Call for specialist magistrates slated

Plans to introduce a specialist cadre of family magistrates have been criticised for implying magistrates do not currently have the confidence of other professionals in the family courts.

A consultation paper released this week proposes magistrates specialise in family work to gain greater specialist expertise and encourage more work to be diverted to underused family proceedings courts.

It also suggests lawyers might be diverted to there from overcrowded crown courts if there were “wholly specialist” magistrates.

But Malcolm Richardson, chair of the Magistrates’ Association’s family proceedings committee said that lawyers chose not to use family proceedings courts because they were paid higher fees in the county courts.

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