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Nuffield Family Justice Report

The Nuffield Report just published after consultation with professional court users and the public will be receiving much press today.

The findings come as no surprise to practitioners used to navigating an under funded resource which has seen rapid growth in private ADR alternatives.

Particularly in children cases, where some say the voice of the child should be given greater opportunity to be heard, it is vital that the parents fully understand the proceedings and feel that their voices and concerns have been properly listened to and given weight. It is also essential that they feel engaged in the process, if orders are to be made which have lasting effect and properly address the overriding welfare of the children.   

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the introduction of social distancing measures, the family courts in England and Wales have rapidly adapted to using telephone and video hearings. In the two-week period between 23 March and 6 April 2020 audio hearings across all courts and tribunals in England and Wales (not only in family courts) increased by over 500%, and video hearings by 340%. In light of this significant change, the President of the Family Division asked the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (Nuffield FJO) to undertake a rapid consultation on the use of remote hearings in the family court.