At his recent opening speech of Resolution's conference - which was taking place remotely due to the global pandemic - the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, praised those in the Family Justice System for their continued efforts during the current global situation.
The President comments on how the courts were returning to pre-pandemic levels, stating that some courts had no backlog and in the four weeks up to 23rd August 2020, the courts were processing 95% of public law cases and 80% of private law cases compared to levels before the pandemic.
Although commenting that the global situation had "accelerated by years" the use for remote working and hearings, the President said he would "fight any suggestion" that all hearings should be dealt with remotely, indicating that any hearings engaging families and beyond, a short 15 minute directions hearing should return to being face-to-face and attended hearings.
The President also confirmed he had no intention of issuing any further guidance beyond the current Nuffield Family Observatory consultation on remote hearings which is currently pending, to which 1,000 responses have been received. The results for this consultation should be published shortly over the next few weeks.
However, McFarlane said these achievements came at a cost: ‘It is stressful working remotely. It is more tiring than when undertaking cases in the ordinary way… To face engaging in this way for another six months, it saps your morale, particularly if you are already knackered by what you have given so far.’