Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hobson's Choice

H.M. Courts ServiceA client of mine recently issued an application for a contact order in the local County Court, only to have that court transfer the matter to the Family Proceedings Court. The transfer was made "upon it appearing in the Court's view that this application may be appropriately transferred to a Family Proceedings Court". This doesn't explain why the transfer was made, but I suspect that the reason was to reduce the County Court list, on the basis that the matter would be dealt with more quickly by the Family Proceedings Court. The only problem with that is that the County Court took nearly two weeks to order the transfer, then gave the parties a further 7 days to object, then my client will have to wait for the transfer to take place, and for the Family Proceedings Court to fix an initial hearing date. The Family Proceedings Court will have to deal with the matter extremely quickly if these delays are to be made up.

So it seems that choice of forum between County Court and Family Proceedings Court may in many cases be academic. Of course, why we have a choice at all is another point - if we ever get a single unified Family Court then there will be no choice.

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