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Speech by Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division: Domestic Abuse and the Family Court

President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane

I have now all but completed my tour round to each of the 52 DFJ (designated family judge) court centres in England and Wales. At the time of my visits over the past twelve months, around 40% of these court centres have the benefit of a PSU, now ‘Support Through Court’, unit. I have no hesitation in reporting that there is a significant qualitative difference in the service offered to litigants in person between those centres that do have a unit and those that do not.

As is well known, the Family Courts are currently experiencing the highest recorded volume of private law cases and that very many of these now involve litigants in person. It is absolutely clear to me that the support and advice that is now available to the many litigants in person whose cases are heard at a court centre where there happens to be a Support Through Court unit is invaluable. Support Through Court currently cover 20 of the 52 DFJ court centres. It is my ambition to do all that I can to support ‘Support Through Court’ to expand the provision that it is able to offer so that, eventually, its services are available to every litigant in person in every court centre, should they wish to use them. It seems to me reasonable to invite each of the main private client Family Law firms and barristers’ chambers to consider making a modest annual contribution to enable Support Through Court to achieve this goal and provide these extremely valuable facilities throughout England and Wales.

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