Family courts being ‘overwhelmed’ by children’s services cases, says senior judge

Family courts are overwhelmed with applications from council social services bosses wanting decisions relating to the care of children, a senior judge has said.

Judges are often under extreme time pressure when giving rulings, Lady Justice King says.

She said judges at all levels are often moving from one trial to the next without time to write rulings.

Lady Justice King, who sits in the Court of Appeal and used to be based in the Family Division of the High Court, has outlined her thoughts in a ruling on an appeal court case.

The appeal court judges had been asked to consider a number of issues in a case centred on the care of a baby who suffered unexplained skull fractures.

A judge based at a family court in Lancaster had initially considered the case.

“Judgments in care cases are often given by a judge under immense time pressure,” said Lady Justice King.

“The family court is overwhelmed with care cases.

“Judges at all levels often move seamlessly from one trial to the next without judgment writing time between them.”

Other senior judges have raised similar concerns.

In November, Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, said a number one priority is plainly to understand the “unprecedented” rise in the number of care cases.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Kate Collins / PA Wire.

Share On: