Over the past week I heard with interest the comments made by the President of the High Court Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, in relation to the epidemic of Care Cases that are currently before the Courts.
McFarlane appeared to state that
“Local Authorities were seeking Care or Supervision Orders from the Courts in cases that would previously would have been handled without judicial intervention”
These are interesting comments as it would appear that there is now a keen interest to identify the reasons behind the sharp increase of care applications being made, indeed, 14,000 applications have been made in each of the last two years.
It is encouraging to see that the President is looking at reducing this number as Lawyers and Judges alike cannot continue to cope with this pressure.
Other reasons that were provided as to why more applications are being bought is the attitude of inevitability some Social and Local Authority Workers have regarding the process, many social workers see pre-proceedings measures as part of the Court process rather than a preventive measure to stop proceedings being issued, this would seem to support McFarlane’s statement that proceedings are being issues where previously they were not.
In summary, it is pleasing to see the problems identified with the current process and the admission of what many advocates have struggled with for a long time and it is very interesting that McFarlane has preferred a hands-on approach of visiting 42 Courts around the country to take views from all around the nation. However, it will be even more interesting to see if the diagnosing of the problems shall lead to solutions being proposed because, after all, McFarlane is only currently developing his thoughts.
I would hope to see some action in relation to all of these issues as the current situation is unsustainable as admitted by Judges and Solicitors alike. I await with eagerness any solutions that are proposed, but the early signs are rather encouraging.