Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the Family Division, warned in his first ‘View from the President’s Chambers’, that he was concerned for the welfare of all those working in the family courts who are under “remorseless and relentless” pressure and who are “conscientiously continuing to deliver a professional service in a timely manner despite the increase in workload”.
From social workers and guardians to solicitors and judges, all those working in the family courts are painfully aware of the “adverse impact of the high volume of cases”. Sir Andrew outlined that there was little he could do to relieve the current pressures, but he specified that it would be unsustainable for professionals to endeavour to undertake “business as usual”.
He encouraged professionals and local judiciary to establish a dialogue to develop the guidelines and parameters of sensible and acceptable working practices. He suggested agreements could be made in relation to:
- The earliest and latest court sitting times;
- The earliest and latest it is acceptable to send an email to another lawyer or the court;
- Reducing components expected in a ‘position statement’ to only one side of A4 using bullet points.
He acknowledged that, whilst professionals will always go the “extra mile” for the sake of the child, he hopes that they will find new ways to work together to cope with the continued increase of care cases issued at court.
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