Family financial remedies court update
James Myatt Head of Family Law provides an update on new guidance that will help cases progress through the family financial remedies court.
Guidance has recently been issued by HHJ Edward Hess, the Lead Judge in the London Financial Remedies Court London FRC), which we can anticipate will be mirrored in the regions.
An important initiative in that unless there are special reasons justifying the listing of a case in the London FRC, and the parties’ home is outside London, the case will be dealt with in the FRC local to the home.
There are listing arrangements intended to ensure that cases progress in an efficient and timely manner. Each case will be allocated to a particular (specialist) Judge who will deal with all matters apart from the Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment, (at which the judge gives his or her view on the possible outcome of the case and is therefore conflicted from dealing with the final hearing). It is also intended that to reduce the administrative burden on Court staff, the next hearing in each case will be listed before the end of the previous Court hearing. The days when cases were listed for “a date to be agreed following the provision of dates by Counsel and parties” would appear to be a thing of the past, save in exceptional circumstances.
These arrangements can also be seen in the light of the drive by the Senior Judiciary to make the financial remedy process more transparent and for there to be greater reporting of the outcome of cases to promote consistency – provided that there is at least suitable anonymisation of children.
It is intended that in order to provide for a more efficient service and continue an arrangement that should save parties money, First Directions Appointments (the first hearing in a financial remedy application) and a number of other hearings will be conducted remotely (usually by video) rather than in person. Much time and expense can be spent (and wasted) in travelling to Court and waiting (where that waiting time is not used gainfully for negotiation). It is hoped that in future such expense both of time and money will continue to be substantially reduced.
We look forward to a swifter and more streamlined Court process for resolving the financial issues between divorcing couples. This in no way removes the need to consider on a regular basis whether the case would be resolvable using alternative dispute resolution in the form of perhaps mediation, collaborative practice, private arbitration, or a private Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment.
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