‘Unprecedented’ workload boom threatens WA Family Court

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The Western Australia Family Court is in danger of being overrun by so many cases that wait times for trials may be lengthened to two years.
 
Several new developments are expected to weigh on the court, a report from ABC notes, most notably the reduced ability of two judges to take on some cases.
 
Health issues has left one acting judge unable to tackle the backlog they were specifically employed to deal with. Moreover, the Court’s chief judge will no longer be available to deal with trials in Perth, the report notes.
 
Chief judge Stephen Thackray, who will increase his workload as senior judge in the Appeal Division of the federal Family Court in March, has written to the Family Law Practitioners' Association to warn of a "serious problem" for the court, ABC, which has seen the letter, reports.
 
“The pressures created by this unexpected turn of events will be exacerbated by other significant listing changes that have become necessary in the first half of 2017, some of which will affect trials already listed in January and February," he is quoted writing.
 
The new developments has left family law practitioners fearing more delays in court.
 
Michael Berry SC, president of the Family Law Practitioners' Association, told ABC that wait times for trials could be lenghtened from the already long one-and-a-half years revealed by official government data to two years.
 
He also says that the government knows there is a lack of resources which is why it had in the past allotted several acting positions for registrars, magistrates and judges. However, more than stopgap solutions are needed, he insists, because those that suffer are families and most specially children who are already in disputes.
 

Related stories:
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Federal court judges’ pay hike criticised
Call for wider implementation of NSW program reducing court delays
 

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