As a family solicitor, I am aware of the increasing demands on the Judicial system. However, many would argue that it is not an effective solution to simply restrict the individual's access to the court system.
It is recognised that further investment in the judicial process, in monetary terms, reform and training is needed. Most people do not want to go to court, but unfortunately in some cases, court proceedings are required. There is already built in to applications for financial orders and orders regarding children, that other than in exceptional circumstances, the person making the application must first attend a 'mediation, information and advice meeting', known as a "MIAM". Following that meeting, if either party feel that mediation is not appropriate, or will not help resolve the issues in dispute, the application can then be lodged at court.
Even after the application has been issued, the court and the parties are required to consider the benefits of mediation and other available options such as arbitration during the course of the proceedings. The parties are encouraged by the court, and indeed required, to actively negotiate with each other to resolve the issues between them. More often than not, applications are concluded with an agreement, and not after contested trial.
Therefore, it is important that individuals are able to access the Judicial system, when every other option has been explored, but failed to reach a satisfactory outcome. However, it needs to be a Judicial system fit for purpose, modern and adaptable to the to the changes we are all facing. It should be the place of last resort, but a place for all to access.
Speaking to the justice committee of the House of Commons yesterday, Raab said cases involving safeguarding and domestic abuse, which constitute between 50% to 60% of the total, should continue to be heard by a judge. But most of the rest should only require an out-of-court remedy, and Raab revealed talks have begun with the senior judiciary about offering greater incentives to couples to settle dispute through alternative means.