The judge, whose name is HHJ Wildblood and is based in Bristol, asked for the judgment to be published to try to get across to parents that the court lists/work is being filled with hearings over small points that should not need any court involvement. He estimated his court would have double the number of outstanding private law cases in January 2021 that it had in January 2020. He said ‘The message that we wish to give is that this type of litigation should only come before a court where it is genuinely necessary.’
He also said:
‘ Judges at this court have an unprecedented amount of work. We wish to provide members of the public with the legal service that they deserve and need. However, if our lists are clogged up with this type of unnecessary, high conflict private law litigation, we will not be able to do so.
 To further explain the problem, I give these examples of similar requests for micro-management that have arisen before me in the past month: i) At which junction of the M4 should a child be handed over for contact? ii) Which parent should hold the children’s passports (in a case where there was no suggestion that either parent would detain the children outside the jurisdiction? iii) How should contact be arranged to take place on a Sunday afternoon? Other judges have given me many other, similar examples.
 Therefore, the message in this judgment to parties and lawyers is this, as far as I am concerned. Do not bring your private law litigation to the Family court here unless it is genuinely necessary for you to do so. You should settle your differences (or those of your clients) away from court, except where that is not possible. If you do bring unnecessary cases to this court, you will be criticised, and sanctions may be imposed upon you. There are many other ways to settle disagreements, such as mediation.’
As I have said, this judge is based in Bristol but what he is saying holds true for all of the family courts across England and Wales. There are huge backlogs (see my previous article in ‘News & Views’) and it is getting worse. There have been similar messages given in earlier cases that the court should not be parenting children and the adults involved in their lives need to be able to negotiate a way to do that.
The judge refers to mediation as a method for solving disputes. That gives you both the control and choice over the plans you made. Another option is arbitration where you really do need a third party to decide but do not want to have the horrendous cost and delay involved in that. Delay really does take an emotional toll on a family, however much it might seem like a good idea at the time to make someone wait.
If you need help in resolving your family matters, contact me.