Family Law Hub

President's 18th View sets out his vision for financial remedies reform

Latest update gives detail on the new Financial Remedy Courts, new Forms A and E for use in the associated pilot and his thoughts on de-linking

  • Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, has set out his vision for transforming financial remedy procedure in his latest View from the President's Chambers

    After describing financial remedies as the 'Cinderella of family justice', given his justifiable focus on public child law over the last few years, he sets out his core ambition to improve significantly "both the application of procedural justice and the delivery of substantive justice".

    He is looking to achieve this ambition through the following initiatives:

    Implementing Financial Remedy Courts
    A cadre of specialist judges will be appointed to the long proposed Financial Remedies Court (FRC) with early allocation of a case to the "right judge at the right level at the right place" and the application and enforcement of standard directions and interim orders promoting consistency and efficiency

    The key features of the FRCs are that: 

    • they will deal with all types of financial remedy cases dealt with in the Family Court or Family Division: claims for ancillary and other relief under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973; claims under Schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989; claims under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984; and, in due course,  claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and claims under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA).
    • there will be a number of regional hubs, typically two per circuit (population or geography may require more), at which both the administration (HMCTS) and the judicial leadership for the relevant hub area are based
    • there will be a lead judge for each hub area: this must be a judge (either a Circuit Judge or a District Judge) with real experience/expertise in financial remedy work.
    • Mostyn J will be the national lead judge and his deputy will be HHJ Hess
    • hearings will be conducted (a) at the regional hub and also (b) at a number of Financial Remedies Hearing Centres (FRHCs) within the hub area. Parties will still be able to request, for good reason, that a particular hearing takes place at a court other than a FRHC.
    • only 'ticketed' judges will sit in the FRC. All District Judges and Circuit Judge currently in post who do this work, and wish to continue to do so, will be 'grandfathered' in.
    • the FRC will function quite separately from the Regional Divorce Centres. Applications for a financial remedy, including for ancillary relief, will be issued at the FRC hub, not at the Regional Divorce Centre.

    FRCs will be piloted in a rolling programme starting with 3 areas in February or March 2018: London, the West Midlands and South-East Wales. Further pilots will follow after Easter 2018 on a rolling programme, starting with the remainder of the Midland Circuit, the North-Eastern Circuit and at least parts of the South-Eastern Circuit.

    The pilot will involve use of a new universal Form A and a similarly a revised Form E.

    De-linking money and divorce
    While the President acknowledges some of the concerns raised against the suggestion that the question in the petition relating to financial claims should be removed, he wishes to press ahead as follows:

    • Retain the financial question in the petition.
    • Insert a corresponding question in the AoS
    • In all other respects de-link – so that the amended Form A would refer back, where applicable, to the fact that the application has been flagged up / made in the petition / AoS

    Wider reporting of small and medium financial remedy cases
    With specialist financial remedy judges in place, the President would like to see greater reporting of judgments in small and medium cases to 

    "promote transparency and consistency…… An increase in transparency will result in increased predictability of outcome, which in turn should lead to a higher rate of settlement or, for those cases that do not settle, a reduced rate of appeals"

    The full View, along with the revised Form A, can be downloaded from Judiciary website here.

News, published: 23/01/2018


Published: 23/01/2018


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