HM Courts and Tribunals Service faces backlog

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has published new statistics which once again highlight the unacceptable delays and backlog of cases faced by the family courts.

In September the backlog was sitting at 110,425 cases – a 2% month-on-month increase. When compared with September 2021 this is also a striking increase of 6.4% from the figure of 103,790 cases. This is, of course, leading to delays.

Any S8 Order application (Child Arrangements Orders, Specific Issue Orders, Prohibited Steps Orders) is on average taking 43 weeks from Receipt of the application to Final Order. Whilst this is actually a drop of two full days from August, it remains 2.8 days – or 7% – longer than it took last September.

With cases taking nearly a full year to complete, the impact on families can be devastating. The delay and backlog is something Law Society President Lubna Shuja finds unacceptable and says the Society is “extremely concerned about the effect delays and backlogs in the family courts are having on people seeking justice. The ones who are impacted by this delay the most are families up and down the country. Some are dealing with deeply distressing issues – securing a child arrangement order, seeking protection from domestic abuse and controlling behaviour, or finalising a divorce.”

Shuja called on the government to act now by equipping the courts – and its users – properly:  “The UK government must ensure, so far as possible, that there are sufficient fee-paid and full-time judges to deal with existing and new caseloads.  There also continues to be a high number of litigants in person (LiPs) – people without representation in the courts system.  This is no surprise since cuts to legal aid have driven up the number of people who have no choice but to represent themselves through often highly stressful and complex legal proceedings.”

At Barker Gotelee our family team strive to keep cases out of the court system and do whatever possible to resolve disputes amicably. Call us today and ask about our initial consultation process.

Tina Kingsbury is a solicitor in the family team at Barker Gotelee, solicitors in Suffolk.

Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email