Welcome to another week.
The President of The Family Division, Andrew McFarlane, said in his first View From The President’s Chambers that the system would have to cut corners in order to keep going amid budget cuts and increased workloads. McFarlane used his first report as President to highlight his concerns for the wellbeing of social workers, lawyers, judges and court staff in the family courts.
McFarlane said that cutting corners could include increasing the time limit on care proceedings which is set at 26 weeks (the current average completion time is 30 weeks), shortening the working hours of the family courts and reducing the length of Position Statements so that they are initially not more than one side of A4.
The President’s green light to draw out family law cases comes at a time when families are reporting increased levels of mental illness during family proceedings, with some saying that protracted hearings are re-traumatising parents and leading to mental health conditions like PTSD.
It is not clear whether the views expressed in the President’s View are in breach of human rights legislation and the Children Act 1989.
Our question this week then, is this: does the Family Court President ever have a right to allow the cutting of corners in child welfare cases?