Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division, has announced that the specialist ‘Financial Remedies Courts’ that he mentioned in his 17th ‘View from the President’s Chambers’ last May are to be piloted in three places starting, he hopes, in February 2018. The pilots will take place in London, the West Midlands and South-East Wales, and he envisages that further pilots will follow quite shortly on a rolling programme.
In a circular published last Friday, the President said that the basic concept behind the new courts would include:
• That there would be a number of regional hubs, typically two for each of the six court circuits in England and Wales, at which both the administration and the judicial leadership for the relevant hub area will be based.
• That there will be a lead judge for each hub area, who must be a judge with ‘real experience/expertise’ in financial remedy work.
• That hearings will be conducted at the regional hub and also at a number of ‘Financial Remedies Hearing Centres’ within the hub area.
• That only ‘ticketed’ judges will sit in the court, although all judges currently in post who do this type of work will be ‘grandfathered’ in – in other words, as we understand it, new judges will be required to meet certain expertise requirements, but existing judges will be exempted from those requirements.
You can read the President’s circular here.
The benefits that it is hoped the new courts will bring include better and more consistent outcomes because of the greater expertise of the judges, greater judicial continuity (the same judge dealing with the case throughout), and reduced delays and inefficiencies caused by courts hearing many different types of cases. If these benefits are achieved, then Family Law Cafe will give the new courts a warm welcome.
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