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Entries in court costs (1)

Tuesday
Feb032015

Alarming costs and delays in some court contact actions

A survey was issued in December to a sample of 300 of the people who made enquiries to FNFS in 2014 to gather experiences for our student intern  project on party litigants.   An interim report has been compiled on the findings after the first 76 replies.   The survey is still open – see https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/partylitigantsurveyFNFS

The results were particularly surprising in regards of the amount of money spent on legal action, and the large number of Child Welfare Hearings attended spread out over a long period of time.   Although this is a very biased sample drawn from high conflict family court cases, it is still alarming that such cases take so long and cost so much.

48% of respondents spent over £10,000 on their cases on legal action raised in order to attempt to arrange contact with their child. In some of the more severe cases, over £100,000 has been spent over a period of many years.  Some respondents when asked at what stage they were at of legal action responded, “Financially drained, cannot afford legal action,” and speak of the legal process being, “Exhausted.” It is apparent that many of them are considering restarting court action due to orders breaking down.

Some respondents on further questioning spoke of taking out loans in order to pay for their legal fees and also having to turn to becoming Party Litigants, after spending a significant amount of money without getting any further forward.  Even as a party litigant, costs will still be high.

The average number of hearings attended by the respondents is eight and the average length of time spent in legal action was 34 months.  One person experiencing legal action over 15 years and another person had attended court for 46 hearings.

26% of respondents have acted as party litigants and 10% of respondents are currently considering going it alone.  Although there are only a few people acting without lawyers in family cases, we think that the number of party litigants in Scotland is increasing.

These findings will help our student intern Rebecca Sibbald to carry out some training for party litigants and produce a film about going to court.  Thanks to all who responded.