From 19th March 2020 all hearings must be conducted remotely (Skype or telephone usually).
On Monday the Lord Chief Justice issued guidance reviewing Court arrangements in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. This reinforces the guidance for the Family Courts from the President of the Family Division, released on 19 March 2020 that all hearings must be conducted remotely (Skype or telephone usually). Only where the requirements of justice and fairness require a physically attended hearing, and where it is safe to physically attend the Court building, will a physically attended hearing take place.
Who will set up the remote hearing?
- If all parties are in person, then the Court will make the necessary arrangements and confirm these to you no less than 24 hours before your hearing;
- In public law cases, the Local Authority will assume responsibility for making the arrangements and will confirm these to the legal representatives for all parties (or the parties direct where they are self-representing) as soon as possible;
- In private law cases where the applicant is legally represented, their solicitor will make the necessary arrangements and confirm them as soon as possible to the respondent’s solicitor or to the respondent direct if they are self-representing;
- In private law cases where the applicant is in person but the respondent is legally represented, their solicitor will assume responsibility for making the necessary arrangements and will confirm them with the applicant as soon as possible.
How do I attend a remote hearing?
Separate remote meeting spaces can be set up to enable us to speak to clients confidentially and take instructions, and efforts are being made to establish whether or not it is possible for witness evidence to be given remotely. For now, this will be an exercise in trial and error. Those giving evidence will have to show that there is no one else in the room that shouldn’t be, and consideration will need to be given to those without laptops, computers, tablets, or smartphones, and those that have limited Wi-Fi.
These are unprecedented times, but please be assured that at The Family Law Company, we are working around the clock to support our clients. Court proceedings are intensely stressful and difficult under ordinary circumstances, and we are doing all that we can to alleviate the additional stress caused by the current uncertainty.
The LCJ guidance is here: https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/review-of-court-arrangements-due-to-covid-19-message-from-the-lord-chief-justice/ & the President’s guidance is here: https://resolution.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Presidents-Guidance_Covid-19-copy.pdf
Carrie is a family law solicitor at The Family Law Company who specialises in serious cases involving children. To contact Carrie about this or any other family issue please call 01752 674999 or email [email protected]