The Financial Remedies Working Group established by the President of the Family Division has published its final report.
The group was formed last June by Sir James Munby, to help unrepresented litigants in person navigate their way through financial cases and also improve general good practice in family cases involving money, referred to as ‘financial remedy’ cases. The group’s members included judges and other legal professionals.
Following an interim report last summer, the group’s final set of recommendations was unveiled this week. Its recommendations include making financial dispute resolution (FDR) a compulsory element of all family cases involving money, unless courts have specifically ordered otherwise. They should only do so in exceptional cases, the group declares.
FDR meetings are held prior to the commencement of court proceedings, in order to try and resolve the dispute without the expense and stress of a court trial. The group states that court hearing dates should not be given unless and until a FDR has taken place. The Family Procedure Rules, which set out regulations for the conduct of family cases, should be changed, the report recommends, so that an FDR session would become a routine element of initial hearings, even if the parties themselves were unwilling.
Family law group Resolution responded to the final report with an official statement. Chair Jo Edwards said she thought the group had not gone far enough in addressing the needs of litigants in person.
“… we still fear that the report’s recommendations are most useful for cases involving wealthy litigants in contested proceedings. With more litigants in person coming before the courts than ever before, we would have liked to have seen the Working Group to delve more deeply into the issues facing the average court user.”
Read the report here.