Thu, 06 Jun 2019
The Financial Remedy Court Pilot Scheme is to be expanded to Worcester, Hereford and Stoke in relation to new applications for financial remedies issued from 1st June 2019. Practitioners are invited to attend a meeting at the Shire Hall, Worcester on Thursday 23rd May at 5pm when HHJ Rowland, the Lead Judge for the West Midlands, will explain how the scheme operates and answer questions.
Below is a circular giving a brief explanation of the Scheme and the Gatekeeping and Allocation Certificate which you will be asked to complete and submit with any Form A. The Pilot Scheme involves a gatekeeping procedure at the outset and the purpose of the form is to ensure that the appropriate amount of judicial resources are devoted to each case and to enable proceedings to be heard in a court convenient to the parties.
The idea of Financial Remedy Centres (FRC’s) was first suggested by HHJ Hess and Joanna Miles in their article ‘The recognition of money work as a speciality in the family courts by the creation of a national network of Financial Remedies Units’ published in the November 2016 version of Family Law. This idea was revisited by the President of the Family Division in the President’s 17th View from Chambers published in May 2017 and a detailed suggested blueprint was laid out in a further article by HHJ Hess, HHJ O’Dwyer and Joanna Miles titled ‘Financial Remedies Courts’ published in the June 2017 edition of Family Law.
After consideration of the recommendations in the article, HMCTS worked in partnership with the President of the Family Division to pilot the creation of a FRC in Birmingham Civil and Family Justice Centre covering the majority of the West Midlands.
The focus of these pilots was to test the following features:
- The use of specialist Judiciary within the FRC
- The nomination of a FRJ for each centre to give an oversight of financial remedy work and drive forward best practice and improvements
- The creation of a team of staff dedicated to financial remedy work
- The introduction of a gatekeeping process for contested cases
- The use of centralised listing from within the FRC
- The centralisation of administration of financial remedy work
- The use of electronic working across FRCs
Following a review of the pilot in November 2018, the President of the Family Division announced further roll out of the pilot over the coming months to Liverpool, Newport, Swansea, Harrogate, Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham and the Central Family Court in London. The announcement also included further roll out of the Birmingham pilot to include Stoke on Trent and Worcester which will come into force from 1st June 2019.
FR applications made by consent at issue will continue to be dealt with at the divorce centre or in line with any alternative provisions already in place in your centre. However, if a FR application is contested or needs a hearing, the FR application will be transferred to the FRC (rather than the local Court) while the Divorce case continues at the Regional Divorce Centre.
The electronic filing system put in place for the pilot will continue to be used in Birmingham prior to the completion of the HMCTS Divorce reform project. Stakeholders are encouraged to lodge their Form A as per the instructions below and then file any subsequent documentation electronically where possible.
The HMCTS Divorce reform project is in the process of piloting an online system where financial remedy applications made by consent can be submitted by Legal Professionals via an online portal and will soon be piloting a similar system for contested financial remedy applications.
For more information or to volunteer to take part in the pilot, please contact the project team at HMCTSFinancialRemedy@justice.gov.uk
Lodging your Form A in the West Midlands
Send Form A with a complexity form to the West Midlands Divorce Unit (email address: email@example.com. Please ensure the subject line reads ‘New Form A’. Your covering letter should contain details of your PBA account or a telephone number the Divorce Unit can contact you on to take payment by credit/debit card.
The Divorce Unit will send the Form A (with complexity form) electronically to the Birmingham Administration Hub and refer to a Judge for gatekeeping /allocation
- Any subsequent correspondence or documents filed in relation to this case should be sent to the following email address in Birmingham: FRCBirmingham@justice.gov.uk .
- All ongoing, existing cases filed before 1st June 2019 will continue to be case managed at the County Court where the matter is currently held – All correspondence and lodging documents for these cases should continue to be sent direct to the local hearing centre managing that case.
Paper bundles for the hearing should be filed at the identified hearing centre – these should be taken away with you following the hearing.
Dates of availability should be brought with you on the day of the hearing to enable parties to leave the building with a confirmed date of next hearing.
Feedback and queries
We thank you for your support and co-operation. If you have any feedback or queries regarding these changes please do not hesitate to contact us via email: FRCBirmingham@justice.gov.uk