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Article
23 Jun 2022

Family court system ‘has reached breaking point’

In a recent article in The Times, Family & Divorce Partner, Emily Brand speaks to Catherine Baksi on the current position of the Family Court system, as criminal barristers prepare to strike next week over pay and underfunded crown courts.

Catherine Baksi writes… As criminal barristers prepare to strike next week over pay and underfunded crown courts, family lawyers have highlighted the impact of alleged ministerial penny-pinching in their part of the justice system. Delays caused in part by rising numbers of unrepresented parties — resulting from the withdrawal of legal aid — are said to have contributed to a family court system at “breaking point”. The situation became worse thanks to Covid lockdowns and is being exacerbated by a shortage of judges.

The holdups, said Emily Brand, a partner at Boodle Hatfield, increase the financial and emotional cost for the parties.

Brand warns that the moves could lead to a “two-tier system of justice”, where the wealthy will pay for private arbitration, while others will have to go to court.

A spokeswoman for the judiciary said the family courts have been dealing with “an unprecedented volume of cases”. She added that the family division of the High Court is “at full strength” and that some of the deputy High Court judges’ posts are time-limited. She said some office holders are coming to the end of their term but new appointments are being made.

Read the full article in The Times here.