Austerity and LASPO have proved a major threat to access to justice. They also offer a unique opportunity to do things differently within the family justice system. This articles sketches some ideas for the reform of family justice, particularly private law children, drawing heavily on proposals for reform of civil justice as well as existing empirical research about effective interventions in family justice.
The article proposes a three-stage model. Stage 1 envisages an online platform to provide a set of tools to enable individuals to self-diagnose their issue and find solutions without issuing proceedings. If not, Stage 2 provides for conciliation by Cafcass officers for suitable cases.Stage 3 adjudication would be reserved for cases not settling in conciliation as well as cases fast-tracked to adjudication from Stage 2.These suggestions are based on far greater use of technology, streaming work to those with the appropriate skills and experience and working with what we know about the behaviour of family justice‘customers’. The heavy reliance on getting the technology right, and a digital divide, are real concerns. However, doing nothing and allowing a systemdesigned by and for lawyers to struggle onwards post-LASPO without lawyers is simply not an option.