Scotland’s top judge has slammed the cost to the taxpayer and time necessary to settle a relatively straightforward family access case.
Instead of lasting just a few days as expected, the case, which concerned a father’s bid to regain contact with his 10-year-old son, lasted over 50 days, at an estimated cost to the public purse of £1 million.
Lord President Lord Hamilton spoke out during an appeal against the Stirling Sheriff Court’s decision refusing the father’s access claim. The father’s appeal to the Court of Session (the highest court of civil appeal in Scotland) was also denied.
During the Sheriff Court hearing, the mother’s evidence lasted 17 days and her former partner had given evidence over seven days. Both parents were described by the judge as ‘opinionated’, ‘domineering’ and ‘determined’ with neither willing to give any ground.
“Cases of this kind are often difficult but their objective must be, in the interests of the child or children, an expeditious disposal,” said Lord Hamilton. “The primary responsibility for achieving such a disposal lies with the parties’ professional advisers, solicitors and counsel.”