• 30/09/2020

Private Law Reforms During Covid 19 Pandemic – Greater Manchester Family Courts

We have received details, from Her Honour Judge Singleton Designated Family Judge for Greater Manchester of the changes to the Private Law process to manage the worrying backlog of private law cases which has developed during the pandemic.   We need to work in a way that takes as many cases as possible as early as possible to a fair compromise or judicial decision.  All Family Lawyers should make take note the details.  The full document can be found at this link –  Private Law Reforms During Covid 19 Pandemic Manchester Final September 2020

During the pandemic the impact upon the judiciary of remote working from home generally without administrative support led to a decision to limit the number of FHDRAs in a list to 3. Our experience of Remote FHDRA hearings is that they are less successful in achieving compromise than attended hearings and the judiciary aspire to these hearings being attended, safely, as soon as possible.

The situation has eased and the number of cases in the FHDRA lists (which will become Private Law lists under this scheme) is now increased to 4 lists and will be kept under review.   The listing of all cases for a FHDRA hearing can be, for a significant number of cases, a waste of the resource. The one size fits all approach of universal FHDRA listing can lead to significant and unnecessary delay in those cases where a FHDRA cannot result in the conclusion of the case. There are classes of case which cannot be concluded with an assisted compromise or early decision without a Section 7 report or without a factfinding hearing.

 The solution – Covid Crisis Private Law Pilot for Greater Manchester

This system, which was implemented on Monday 28th September will run for 12 months when its success will be reviewed.  The principles underpinning changes set out in this document are:

  1. the need for a more flexible approach in terms of initial case management directions, focused on the needs of a specific case.
  2. allocation and gatekeeping will be undertaken following receipt of a safeguarding letter from Cafcass

To see the Court Proceedings Concerning Children Covering Letter to Parties click the link

To see the Top Tips for Parents July 18 (002).docx Private Law Reforms Leaflet click the link