High Court judge criticises lack of resources in care cases

Family Law|November 13th 2014

A judge in the High Court has criticised the lack of judicial resources available to deal with care proceedings in a timely manner.

Mr Justice Holman said that while “Parliament and the government have said that all these cases must be dealt with rapidly and without delay”, they did not provide the judiciary with enough resources to do so.

In The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham v SG & Ors, the judge heard a care case involving the two year-old child of parents with significant disabilities. The father was “profoundly deaf” and the mother had learning difficulties.

Mr Justice Holman refused to start a final hearing to determine who should be awarded care of the child because there “simply is not enough time available” to make an informed judgment.

He noted that all the parties involved in the case had “expressed horror” about the delay and added that he shared their horror. The judge had discussed the possibility of an early hearing date with the Clerk of the Rules, but was initially told it was impossible.

In the Family Division of the High Court, the Clerk of the Rules provides administrative support to the President and all other family judges. Although the hearing was initially set for February, the Clerk was subsequently able to arrange eight days in November for it to take place.

To read the full judgment click here.

In recent months, other judges have made public statements criticising the government’s approach to family law. In October, a family judge expressed concern over the lack of legal aid for a mother involved in a dispute over her four children.

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