The Panel was instructed to look at a wide range of factors, including the effectiveness of out-of-court and in-court processes, the timeliness of cases and the extent to which decisions are consistent with the welfare and best interests of the child. It was also asked to take a human rights approach when considering improvements, to ensure that the welfare and best interests of children are paramount when settling disputes about their care.
Investment was made in 2020 to start the reform of the Family Court and enable it to respond effectively to the increased backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the introduction of The Family Court (Supporting Families in Court) Legislation Bill on 15 May 2020. A second Bill, focused on strengthening the Family Court, was introduced on 6 August and had its first reading on 8 December.
An expanded legal aid scheme is now operational.
The first phase of a staged remuneration increase for lawyers for children has been implemented.