England and Wales’ most senior family judge launches review into the Family Courts
Sir Andrew McFarlane, the President of the Family Division, has launched a review into the Family Courts.
The review comes amid an explosion in the number of cases coming before the Family Courts, with applications from social services departments having increased by 25 per cent since 2016. Meanwhile, last year, there were more than 53,000 new private cases involving more than 123,000 children – an all-time high.
A key aim of the consultation is to identify which cases are suitable for mediation or dispute resolution and can, therefore, be handled without needing to come to court.
Sir Andrew McFarlane said: “The system is… trying to run up a down escalator. Everyone is working flat-out but delays are creeping into the system.”
The review is expected to report in the autumn.
Employment Tribunal waiting times increase to eight months
The waiting time for cases to be heard at Employment Tribunal has risen to eight months, new figures have revealed.
This is the fourth consecutive year that waiting times have risen with the wait from lodging a claim to a case being heard now standing at 237 days.
At the same time, the number of Employment Tribunal claims has risen by more than a quarter over the last year to reach 35,430.
The increases follow the abolition in 2017 of fees in respect of Employment Tribunal claims, which were ended after a landmark Supreme Court decision.
Meanwhile, a report published recently by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Whistleblowing said that some whistleblowers found that cases were taking as long as 36 months to reach their conclusion.
New figures show that a quarter of estates paying Inheritance Tax (IHT) are investigated by HMRC
The response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request has revealed that as many as one in four estates that are liable for IHT are investigated each year.
In 2018-19, more than 5,500 investigations were launched by HMRC into the approximately 22,000 estates that had to pay the tax.
Despite the introduction of the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) effectively increasing the IHT threshold when a main residence is left to a direct descendent, the number of investigations has increased by 7.8 per cent since 2017.
The figures come in the same month that the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) unveiled proposals to simplify IHT, which is widely regarded as overly complicated and difficult to understand.