COVID19: Worried about a court hearing?

By Alice Blackmore

 

The President of the Family Division on 19 March 2020 gave guidance to be followed with immediate effect by all levels of the Family Court and in the High Court Family Division.

The aim of the guidance is to ‘Keep Business Going Safely’ so that the Family Justice System can continue to function as normally as possible despite the present pandemic.

The default position, at present, is that all Family Court hearings should be undertaken remotely either by email, telephone, video or Skype. A court-based hearing should only take place where the requirements of fairness and justice require a court-based hearing.

If both you and the person you have a family dispute with are conducting the case without the assistance of solicitors or legal representation, then the court will organise and make the technical arrangements for a remote hearing. The court will circulate the details for the hearing no later than 24 hours prior to the remote hearing taking place.

If you are legally represented in a private law case then your legal representative will make the arrangements and tell you what will happen.

However, in the circumstances where you have legal representation but are responding to an application from your previous partner who is acting in person, then your legal representative will be expected to make arrangements and inform all parties.

If you are concerned about a forthcoming hearing or, you are someone without legal representation and have a hearing in the forthcoming weeks please contact our Family Team at Goughs and we can provide you with the up to date and relevant advice from the judiciary. We are in exceptional and unprecedented times. The situation is changing daily on a national and local level.

Our Family Team at Goughs are very aware that these circumstances are intensely difficult and highly stressful. Legal proceedings are stressful at the best of times without this additional pressure but, we are here to support you through these times and will continue to operate and meet the pressing needs of our clients and those who need protection in these very difficult circumstances.