Thursday Thoughts : You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone by Alison Harbour

Better out than in. Alison Harbour from Harney and Wells solicitors in Brighton lets it go!


The family court system is under huge and very possible terminal strain. The President puts pressure on the judiciary and the judiciary puts pressure on The Bar and solicitors where the buck firmly stops.

Day after day we go to court to be criticised for one “failing” after another as the Judge’s strive to adhere to disposing of cases in 26 weeks. Disposal rates are the Holy Grail. My local family court is fifth worst in the country in the disposal rate statistics, so you can imagine how that ups the ante!

Courts encourage solicitors to report any failure by parties to stick to Court timetables. When you write to my local court the email comes back that your letter will be dealt with in 15 working days. There is no one you can telephone to sort out something quickly. You cannot see anyone in the Court office without an appointment.

Solicitors acting for parents strive to get their clients to keep appointments and approve statements etc. This is often hugely problematic for parents whose lives are falling apart. They often have no credit on their phones and don’t have the money to travel to the office. Some have literacy and learning difficulties. If a client fails an appointment e.g. to prepare a Response to Threshold, that appointment needs to be rearranged quickly which has a domino effect on all the other appointments.

Court staff are overworked, underpaid and demoralised. Every query has to be made in the form of a C2 Application. This is a good wheeze to get the court fee but it adds to the administrative burdens. It is also well-nigh impossible to obtain a response.

I could go on. I wish I could say I feel better for unburdening myself, but I don’t.




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