Norfolk MP takes the Family Court backlog into the Commons
Posted on 21st January 2023
Norfolk MP takes the family court backlog into the Commons...
Duncan Baker, MP for North Norfolk, highlighted the impact of the backlogs in the House of Commons recently saying that significant backlogs were having "real knock-on effects on families, single parents and children". Family court backlogs now stand at more than 110,000 cases nationally. Baker went on to say, "The sooner cases can be heard the better it is for everybody involved." Justice Minister Mike Freer said that additional judges were being recruited, and a focus is being placed on virtual hearings to ease the pressure. We have long said that virtual hearings are not being utilised as a tool to encourage efficiency, as an eort was made to return to in-person hearings after lockdown ended. It will be interesting to see if the measures promised by Freer materialise. The government has also expanded a scheme giving £500 mediation vouchers to help parents find mutually agreeable solutions to avoid a battle in court. Freer said, "My understanding is that the voucher scheme has been successful and about 65% of those families that have used it said it had helped to keep them out of the court process.". We wonder how they aim to help that remaining 35% of families who did not find the vouchers useful, or if they have considered the many cases where mediation fails or is simply not possible in the first place. Official estimates currently state a return to 'pre-COVID wait times' by the end of 2023, but we do not see how this is feasible. We currently have hearings on the calendar reaching well into the new year, so we would not be surprised to see the backlog continue to be an ever-growing problem. We will continue to support our clients, and encourage you all to be patient. Unless Mike Freer has a miracle up his sleeve, we don't see the backlog going anywhere soon.
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