Note from HH Judge Haigh, Lead Judge, Greater Manchester Financial Remedies Court

  • 20/04/2020

The purpose of this short note is to ask for the cooperation of practitioners in helping HMCTS address a critical work problem in the Greater Manchester financial remedies court

Financial remedies work has been accorded the least priority in the latest agreement between HMCTS and the PFD whilst the country is in lockdown during the Covid 19 pandemic.

The timing could not have been worse following the launch of the financial remedies court in Greater Manchester on 1 April. All cases issued since 1 January have been promptly gatekept and allocated by the judiciary. Unfortunately, however there is a listing backlog.

HMCTS staff in the family department has reduced temporarily by approximately 30% because of Covid 19, particularly affecting experienced members of the team

Processing of financial remedy work by the residue of the team has been hampered by them having to field telephone calls from practitioners and members of the public understandably concerned about imminent hearings, organising remote hearings and querying why first appointments have not been listed.

First appointments are now significantly out of profile and looking forward will not be listed in the 12 to 16-week window. I met senior management last Thursday and whilst there are some things we can and will do to improve the situation modestly there is no silver bullet. The backlog will take at least 1-2 months to work through. I will review this a month from now and provide an update hoping that things will have improved.

Practitioners can help us in this by reviewing cases on the verge of issue. May I ask that these be reviewed as to their suitability for ADR? If they are I would encourage it. If not, I ask that consideration be given, in nonurgent cases, to the issue being deferred for a month or two to allow HMCTS to address and correct the present backlog.

All urgent cases (S37 / MPS / interim maintenance) remain welcome and will be accorded issue and listing priority. If practitioners experience delay on these I can be contacted directly by e mail and will intervene.

I am genuinely sorry to send out this message particularly at a time when I hoped we could significantly improve the delivery of financial remedy work in Greater Manchester.

Best wishes

HHJ Haigh.

Lead judge Greater Manchester FRC.

[email protected]