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The latest statistics published by the Ministry of Justice show the impact that Covid-19 has had on the family court.
From the Statistician's comment: "The impacts of Covid-19 can be seen in the relatively low volume of cases across most areas of family justice this quarter. During the initial Covid response, administrative and judicial resource was a significant challenge, resulting in a number of courts suspending operations for a period. This led to unprecedented falls in volumes, and substantial changes to timeliness measures. The exception to this general trend is for domestic violence remedy cases, which saw substantial increases in both new cases starting and cases that reached a final disposal – up 24% and 36% respectively and both are at record levels since the published time series began."
Decreases in both the number of cases started and cases disposed of in Family Courts
In April to June 2020, 56,867 new cases started in family courts, down 13% on the equivalent quarter in 2019. This was due to decreases in most case types: financial remedy (30%), matrimonial (18%), adoption (24%), private law (7%), and public law (4%) cases. However, there was an increase in domestic violence case starts (24%).
There were 46,740 case disposals in April to June 2020, down 16% on the equivalent quarter of 2019. This was due to decreases in most case types again: adoption (51%), private law (48%), public law (30%), and financial remedy (18%) cases. However, there was an increase in domestic violence (36%) case disposals.
The number of public law case starts and cases disposed has fallen
There were 4,452 public law cases starting in April to June 2020, down 4% compared to the equivalent quarter in 2019. Cases disposed were down 30% to 2,919.
Average time for care proceedings continues upward trend
The average time for a care and supervision case to reach first disposal was 36 weeks in April to June 2020, up 3 weeks from the same quarter in 2019 and the highest average since mid-2013. 34% of these care proceedings were disposed of within the 26-week limit introduced in the Children and Families Act 2014, down 7 percentage points from the same period last year.