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New cases in the family courts rise by 10% year-on-year in latest quarter

Public law cases have increased by 24%

There were 66,328 cases started in the family courts during the period April to June 2016. This represents a 10% on the same period last year. The figures were revealed in latest statistics published by the Ministry of Justice.

The number of public law cases started has increased by 24% over the last 12 months from 3,896 to 4,833 in April to June 2016. Similarly, the number of children involved in public law applications increased by 21% over the same period to 8,972. The President of the Family Division has commented on this increase and its consequences in his most recent View: to read it, click here. In particular, he noted that it was bound, in due course, to have effect on the time for the disposal of such cases.

The average time for the disposal of a care or supervision application made in April to June 2016 was 27 weeks, remaining steady over the past year. 60% of care or supervision proceedings were disposed of within 26 weeks, following on from the 26 week time limit introduced in the Children and Families Act 2014.

1,429 applications were made for an adoption order, down 4% from the same quarter in 2015.

The number of private law cases started in April to June 2016 has also increased, by 16% from the equivalent quarter in 2015 to 12,203. For that quarter the average time to first disposal was 13.7 weeks, down one week from the equivalent quarter in 2015.

The average time for the disposal of divorce cases with financial remedy has been steadily increasing from 20.5 weeks at the start of 2015 to 24.9 weeks in April to June 2016.

The number of applications for domestic violence remedy orders has remained stable over the last year at around 4,700 non-molestation and 1,200 occupation applications.

Following their introduction in July 2015, there have been 77 applications and 68 orders made for Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (FGMPOs) up to the end of June 2016.

There has been a steady upward trend in the number of applications and orders made under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and a 13% increase in applications in the latest quarter from April to June 2015. Applications relating to deprivation of liberty doubled over the last 12 months from 386 made in April to June 2015 to 743 in the latest quarter.

There were 149,539 Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) in April to June 2016, the highest quarterly figure so far and up 16% on the same quarter for 2015.

In April to June 2016, neither the applicant nor respondent had legal representation in 34% of private law cases, an increase of 17 percentage points from April to June 2013. Correspondingly, the proportion of cases where both parties had legal representation dropped by 13 percentage points over the same time period.

For the MoJ's statistical release, please click here.

(edited 29/9/16)