New appeals process for family courts


A new appeals system for family court proceedings has begun its roll out.

Until now, people who have objected to rulings made in their local family court have had to go to the Court of Appeal in an attempt to overturn the decision.

Under new arrangements, it will instead be High Court judges, with particular expertise in family law proceedings, who typically deal with these appeals.

The Judicial Office has said that the change in the process is designed to relieve pressure on the Court of Appeal, which deals with a considerable caseload each year.

One of the main questions which arose when the change was first announced was whether or not the new appeals would be heard in public or behind closed doors.

Proceedings heard in the family division of the High Court usually take place in private. Bona fide members of the press are able to attend, but Judges exercise control over what  details can be made public.

However, Mr Justice Baker, presiding over an appeal against a family court ruling in Essex, said that the new system would instead follow the traditions of the Court of Appeal – with open court being the usual arrangement.

He said that Judges would make orders to protect the identity of any children involved in the proceedings.

For more information please contact our Head of family team, Alison Green.

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