What’s in the news : Just in case you missed it

Family Statistics Quarterly: January to March 2022

Every quarter statistics are published regarding the volume of family cases, with the statistics broken down into the types of cases involved.

This quarter shows a decrease in the number of financial remedy applications made, with the applications being 16% down in comparison to the same quarter in 2021. Of the applications that were made 75% were uncontested and 25% were contested.

The full statistics can be reached here.

Courts and Tribunals Judiciary publishes remote observation of hearings guidance

The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary has provided Practice Guidance on the new powers which allows courts and tribunals to permit the remote observation of hearings by reporters and members of the public. (Section 85A of the Courts Act 2003).

These powers came into effect on 28 June 2022.

Any court, tribunal or body exercising the judicial power of the state can direct that proceedings be transmitted electronically to enable those not taking part in the proceedings to watch and listen.

The Remote Observation and Recording (Courts and Tribunals) Regulations 2022, SI 2022/705, provide further detail on when and how the court will permit remote observation of hearings. It may apply to family proceedings where media / researchers are permitted under FPR 27.11(2) or where the court has allowed a non-participant to attend.

Mediation voucher scheme receives additional funding

The Mediation Voucher Scheme provides a contribution of up to £500 towards the mediation costs of eligible cases, in a bid to help matters settle outside of the court arena. Eligible cases are those where there is a dispute/application regarding a child, or another form of dispute/application, but where the parties are also involved in a dispute regarding a child.

Further funding has now been announced for the scheme, with an additional £5.4m available (10,200 vouchers), with total investment now totalling £8.7m.

Litigation for the rich only?

Mr Justice Mostyn, senior family law judge, has indicated that "financial remedy applications seem to be fast heading for Ritz hotel status- so expensive that it is only accessibly by the very rich."

The comments came as part of a case where the parties had spend £1.7m in costs over a two year period on what was thought to be a "very straightforward" matter, where under two days were spent in court hearing the issues.

He has previously urged the Lord Chancellor or the Family Procedure Rule Committee to take action to help prevent parties incurring high level of costs, which Mostyn J had described as "such extraordinary, self-harming conduct".

"Get help arranging child maintenance" system launched

In May, the Child Maintenance Service launched a new service that gives information about parents making their own arrangement for maintenance or using the Child Maintenance Service. It is available 24/7 and replaces the Child Maintenance Options in England, Scotland and Wales.

For the new system, click here

Rise in divorce applications following introduction of no-fault

Over 12,000 new divorce applications were made on the arrival of no-fault divorce in April 2022, newly published statistics reveal. Of these, over 10,000 were sole applications, with over 2,000 applications taking advantage of the new option for applications to be made jointly.

You can read about the Law Society's comments on the new statistics here.

Probe into litigation loans

The Law Gazette has reported that solicitors are now under the spotlights, after more than a dozen people claimed they felt compelled to take out litigation loans, without proper checks or due diligence. Annual interest rates for these loans can stand between 18-30% and there are reports of people needing to sell their homes to meet the debt.

As noted by the Gazette, these allegations of misconduct, as yet unfounded, are being investigated by financial and legal regulators.

You can read the full article here

Growth in family law market

IRN Research has published a new report that shows that the family law market grew by 4.1% in 2021, although the number of firms is falling.

The growth was said to be dived by "a strong increase in financial remedy matters needing legal advice and growth in advice for hight net worth individuals plus international cases."

With court backlogs being slowly addressed throughout 2021, more cases were completed, although the number of new cases was on the decline.

The Report indicates that IRN expect the market continue to grow by 4.5% in 2022 and 5% in 2023.