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Recovery message from the President of the Family Division

On 22 March 2021 the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, published the following letter.

"Dear All

At the beginning of the Pandemic I asked Lord Justice Baker to lead a Judicial recovery group for the Family Court. That group has worked tirelessly to plan for our return to more normal working and to ensure that best practices and current challenges have been captured for consideration when we are looking at potential longer term changes.

The Lord Chief Justice has now signalled the start of a process so that, as Covid restrictions are relaxed, a move towards more face-to-face hearings will begin, whilst at all times having due regard to considerations of safety.

I have now asked Baker LJ to focus his attention on how we achieve the most efficient return to court over the coming months, including implementing the best practices learned from remote working.

The gradual return to face-to-face hearings will not be the end of remote working, indeed some form of remote working is likely to be required for the foreseeable future and we have learned that, in some cases, remote working is the most efficient way of dealing with some hearings. The aim is to get the balance right and this period of review is plainly very important.

To ensure that the process of review encompasses all of the work of the Family Court, Baker LJ has expanded his group to include a representative for the Financial Remedies Courts: HHJ Stuart Farquhar.

It is essential that family continues to collaborate with civil and other jurisdictions, and Baker LJ will be working closely with Simler LJ who is leading a similar project in the civil jurisdiction.

Over the coming weeks Baker LJ will be contacting many of you to ask for feedback, ideas and volunteers to assist with this work.

I am most grateful to him and to you, for your continued support.

Many thanks

Andrew"

26/3/21