HC Deb 21 June 1935 vol 303 cc709-10W

asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that when the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice rose for the Whitsuntide vacation there were 577 undefended and 244 defended matrimonial cases included in the list for Easter sittings remaining undisposed of and that the arrears have increased substantially during the last 12 months, and what steps the Government proposed to take to remedy this?


At the beginning of the Whitsuntide Vacation there were 578 matrimonial causes in the undefended list awaiting trial. This list is being taken continuously, subject to the Admiralty cases, by all three judges of the Division, and it is expected that by Friday, 28th June, substantially the whole number will have been disposed of. This will leave about 420 undefended causes, entered since the beginning of the last sittings, to be dealt with during July, as compared with 488 causes at the corresponding date last year. It is not the case, therefore, that there has been any increase of arrears with regard to undefended causes. There has been a decrease of 68 cases. With regard to the causes in the defended list, it is impracticable to make a comparison with the position 12 months ago as regards the figures in this list without including the probate cases which form part of the same list. The defended causes included in the list for the Easter sittings and remaining undisposed of at the beginning of the Whitsuntide Vacation were 272. In addition, 137 causes have been entered since the beginning of the Easter sittings, making 409 in all, as compared with about 330 at the corresponding time last year. A comparison of the dates of entry shows that the causes to be dealt with in the current sittings have been entered approximately 15 weeks longer than the corresponding causes last year. Some of the delay in the disposal of this list has been occasioned by an abnormal loss of judicial time through illness. It is hoped that the position will become more normal before the end of the Michaelmas sittings.