A LUDLOW based solicitor is highlighting a quicker, less expensive, method of resolving family law issues as courts battle to clear the backlog of cases caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

The increasing workload means court staff are under tremendous pressure to move cases through the system, with the inevitable result that sometimes there is insufficient time for a case to be completed on an allocated day or for the most appropriate level of judge to decide it, according to the lawyer.

Colin Spanner, of Lanyon Bowdler’s family law team in Ludlow, said that often results in more delays for the court and parties involved, additional costs and disappointment for clients who needed to see a satisfactory conclusion to their case as quickly as possible.

“The court service took a very difficult direct hit from the pandemic and was soon inundated with urgent cases concerning adults and young people immediately made more vulnerable by the lockdown at a time when, practically speaking, it was even harder to accommodate all those cases,” he said.

“It is quite right that the most vulnerable are prioritised, but it has required us to think inventively to minimise the impact of the delays on our clients who were waiting to have their less urgent financial and children matters decided.

“Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has been used regularly by our colleagues in civil law but the rules meant that until recently the opportunities to use it in family law were much more limited, when in fact it is ideal for the issues many of our clients face.

“Thankfully those rules have been addressed and now we have a full array of options we can offer clients for resolving their disputes whilst avoiding the potential delay and cost of court.”

Many forms of ADR are as binding as a court decision and therefore provide the same level of certainty and assurance at potentially less cost and in less time, whilst others are designed to give people a ‘taste’ of what a court might decide.