On 7 September, the Lord Chief Justice’s Report 2017 (2017 Report) was published. The report provides his annual update to Parliament about the administration of justice. As regards family law, the following is relevant:
- The ongoing overload that we are experiencing in almost all Family Courts is further highlighted by comments from the LCJ that the current situation in public law children matters is at a point of crisis. Cases are up significantly on last year and it is feared that a further, unmanageable increase in cases will arise with the return of UK citizens from Islamic State territory areas.
- There is a continued push for a single set of rules for civil, family and tribunal proceedings. This includes a suggestion for ‘online divorce’ which is intended to be piloted by the East Midlands Divorce Centre. The need for this is becoming ever more apparent as the LCJ also warned of further court closures, the use of pop-up courts and the establishment of more back-office national justice centres.
- The revised Practice Direction 12J of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 is anticipated to come into force during September 2017. We will write a further article on this but it looks at the presumption of parental involvement with children where there is a risk of harm.