Can I complain about Court delays

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Posts: 185
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:48 pm

Can I complain about Court delays

Post by Cellbar » Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:09 am


We are being messed about by the Court - probably not intentionally, but all the same they are creating unnecessary delays in the case simply because the left hand does not know what the left hand is doing! Its been going on now for over 18 months.

We were allocated a whole day to get matters sorted, to find out when we got there we only had 30 minutes and were told nothing could be sorted out in this time so it was rescheduled again, only to have another date lodged simply to appoint a guardian (that we had asked for months prior but told we didn't need), to have another date where we were told to put in reports again to have another date scheduled now for 3 months away!! Its just ridiculous now. They are affecting our lives, the little ones life and our long term plans. One minute we need a CAFCASS report which they ignored, then we needed a S/Wkrs report which has been delayed several times only to be 'not needed' to now having to wait for a Guardians report!

We also disagreed with a Judges decision. Can we appeal this in writing along with complaining about the delays?
Grandparent Carer with SGO

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Robin D
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Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 12:58 pm

Re: Can I complain about Court delays

Post by Robin D » Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:08 am

Hi Cellbar.

Not wishing to be rude, but I'm not sure that you have the full picture? Are you self representing by any chance? The reason I say this is that court offices are generally very good although like everyone, mistakes do get made.

Usually the legal teams make recommendations to the judge on case management, and if all parties are seen to agree, that is how the case proceeds. We also had the LA apply to the court (without reference to other parties) for dates to be 'set aside' to give them more time to do things. It was only when we then applied for a directions hearing at which we put before the judge, the large number of delays, and the impact it was having, that any real attempt was made to bring the LA to book. Indeed, the judge gave them 4 weeks to do the report or she wanted the head of SS in court to explain why. I think in effect, they thought we were happy to go along with the delays!

I suggest you speak to the court office. For the 30 minute instead of a day, find out if it was there error, or if a day was requested, but then one of the parties told them only 30 minutes was required? If may have been a genuine error, but if you approach it sensitively, (I.e. You need to understand if this was a simple error or if they were asked for 30 minutes) I've always found them most helpful and open.

I'm also not sure at this point if a judge has made a decision of a 'direction'. Either way, if its significant, then it's appeal-able, so if the ruling was to place a child elsewhere while the case proceeds for example, you can argue it. Your best bet on this point is to speak to your solicitor if you have one, else, I suggest you call the advice line on 0808 801 0366 where you can be more open in the information you share. You can also discuss with them whether its possible or sensible to appeal the three month delay given the 18 months gone and the requirement in the children act for speed.

Good luck ....... Robin
Former F&F carer, foster carer, adopter and respite carer for umpteen children. Now retired and when with kids, making sure they 'go home' at the end of the day.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Can I complain about Court delays

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:53 am

Hi Cellbar,

It certainly sounds frustrating when court dates are changed or hearing times reduced. I think Robin has given very good advice about this. There are lots of reasons why the court may change the hearing times and it is usually because one of the parties has asked them to do so as they need more time. However, the local authority should have contacted you to let you know about the request and the court should have kept you informed of the changes. It is unusual for the courts to make errors but you could check they have your correct contact details.

The court should also be aware of the principle that delays in dealing with any issues about children in likely to prejudice the welfare of the child.

If a party was to make a further application to put off a hearing you could raise this principle about delay. It is section 2 of the Children Act 1989.

I hope things progress more speedily for you.

Best wishes,


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