Court Statistics: The Good, the Bad and the Interesting

The Ministry of Justice has published its latest statistics for the family court, for the quarter April to June 2023.

The statistics include some news that is good, some that is not so good, and some that is neither good nor bad, but is certainly interesting.

Reduced court workload

Under the ‘good’ category, the statistics indicate a welcome reduction in the workload of the family courts, with fewer cases being started in most case types and more cases being dealt with by the courts in most case types.

For example, there were 13,080 new private law applications (i.e. cases involving disputes between parents over arrangements for their children) made in April to June 2023, which was down 4% on the equivalent quarter in 2022.

And there were 9,546 financial remedy cases disposed of by the courts, which was up 15% on the same quarter last year.

Cases taking longer

But the news was not all good.

For example, the statistics indicated that private children cases have been taking quite a lot longer.

In April to June 2023, it took on average 47 weeks for private law cases to reach a final order, i.e. case closure, which is up almost 3 weeks from the same period in 2022.

This continues an upward trend seen since the middle of 2016, when the number of new cases overtook the number of disposals.

Divorce under the new law

Lastly, in the ‘neither good nor bad, but interesting’ category we have the latest statistics in relation to divorce under the new ‘no-fault’ system introduced in April last year.

The statistics perhaps show how the new law will affect divorce long-term, now that things have ‘settled down’ following the law change.

The statistics show that in April to June 2023 there were 24,624 applications made for divorce and dissolution of civil partnerships. This is down 30% from the same period last year, when cases rose due to people waiting for the new law before issuing proceedings.

The figure is interesting because some feared that the new law, making divorce simpler, would lead to an increase in the number of divorces long-term. However, this appears not to be happening, as the new figure is similar, or even lower, than those under the old law.

Also of interest is the statistic that 25% of all divorce applications in the quarter were made jointly by the husband and the wife. The new law made joint divorce applications possible for the first time, and they are obviously likely to help reduce animosity on divorce.

The full statistics can be found here.

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