National Financial Remedies Court Pilot

  • 27/11/2019

On 1 April next year Greater Manchester Courts (Manchester Civil and Family Justice Centre, Stockport and Wigan) will join the national financial remedies court pilot. As the lead judge for Greater Manchester may I thank the Manchester Messenger for this opportunity to provide information on how the pilot will affect practitioners conducting financial remedy work.

The aim of the Financial Remedies Court is to improve the delivery of financial remedies for families through improved court procedures, quicker outcomes and where appropriate greater use of ADR.

From the court’s perspective we have ticketed specialist judges and will shortly commence gatekeeping and allocation of all applications. This is a process familiar to those who conduct children applications matching cases to judicial expertise, ensuring judicial continuity with more efficient listing practices. The lead time of 12 to 16 weeks to First Appointment means we will commence gatekeeping at the end of December.

All practitioners need do is to file the Allocation Form (completed as helpfully as possible) with Form A’s sent for issue to the Regional divorce centre (RDC) in Liverpool from December onwards. The form has been circulated widely. If you have not seen it an electronic copy can be obtained from Carrie Dwyer: [email protected]

At gatekeeping applications will be allocated as either standard or complex. Judges are ticketed to each type of work. If allocated as complex you will have a judge ticketed to do complex work.

The judge allocated at gatekeeping will conduct all hearings up to and including financial dispute resolution appointment together with any applications made before First Appointment. A fee paid judge (with the same ticket) may conduct any hearing if the allocated judge is on leave, official business or unwell, together with final hearings. There are hard boundaries however between the tickets. For example, a case allocated as complex not settling at FDR will be listed for a final hearing before a complexity ticketed judge only either salaried or fee paid. In this type of case you may notice the increased use of the circuit bench and recorders as first instance judges.

District Judge Stonier and myself will conduct the gatekeeping upon receipt from the RDC of the Form A and the allocation certificate. Issue remains in the RDC for the time being, although I expect this will change nationally with issue devolved to the court zones.

The notice of hearing will identify the allocated judge together with the date, time and location of the hearing. It will also make clear that the attending advocate should bring to that and all subsequent hearings the availability of the conducting advocate for the next hearing. This will ensure no one will leave court without the date and time of the next hearing.

May I also bring to your attention the national digital consent order pilot. Presently paper consent orders are processed at the divorce centre. The pilot removes paper, and delivers approval quicker. The best I’m told in in a matter of hours but certainly days is now often achieved. The judiciary in Manchester have agreed to join this pilot. As it is conducted remotely and for now a national pilot you are unlikely to recognise the name of the judge who has approved the consent order. This is likely however to migrate it into the zones in the future.

I would be very grateful if you could bring these developments to the attention of all staff who conduct financial remedy work. I hope it will be a success, helping you and giving those we work for better and quicker outcomes.

HHJ Mark Haigh. Zone lead Judge Greater Manchester