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Number of cases started in family courts in England and Wales in first quarter of 2014 shows 6% drop year on year, according to report

Date:20 JUN 2014
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Journals Manager + Online Editor

The Ministry of Justice has published the latest statistics on type and volume of cases that are received and processed through the court system of England and Wales in the first quarter of 2014 January to March.

This report presents statistics on activity in the county, family, magistrates’, Crown and other courts of England and Wales. These statistics focus on four main categories: civil cases (excluding family), family cases, criminal cases and judicial reviews. For this edition there is also additional annual information on the Appellate Courts and the Judiciary. The figures themselves give a summary overview of the volume of cases dealt with by these courts over time, with statistics also broken down for the main types of case involved. The statistics are used to monitor court workloads, to assist in the development of policy, and their subsequent monitoring and evaluation.

For this (June) edition, additional annual information is presented for 2013 including the workload in the Appellate Courts, cases under the Mental Capacity Act, workload in the Offices of the Supreme Court and numbers of magistrates and sitting days for the judiciary.

Family cases

Family cases are dealt with in England and Wales under the Children Act 1989 at Family Proceedings Courts (which are part of the Magistrates’ Courts), at County Courts or in the Family Division of the High Court. Family courts deal with matters such as: local authority intervention to protect children, issues following the breakdown of a relationship such as divorce petitions and the domestic and financial provision for children, domestic violence remedies and adoption.

In January to March 2014, divorce made up 45% of new cases in family courts, with private law contributing 19% and financial remedy 16%. In total, relationship breakdown cases account for over four-fifths of the courts’ caseload. A similar picture is also seen for the cases concluded.

Key findings for family cases include:

  • Public law: in January to March 2014 there were 3,762 new cases (fairly stable since 2011) which related to public law and 3,532 cases that reached a final disposal. The average time for the disposal of care and supervision cases was 32.0 weeks.
  • Private law: in January to March 2014, there were 12,065 private law cases started (about 11 % lower than equivalent quarters in previous years) and 13,289 cases that reached a final disposal (continuing the upward trend).
  • Divorce: there were 28,542 petitions filed for divorce and 29,197 decrees absolute made in January to March 2014.
  • Financial remedy (formerly ‘ancillary relief’): there were 10,259 cases started and 8,098 cases with a disposal in January to March 2014.
  • Domestic violence: there were 5,035 cases started and 4,711 cases with a disposal in January to March 2014.
  • Forced marriage protection: there were 29 new forced marriage protection order cases, and 28 cases concluded in January to March 2014.
  • Adoption: there were 3,447 cases started and 3,103 cases disposed, under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 in January to March 2014.

The full report is available to download here.