Family Justice Council responds to Court Service budget crisis

05 SEP 2008

The Family Justice Council has responded to the letter published yesterday from Lord Justice Leveson, warning of a £90 million shortfall in the budget for the justice system, as reported in Newswatch yesterday.

Family Justice Council member and District Judge Nick Crichton said: "The Family Justice Council has previously highlighted its concerns about the increase in court fees, as have others, and it welcomes Lord Justice Leveson's letter for bringing the issue to wider attention.

"The Council believes that the substantial increase in fees for public family law cases, which came into effect on 1st May, is the wrong way to finance the family courts, especially with regards to care proceedings.

"We are concerned that children experiencing chronic neglect may have to wait longer before action is taken. Substantial court fees can act as a disincentive for local authorities to take care proceedings in a timely manner and will increase the incidence of cases where action is taken too slowly.

"Our view is that care proceedings should be exempt from the policy of full cost recovery. Local authorities initiate these proceedings for the protection of children as part of their public and statutory duties."

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