Remote hearings are still taking place, but this is decided on a case by case basis.
Many of us sighed with relief when the Government announced its plans to come out of lockdown, but others are still slightly hesitant about the impact of ‘returning to normality’, particularly as the virus continues to spread - although thankfully not at the same rate it spread last year.
Legal practitioners were quick to question whether the Courts will return to the traditional ways that hearings took place pre-COVID, or if we will continue to attend hearings remotely.
When the country initially went into lockdown last March, a lot of hearings were adjourned until the Courts were able to conduct hearings remotely. The Courts transitioned to this new way of working pretty quickly, so hearings took place via telephone or video effectively.
At the time, this was important given the increase in the number of domestic abuse cases the Courts had to deal with.
How the Family Court Works After Coronavirus
In June 2021, the President of the Family Law Division asked the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory to carry out a rapid consultation to update everyone about the post-pandemic recovery plans of the Family Court.
On the whole it was found that remote hearings could continue to take place, but the decision about whether a case should be heard remotely or not should be decided on a case by case basis.
Will My Case Be Heard Remotely?
The decision as to whether or not a hearing should take place remotely will depend on:
- The vulnerability of everyone involved
- Your wishes and feelings
- The complexity of your case
- Whether everyone involved has access to suitable technology - all of us have sat in a hearing where there were significant delays due to a technological error
The majority of legal practitioners agreed that complicated hearings, such as fact-finding hearings, contested hearings and final hearings should take place in person, where it was safe to do so.
Since the easing down of the restrictions, only a small percentage of hearings are taking place in person. The majority of the hearings continue to take place via telephone or video.
It’s likely that less complicated hearings, such as directions hearings, will continue to take place remotely, whereas hearings that are not suitable to be heard remotely are likely to be heard in person.
Hopefully with the innovative assistance of the e-bundles and the ability of most people being able to access a hearing via video or telephone, we will be able to break up from endless paper bundles and wheelie suitcases.
Get a Lawyer Who Is Willing to Adapt
At Simpson Millar, we understand the need to change our way of working with the changing needs of society.
We pride ourselves on our ability to keep up to date with the latest technology to ensure we can provide you with the modern and innovative service you deserve from a 21st Century Family Law firm.
Whether your hearing has been listed to take place remotely or in person, we can represent you and provide you with a professional and first class service.
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