Scary Stats

Wanna see some scary stats? Here you go. I’ve prettified them but still best to view them through your fingers or by peering round the side of the sofa just in case.

pictochart

Post script : I posted this late in the evening and in the aftermath of a near tantrum following an hour fiddling with the software to make the above chart. Hence, I did not have the wit to identify my source. Which was some stats circulated by our local DFJ and which originate from CAFCASS (not the court). The stats relate to s8 applications (contact and residence) and show variously cases where “one party has a solicitor”, “both parties have a solicitor” and “neither party has a solicitor”. That begs the question “What about cases involving more than two parties, e.g. those with a Guardian or a grandparent – the former is likely to involve at least one lawyer but I’m not sure if they are included in the stats or not.

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16 thoughts on “Scary Stats

  1. Hi Familoo,

    I have been close to the legal system for a long time and it is entirely embarrassing to me that I am now a ‘professional McKenzie friend’ if ever there were such a thing.

    I need not exist, nor should I exist. I can assure you I am not trying to do the job of those otherwise better qualified. I am not supporting a political group. I have, over the years, been approached for advice by people left feeling all alone and have done my best to help them. This has become so obscene it has now become impossible to do this for free.

    I have helped people with learning difficulties who have had a nay on LA, accordingly struggled with those who speak little English. People who are having a hard time with their dissolved relationships over contact and residency where there actually may be serious issues but they fear the interventions of Social Services.

    I actually received a telephone call from the LSC today asking me why I was recommending to people who approach me (they called clients) that they apply on the above-mentioned basis????

    I was very cross at this to be very polite about it. I asked them if they understood the English tradition of fairness in law which still brings enormous arbitration cases for example, had somehow changed. They hung up on me. Are they a EDL activists? I am grossly concerned. What on earth is going on?

  2. What that needs is some other measures to show the consequences of this for the parties and the children. Such as outcomes (e.g. whether the initiating applications are granted), number of hearings, time from application to final hearing, satisfaction ratings of the parties, length of hearing and some judicial rating of the case…. that I can’t quite focus on at the moment. All balanced against some control group.

    Otherwise, speaking as a lawyer mind, it just means that there’s less work for lawyers.

    • I know Norma, but it’s a good deal more informative than anything made available by the MoJ… Am just editing it by the way since I failed to explain the source originally…

  3. […] Lots more people are representing themselves in the family courts [Pink Tape] […]

  4. The figures, assuming statistical significance, suggest a solution around making representation made more affordable to litigants.

    The only other people I know of who can afford rates of £250 an hour plus Vat on a never-ending clock are luxury yacht owners.

  5. Since this can’t be the economic downturn, this must be since Legal Aid was restricted to only those cases where domestic abuse is alleged.

    Have you got the stats for the number of cases where domestic abuse is alleged? I wonder if that went up at the same time. Can you give a reference to the raw data?

    As has been previously stated, this is meaningless unless it measures outcomes. Are Cafcass collecting statistics on representation, but not outcomes? What’s the point of that?

    We should be very careful as Cafcass are little more than a government department and government statistics can’t be relied upon, or so I’m told (by people who don’t like the statistics the government produces).

    • All I have you have. I have two tables, one with the absolute numbers that underly the beautified line chart, and one with the percentages for the same thing. I don’t have stats about dv. I don’t know if CAFCASS have published this data on their site or if it can be cross referenced with other data about dv allegations. I would guess they’d record it when they do schedule 2 checks – might be a good FOI request to make.
      I don’t know if they are measuring outcomes, although I think historically they are. Whether they are tracking outcomes by reference to date of *issue* I don’t know.
      The data does have some value even in the absence of those other items you sensibly ask for. It tells CAFCASS for example that their workload is likely to go up – their role in an “unlawyered” case is rather different. It does point towards a situation where people are “choosing” to be LiPs rather than paying privately for work that would previously have been covered under legal aid (and a situation where they are “choosing” litigation over other dispute resolution methods).
      I don’t know how reliable the data is – its only as good as the process by which it is recorded. I’ve highlighted some gaps or grey areas with the data myself.

  6. Contact Centres very often won’t accept self-referrals from LiPs. Are they going to become less popular as a first resort whenever allegations are made, or will they open up to LiPs and stop treating them as 2nd class citizens?

  7. I think the main difficulty with Cafcass stats is that Cafcass, like many other government agencies, measure only those things that are easy to measure: numbers of cases, time to first engagement, duration of cases, that sort of stuff. At the time I left Cafcass over three years ago Cafcass were not taking stats on outcomes, just the duration of case. They were keener to measure output rather than outcomes possibly because that is a much easier exercise.

    A further criticism I had was how detached the stats were from the reality of the experience. There was no attempt to grade the complexity of a case. Some resolve easily whilst others go on for years. There is no acknowledgement that a case that returns to court is a continuing conflict. Those cases will be counted as two separate cases. Your stats certainly present a worrying turn of events but they don’t shed any light on the efficacy family proceedings or Cafcass’s part in it. The numbers simply record the turnover rather than whether the system is delivering the goods to families and especially kids.

  8. Olivia FitzGerald

    I am a researcher, currently focussing on ‘implacable hostility. It would appear that LIP’s are merely a group of individuals who a) unable to afford litigation and b) have no other recourse in order to obtain regularised contact. Whilst we all applaud the notion of mediation or alternative dispute resolution, or whatever name we give it, we are ignoring the fact that it is only court that can make a reluctant ex partner attend the building. It would be interesting to know how many of the LIP’s tried to engage with mediation before paying their application fee. There is also a rumour that the application fee will rise to £750.00 – any information re that would be most helpful!

    • You seem to assume all LiPs are parents seeking contact. Some are not. An increasing number are resident parents resisting applications for contact or residence.

      The glib answer to your question about mediation numbers is “not many”. Mediation has nosedived since legal aid was abolished because the referral route has been severed. That in itself is a disaster, although I accept what you say about mediation being unhelpful in some entrenched cases.

      The rumour about the court fee is wrong. A consultation has just closed on the topic of court fees (see here: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/court-fees-proposals-for-reform) – the proposal is for s8 court fees to remain at £215. The proposal that mentions £750 is the divorce petition fee, which is entirely unconnected to applications for contact (but it is prohibitively high and hopefully the consultation responses will persuade the MoJ that it is a figure that should be abandoned).

  9. This is raw data but also raw truth. Put it this way – before the cut in legal aid a child in the centre of these kind of disputes was more likely to see both their parents/parties represented by a solicitor than neither of them. By this data, within 10 months they are 10 times as likely to see neither represented than both. That is bound to put huge pressure on Cafcass, lead to longer to resolve cases and more human tragedy all round. I hope everyone with an interest in justice does press for further examination of the human cost of these short sighted cuts.

  10. We don’t have the raw numbers, we just have a percentage. From these figures we don’t actually know if the number of cases has gone up or down. To understand if Cafcass’ workload has changed we need to know if there are more or less cases and whether they are more or less complex. If the MoJ is saying the duration of cases is going down, and the number of cases stays the same, then Cafcass should have less work.

    • Sorry, the numbers I have are these :
      These are numbers of s8 cases recorded by CAFCASS – I take these to be numbers of cases issued not live.
      Dec-12 2,788
      Jan-13 3,591
      Feb-13 3,674
      Mar-13 3,650
      Apr-13 3,999
      May-13 4,656
      Jun-13 3,840
      Jul-13 4,153
      Aug-13 3,604
      Sep-13 3,453
      Oct-13 3,543
      Nov-13 3,117
      Dec-13 2,605
      CAFCASS Actually publish these each month on their site. Overall case numbers are up since April 2013, but there was a massive 27% spike and they have since dipped in the last couple of months.
      Workload for CAFCASS will be more complex than just the number of cases. Some cases will require more intensive input from CAFCASS without lawyers, even if duration is not too great.

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