- 07 Jan 2022
- 2 min read
Private justice is creating a two-tier justice system
As a result of the current and ongoing pandemic, Family Courts are experiencing significant difficulties in ensuring there are sufficient resources available to hear cases.
It is not uncommon in recent times for a Court hearing to be cancelled at very short notice. Unfortunately this can be due to a lack of available Judges, technical issues affecting cases being heard remotely, or a lack of available staff in Court buildings leading to the cancellation of in person hearings.
This can be extremely frustrating and disappointing to a client who has been budgeting for their legal representation and preparing themselves for a hearing, which is never an enjoyable experience in any event. Leading up to the hearing, significant work will have been undertaken on their case by their legal team, the costs of which still need to be met by the client.
Courts often double-book hearings in anticipation of one being settled by the parties through negotiation or the issues being refined so that Court time can be minimised. However, with the lack of resources due to the pandemic and the risk that a hearing is going to be pulled at short notice, clients are being encouraged to consider alternative dispute resolution options such as adopting a private hearing or arbitration in an attempt to reduce the risk of wasted costs having been incurred.
For those clients who are legally represented, this may prove to be the more cost-effective and expeditious method to resolve the dispute. However, those who are unable to afford what is effectively a “private” justice system, are left to suffer the frustrations of further delay in their case, whilst those who are able to afford the alternative dispute resolution methods can have their cases heard within a much shorter period.
As recently reported in The Times, there is a risk that the current justice resourcing issues are leading to a two-tier justice system and there are calls therefore for a complete overhaul that is fair and equitable to all. The current justice secretary, Dominic Raab has called for “drastic and bold” intervention, but with the country’s finances stretched so far, it seems doubtful that there will be reforms any time soon.
Trethowans’ Family Team are members of Resolution and take a constructive, non-confrontational approach to your individual circumstances and will seek to find the best way forward for you and your family. We are experts in alternative dispute resolution and offer a range of alternative options to Court proceedings, including mediation and collaborative law.