The Times

Exploring the trend of increasing use of private hearings and concerns over a two-tier family justice system

04 April 2022

Edward Cooke featured in the comment section of The Times on Thursday 17 March 2022, exploring the advantages of private family hearings including arbitration for separating couples, whilst also raising concerns that the judicial recruitment crisis and court delays are contributing to a two-tier system.

Acknowledging the high rates of success of private arbitration, and the benefits of the speed at which this route can resolve disputes - in weeks rather than in 12 months or more – Edward also comments on a worsening crisis in the wider justice system.

Some of the worst delays the system has experienced leave those families who are unable to afford private arbitration facing ever-increasing timeframes to juggle, with the average length of cases to final order growing from 28 to 42 weeks during the pandemic. Challenges in recruiting sufficient district judges also add to the root cause of the issue, with approximately 50% of district judge roles on the southeast circuit including London remaining vacant.