Faced with an overloaded justice system, family lawyers often find themselves unfairly blamed for delays. How can this challenge be overcome?
In the world of justice, specifically in family law and divorce, the lawyer is the client’s first point of contact. This pivotal role is all too often wrongly associated with the inefficiency and slowness of the Belgian judicial system. In reality, they find themselves stuck in an impasse caused by a congested and slow system.
The justice system in Belgium is facing an overload of divorce applications, with files piling up and the slowness of the system leading to delays of several years. Lawyers, as direct intermediaries with clients, are often held responsible for these delays. They are put under pressure and criticized. Yet they are not the real culprits.
Lawyers are not magicians; their work depends on the legal system, and they can only act within its framework. What’s more, the lack of rapid replacement of sick judges only makes the situation worse. As a result, divorce cases are often relegated to the bottom of the pile, lengthening processing times.
It’s crucial to change perspective and understand that lawyers, far from being responsible for these delays, are also victims of this overloaded system. It’s time to turn our attention to the administration of justice itself.
In fact, the League of Families and the European Court of Human Rights have already condemned Belgian justice for its slowness. Open letters have regularly been sent to the Minister of Justice, demanding more resources for justice.
The key to solving this problem is collective awareness and reform of the justice system. More resources need to be allocated to process divorce cases more quickly and efficiently. In addition, it is imperative to quickly fill vacancies when a judge falls ill.
We also need to rethink the way we interact with lawyers. Instead of blaming them for the slowness of the system, we need to understand their position and work with them to best navigate the intricacies of the justice system.
Ultimately, improving the situation requires the contribution of all stakeholders, including lawyers, customers, judges and the Ministry of Justice.
Nathalie Van den Bossche
Lawyer specialized in family law