve. He has gone on to say that social distancing is likely to remain for the foreseeable future and so it is unlikely that anything approaching a return to the normal Court working environment will be achieved before the end of 2020 or even spring 2021.
The volume of work in the Family Court was already excessive before the pandemic. This has been exacerbated with many cases adjourned at the start of lockdown. There is now a huge backlog.
Few courts are open for business and those that are open are severely restricting the number of people permitted to attend. The Ministry of Justice is actively looking for space outside of the Court room in places like conference centres, Local Authority offices and universities, but until then Court space is under intense pressure.
Remote hearings which have now become “the norm” are likely to be the predominant method for the majority for all future cases.
Urgent cases only are being heard and the Court issues a weekly list of priorities for family business which are currently stated to be public law matters, private law children urgent applications, domestic abuse and urgent divorce applications.
Inevitably there will have to be a radical reduction in the amount of time the Court affords to each hearing.
Delays in an average divorce case are getting longer.
As a practising family solicitor, it is clear that the family justice system is in crisis. The Judiciary needs our help and has called on us to consider alternatives.