Continued Deterioration Of Court Standards

Continued Deterioration Of Court Standards

Despite the HMCTS modernisation programme, the standards of family courts are continuing to deteriorate according to a survey by Resolution. 

The survey, that took place in the first and final quarters of 2019 revealed that members were finding increased delays in processing and hearing of urgent cases.   

It was also reported that concerns over the accuracy and quality of court documents and availability of judges for emergency applications had increased. 

In its response to the survey, Resolution raised an article in the Sunday Times, where a judge was ‘begging’ for donations from firms to help fund a charity to provide support for “160,000 people clogging up the system by appearing in court without a lawyer”.  The article showed the “calamitous results” and the impact the deteriorating standards were having on families. 

The article provoked many angry responses, many from practising and retired family law solicitors, who argued that it is not the responsibilities for firms to fund the court system.  Many stated that perhaps it should be up to judges to have lower salaries.  A group 7 judicial salary is over £108,000 pa rising to over £257,000 pa for group 1 judicial employees. Others argued that the government should be making up the shortfall they created. 

The article raises the issue of “people clogging up the system” as they are not represented, also raising the argument that there should be further funding for legal aid, as there has been a significant increase in family law cases where the parties are unrepresented since the removal of legal aid for most family law cases since 2013.   

Resolution is asking for lawyers with “first-hand” experiences to get in touch to be able to continue highlighting the issues and stories “in a powerful and impactful manner”.  They also call for lawyers to speak to clients to see if they would be willing to share their experiences. 

What are your experiences of the family court system?  Do you think firms should be making donations to support a crumbling judicial system?

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