Family Court Judge stresses resources are at breaking point


Family Court services are dealing with more social care cases than they can handle, a top senior Judge has claimed.

Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, said the system has seen a “large and sustained rise” in public law applications.

He said council social services are making more applications for children to be taken from the care of parents – throwing the Family Courts into crisis.

While the rate of increase has slowed in recent months, the trend is still “upwards” and is taking its toll on static judicial resources.

“2016 saw a large and sustained rise in public law applications,” said Lord Thomas in a speech to Parliament.

“Between January and November 2016, the year-on-year increase averaged 20 per cent.

“This was on top of a similar scale of increase in 2015. Since the beginning of 2017, the rate of increase has slowed, but the trend is still upwards.

“There were 5,051 new public law applications in January to March 2017, up 5% on the equivalent quarter in 2016.

“Average case duration is beginning to move up again after a long and sustained fall. It now stands at 28 weeks after several quarters hovering around 27 weeks.

“This rise in caseload comes at a time of static judicial resources.

“The President of the Family Division has described the situation as a crisis, a view with which the Lord Chief Justice concurs.”

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