More than 70,000 people have applied online for a divorce since the government first rolled out its digitised service in May 2018, according to figures released by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane commented that, since the summer, litigants in person have been able to conduct their divorce proceedings entirely online, with nearly 80 per cent of them choosing the digital system. Following a successful pilot, which included more than 100 firms, the service was opened up to legal professionals across the board.

Latest government statistics show that 29,531 divorce petitions were lodged between July and September last year – down 3 per cent on the same quarter in 2018. However, 39 per cent were made digitally, up from 28 per cent the previous year.

In related news, the Law Society Gazette reports that a judge has ruled that a legal tech offering that was established to allow couples to divorce without involving lawyers does not breach the Legal Services Act.

Mr Justice Mostyn, in JK and MK and E-Negotiation Ltd (trading as “amicable”), said amicable had “greatly improved access to justice for many people effectively disenfranchised from the legal process by the near total withdrawal of legal aid from private family law proceedings on 1 April 2013”.

According to the firm’s website, amicable is generally more than 10 times cheaper than going to court, a third of the cost of using a lawyer and half the cost of mediation.

Joanne Edwards, head of family at London firm Forsters, told the Gazette: ‘whilst there are many divorce services run by those from a non-legal background, it is always prudent for people to take specialist independent legal advice before they sign off on their financial agreement. This is their one bite of the cherry and the value that lawyers add is to know the range of outcomes that a court would impose, to identify detail a couple/non-lawyer may not have thought of when reaching their agreement and to know the pitfalls in drafting to look out for.”