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Will my family court case still go ahead during COVID19 Pandemic?

April 23rd 2020
 

Amy Fallows Associate Solicitor in our Family Law Department provides some helpful advice.

The coronavirus has significantly affected the court system but it hasn’t closed it completely. Court staff have been working round the clock to maintain access to justice. This means that it is still possible to make a court application in the family court and many court hearings are still going ahead.

The use of technology

Court applications can be submitted online and original signatures on paper documents are no longer necessary for issuing a court application.

Although many courts are physically closed to the public, hearings may take place remotely, by either telephone or video. The Court’s preferred providers are BTMeetMe for telehearings and Skype for Business for video hearings.

Remote hearings are mainly being used for case management decisions and interim hearings. They are less well suited for hearings where parties have to give oral evidence and be cross-examined. However if a decision needs to be made urgently, a court will attempt to find a way.

The use of technology by the Courts poses a number of difficulties. If you do not have  WiFi or access to a computer, the court process may simply stop, with cases being adjourned until the restrictions are lifted. For those who have lawyers representing them, it will be the lawyer who sets up any conference and then makes the arrangements for everyone to participate safely.

How to Conduct a Hearing by Telephone or Video

If you are attending a court hearing by telephone or video:

  • Establish whose job it is to arrange the hearing and ensure you have provided accurate contact information;
  • Before the hearing think about the main points you want to make and write them down so you don’t forget any;
  • Only speak when it’s your turn to speak;
  • If you don’t understand a decision or a question, ask the judge to clarify;

Here is a useful link which provides guidance for hearings in the Civil and Family courts:

https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/The-Remote-Access-Family-Court-Version-3-Final-03.04.20.pdf

If you need assistance with any family legal issues or court application please do not hesitate to contact our family law team. You can call them on 01228 51666 or click here to send an email

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