The National Board set up to improve the performance of the Family Justice System and chaired by Government Ministers had not met for 17 months until recently, the President of the Family Division has revealed.

For this critical co-ordinated body not to be functioning at a time of crisis “is a disaster”, Lord Justice Andrew McFarland declared.

McFarland takes over from Sir James Munby as Family Division chief next month and was speaking at an event to unveil the findings of a cross sector review, funded by the foundation, into the crisis of children and social care.

The Court of Appeal Judge said Munby was “right to blow the whistle when he did” two years ago, over the significant rise in number of care applications being received by the Courts.

Judges are dealing with a higher number of private law applications as well as an increase of public law work load. Pre-proceedings work under public law orders are seen to be the entrance lobby to the Court route where the Local Authority are doing no more than ticking a box or using the process to gather evidence rather than making a genuine effort to deliver a wakeup call to parents and divert them from the Court process.

Family Justice Boards are essential to the system operating well. The Family Justice Board is chaired by the Ministry of Justice and Department for education. There are 3 sub-groups: the Family Justice Council, Family Justice Young People’s Board and a performance sub-group. McFarland said that the Performance sub group is the only arm that is active.

 He is quoted as saying “ for this decline to be reversed immediately, is, to my mind, a no brainer”.

 If you feel aggrieved by the Family Justice system, please contact any of our specialist family advisors in any one of our offices at Boston, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding, Newark or Grantham.

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