1. Following the successful initiation of the Financial Remedies Court project in the West Midlands (part), centred at Birmingham, I am pleased to announce a further roll-out of the pilot, albeit for the time being in modified form.
2. With effect from dates in the near future, to be agreed in each case between the relevant FRC lead judge and HMCTS (nationally and locally), the pilot, in this modified form, will be extended to:
a) East Midlands, centred at Nottingham.
b) The whole of the West Midlands (including but not limited to the part in the initial pilot).
c) Cheshire and Merseyside, centred at Liverpool (the extension of the pilot to Cheshire and Merseyside will enable the locally developed financial remedy protocol to be placed on a more formal footing and enhanced).
d) North-east (1), centred at Sheffield.
e) North-east (2), centred at Leeds.
f) North-east (3), centred at Newcastle.
g) London, centred at the CFC.
h) South-east Wales, centred at Newport.
i) South-west Wales, centred at Swansea.
The precise dates and sequence have yet to be determined, but the first are likely to be (a), (g) and (h).
3. For the time being, these further extensions will not involve the creation of any specified designated hearing centres and judges hearing financial remedy cases will not be expected to sit elsewhere than where they currently do. Cases will continue to be heard, as at present, in the premises currently used by the Family Court.
4. The precise boundaries of the pilot zones are as set out in the schedule to this circular.
5. For the time being, Forms A and applications for consent orders will continue to be processed in the regional divorce centres. The reason for this is that work is being undertaken by HMCTS to enable these applications to be issued and processed online. This work is well-advanced. I am satisfied that it would be wasteful to initiate a new, different, manual process for these applications when they are likely to be replaced by an online process in the reasonably near future.
6. As presently happens in the West Midlands (Black Country), a Form A once issued in the regional divorce centre will be transmitted to the regional hub for allocation to the right judge at the right level in the right place.
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