Funding opportunity: Experiences of the family justice system

ADR UK will be providing funding for researchers to make use of this data for policy-relevant projects in the public interest and aligned with Ministry of Justice: Areas of Research Interest 2020.

These research fellowships will enable researchers to improve our understanding of children and families’ experiences of the family justice system. Examples of the types of research questions that may be explored include:

  • How do private and public law cases overlap?
  • What are the characteristics of repeat users of the family court?
  • What is the impact of long-running (i.e. protracted) proceedings on children and families?
  • What are the characteristics of cases involving litigants in person (those in court without legal representation)?
  • To what extent is there regional variation (by local authority and/or court area) in the way family courts are dealing with cases?
  • What types of cases attempt mediation within the family jurisdiction?

This is not a restrictive set of research interests and applications exploring other topics are also encouraged.

The Data First family court - Cafcass linked dataset came about from a data sharing agreement between the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank, MoJ and Cafcass.

The de-identified dataset contains information on public law and private law cases and their legal outcomes in England and Wales, adoption cases, and marriage and divorce characteristics.

The MoJ family court dataset provides data on family court cases in England and Wales between 1 January 2011 and 31 January 2021. This dataset will enable researchers to analyse cases including case type, key dates, related cases and originating court. Researchers will also be able to examine information about events within cases, for example, hearings, orders made by the court and administrative processes. The dataset also includes de-identified information about people involved in court cases such as their characteristics (age, sex and area of residence) and the role in the case.

Cafcass family court data covers cases between 1 April 2007 and 1 December 2021. The dataset includes case-level information, such as whether it is public or private law, the type of application, any recorded legal outputs, and the type of work carried out by Cafcass. It also includes anonymised person-level information for adults and children that are either an applicant, respondent or subject to an application on a case.

Researchers will access the linked data via the SAIL Databank, an ADR Wales partner. For more information about the metadata, access the Data First user guide and data catalogue, or the Cafcass data catalogue, or contact SAIL Databank.

Funding and eligibility

Researchers can apply for a fellowship grant for up to 15 months in duration, of up to £145,000 at full economic cost. This includes a research phase up to 12 months at 1.0 FTE, followed by an impact and development phase up to three months at 0.5 FTE. ADR UK will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Proposals are welcome from individual researchers from eligible research organisations, as per the Economic and Social Research Council’s standard eligibility criteria. This includes early career researchers, for whom a mentor will be mandatory. Researchers on fixed term contracts will be eligible to apply if their institutions are willing to extend their contracts to cover the period of the fellowship.

We will be looking for demonstrable experience of working with large datasets coupled with a willingness to engage with other researchers across the ADR UK partnership as well as policymakers. Experience of MoJ or Cafcass data is not essential.

Fellows will be expected to conduct public engagement as part of their work, and to participate in ADR UK stakeholder engagement events. They will also be expected to publish their research in accessible formats to increase its impact on policy and practice, as detailed in the funding opportunity specification.

The deadline to apply is 16.00 on 20 October 2022.

The application process, including data owner approvals, will be coordinated by ADR UK. Full details of how to apply can be seen on the Funding Finder- this and other relevant guidance documents can be accessed below.

On Monday 18 July we will hold an online applicant webinar in partnership with MoJ, Cafcass and SAIL Databank for those who want to learn more about the data, application process, and research priorities. Please register on the Eventbrite page.


General ADR UK Research Fellowships Specification

Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) Application Guidance

Frequently asked questions

Application process diagram

How to write a good proposal

MoJ ADR UK Data First 5th Academic Seminar | Karen Broadhurst

MoJ ADR UK Data First 5th Academic Seminar | Lisa Harker

Find out more and apply via the Funding Finder

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