ENGLAND – Cafcass reports private law applications reaching record highs ahead of legal aid changes

Cafcass expects a short-term decrease in applications

Cafcass has continued to see high levels of private law cases in March, with 4,001 new applications passed to Cafcass. This is a 1% increase on March 2012 levels. Cafcass received a total of 45,881 new private law cases between April 2012 and March 2013. This figure shows an increase of 10% on the 41,817 cases received in 2011/12.

Cafcass says that there has been a surge in new applications which appears to be linked to the legal aid changes, which were implemented on 1st April. Most of the increase over the preceding year occurred between April and October 2012 rather than in recent months.

Cafcass Chief Executive Anthony Douglas said:

“These changes may present a positive opportunity for couples to settle their differences outside of court via mediation services, as promoted by the Government.

“However, as a result of this surge, we will be seeing more people unrepresented in the family courts. There is some concern that this may lead to longer case duration. Cafcass is going to monitor the impact of this increase to ensure that children are kept at the centre of proceedings: long, drawn out cases are never in the best interests of a child.”

Cafcass expects to see a drop in applications over the first few months of the 2013/14 financial year, following the changes. Based on patterns observed from previous policy changes within the family justice system, it is anticipated that levels will normalise after that.

The figures are available here.


SOURCE: Family Law Week

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