The new court will be trialled next year in a limited number of areas, starting with London, South Wales and the West Midlands. The announcement was made by Sir James Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, who has long been in favour of ‘de-linking’ divorce and money in the UK court system. His announcement outlined how the new courts will work during the pilot scheme, as summarised by Monidipa Fouzder in The Law Society Gazette:
“Each circuit will typically have two regional hubs, headed by a lead judge expert in financial remedy work.
“Hearings will be conducted at the regional hubs and some financial remedies hearing centres within the hub area. 'Ticketed judges' will initially deal with ancillary relief cases. The work will eventually extend to all financial remedy cases dealt with in the family court or family division. District and circuit judges who currently do financial remedy work will be 'grandfathered' in.
“The courts will function separately from the regional divorce centres. They will initially handle paper files. However, HM Courts & Tribunals Service 'is already working on...a fully digitised model'.”
Why create a new court?
The aim of the Financial Remedies Court is to speed up and streamline the UK’s divorce courts, to make the process of getting divorced quicker and more efficient. By separating those cases involving complex financial disputes, particularly those involving disputes between wealthy couples with vast estates in the UK and overseas, from cases where there are no disputes over money – it is hoped that it could speed the system up for everyone.
Family and divorce courts can also place a greater priority on cases involving domestic abuse and other emergency situations, without the strain on time and resources from financial disputes that can drag on for months. A specialist court for financial matters will result in dedicated attention to achieve quicker resolutions for divorcing couples, while the family courts can do the same for all other cases.
Some reports have described the move as creating ‘courts for the super wealthy’, but not all financial claims heard in the Financial Remedies Court will be high value ones. Any dispute involving finances can be heard in these courts. However, it is worth mentioning that cases involving super wealthy couples are often the most complex to resolve, sometimes taking years or even decades, along with teams of divorce solicitors and millions of pounds, in order for a settlement to be reached. Taking these cases out of the family courts to free up time and resources can only be a positive move for all involved.
If you are facing divorce and want expert advice on how this change may affect you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Tracey Miller Family Law, expert divorce solicitors in Liverpool.