Family Law Hub

Flexible court hours to be piloted in two Family Courts from early Spring 2019

New scheme to be tested in Brentford & Manchester

  • Brentford and Manchester County Courts will pilot a Flexible Operating Hours (FOH) scheme from early Spring 2019.

    The pilot prospectus was published for consultation in October 2017 though an initial pilot was postponed after concerns were raised about the impact on criminal legal aid work. Criminal cases are now outside the new scheme but some civil work and some family cases will be within the scheme. 

    In Brentford the scheme will see hearings start at 8.00. From 10.30, there would be handover and change of judge. A 'normal' court day would then run with adjusted hours from 10:45-13:45 and 14:45-16:45. In another courtroom the court would run a standard court day 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:00. There would then be a handover period and a separate judge would sit a session 16:30-19:00. It is not intended that both courts would run extended sessions on every day. 

    The details of the scheme in Manchester are less clear.  Initially the pilot will have two courts sitting an additional afternoon session once a week (on a Monday) – as multiple courts on the same day will allow for more effective listing. The types of work heard in the pilot will be dependent on the ticketing of the judge and with a view to later expanding on an additional day (previously proposed to be Wednesday,

    though the LIT will now consider this further). In both courtrooms sitting the FOH pattern a Deputy District Judge would sit a half-day hearing from 10:00- 13:00. A different judge would then sit 14:00-16:00 and 16:30-19:00. The Manchester scheme will potential involve:  

    • First Hearing Direction and Appointment
    • Financial dispute appointment
    • Infant approval hearings
    • Financial dispute resolution appointment
    • Occasional urgent work which is sat at short notice – e.g. without notice non-molestation orders, urgent care applications (these are cases which would routinely be heard anyway, currently requiring a judge to stay late but can instead be heard in the pilot court when there is an appropriately ticketed judge)

    You can read more on the MoJ website.

News, published: 19/11/2018

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Published: 19/11/2018

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