The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, published his report on the state of the court system yesterday, but dedicated just one page to the family courts.
In the report, Burnett divides his comments on the family courts using private and public family law as sub-headings and gives a very brief outline of the Family Court’s current challenges and developments.
Burnett’s main concern in this section of his report is the ongoing rise in private and public family law cases, and he breaks down the number of applications since 2018:
The private family law sector saw 51,672 cases in 2018 and 13,687 cases in the first quarter of 2019, which represented an increase of 12% from the equivalent period in 2018 of 12,185 cases.
The public family law sector hosted 19,037 public law cases in 2018, and 4,460 cases in the first quarter of 2019.
The report mentions an update on the Private Law Working Group report looking at how to relieve the pressure on the court system and litigants. Burnett confirmed that the Group’s final recommendations would be published in early 2020 with a view to implementing changes as soon as possible, once the recommendations were released.
There is also an update on the Public Law Working Group looking at current workloads within the sector. Burnett said this Group’s final recommendations would be published by the end of the 2019, with the changes then being actioned as soon as possible.
At the end of the section on family courts, Burnett mentions an interesting project which aims to ensure that cases are managed and heard by an appropriate judge with the relevant knowledge and experience, but this pilot appears to be only for financial hearings, which is a shame.