Further details have emerged of government plans to move more divorce work online as part of efforts to modernise the justice system.
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that Nottingham’s East Midlands regional divorce centre is to host a pilot scheme allowing certain proceedings for a matrimonial order to be filled in via the web. A practice direction, establishing the pilot, was published last week.
It states that future practice directions will establish other pilot schemes ‘which will allow for later stages in matrimonial proceedings to take place via the online system, for example making the application online’.
The government’s Transforming our justice system consultation paper, published in September, stated that work had already begun to allow divorce applications to be made and managed online, ‘removing some of the bureaucracy from often stressful and lengthy proceedings and simplifying cumbersome administrative processes’.
The initial pilot will apply to applications where five conditions are met, including that the application is filed in the period commencing 25 January 2017 and ending 28 July 2017. The application must be for a matrimonial order which is a decree of divorce made under section 1 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
The application must be started in the family court.
Once the application has been generated, the applicant will need to save or print off the generated application. It will then need to be filed at court, in accordance with the procedure currently provided for in the family procedure rules and practice directions.
Commenting on the pilot, family solicitor Tony Roe, principal of Tony Roe Solicitors in Reading, said: ‘At this stage, we do not know the scale or duration of the pilot which began last week. I understand that the pilot will take the form of certain live testing which, I am told, will not be an accurate reflection of the vision for what will be made available to the general public.’