The Family Court — one strike and you’re out

As a result of a perfect storm of budgetary constraints, resulting in the numbers of Family Court administration staff being slashed and the removal of legal aid (so many more people are litigants in person), the Family Courts are under more pressure than ever before. Waiting times for court hearings are unacceptably long and there is an ever-increasing need for judges to manage cases proactively.

Effective case management was recognised as an important element of a judge’s task before the current aggravating circumstances facing the family justice system. In Crossley v Crossley (2007), Mark Harper of Withers represented Mr Crossley in his successful application for the wife’s financial claim to be ‘short circuited’.

At the time, the Family Court did not have the power to ‘strike out’ hopeless applications. However, at first instance, Mr Justice Bennett refused to allow the limitations in the rules at that time to act as a ‘straitjacket’ to preclude sensible case management. The Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision and emphasised the court’s objectives (among others) of seeking to save expense and allotting to each case an appropriate share of the court’s resources, taking into account the need to allocate resources to other cases…

Click on the link below to read the rest of the Withers briefing.

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