Bristol Family Judge, HHJ Wildblood, has made an appeal directly to lawyers to divert any unnecessary private law litigation away from the Family Court. He has suggested that the family justice system is clogged up with unnecessary applications.
The Judge made the statement during a recent case which was “an order from a legal adviser for the disclosure of five years of medical records relating to a mother in private law proceedings. The order was judged to be ‘unnecessarily and disproportionately invasive’ of the mother’s right to respect for her private life.”
He states, “I am releasing this judgment to highlight the extent to which court lists are being filled by interim private law hearings that should not require court involvement.” He then goes on to say “The court lists in this court are packed with work. I am fully listed until the middle of March and have listings into June.”
To further explain the problem, he gave a number of examples of micro-management requests made to the court within the last month, one of these being “at which junction of the M4 should a child be handed over for contact?”
It is true, there are many family breakdown cases that can be resolved out of court. There are popular theories around the idea that the children involved in these cases should be the main focus, and that keeping it away from court enables the parents to maintain a more amicable parenting relationship. The idea of ‘justice’ being done in a court room, increases stress and often decreases the parents ability to communicate, which in turn affects the childrens health and well being.
There are, of course, cases which need the protection and support of the court. Cases where there is concern over the safety and welfare of the children or either one of the parents involved.
The Judge’s message to parents and lawyers is that the court is the absolute last resort for separating couples and their families, and urges parents to go to family mediation. He also says “do not bring your private law litigation to the Family court here unless it is genuinely necessary for you to do so. You should settle your differences (or those of your clients) away from the court, except where that is not possible. If you do bring unnecessary cases to this court, you will be criticised, and sanctions may be imposed upon you. There are many other ways to settle disagreements, such as mediation.”
The report states that the Judge has the backing of all judges and magistrates who sit in the family court in the area, so it appears to be a popular and supported statement.
The court judgement can be read in full by clicking here
If you are looking for Family Mediation in Bristol, then contact me today for your free no obligation telephone call. Click here to learn more.