Update 29 April 2020
The video below explains first hand how the family court is running remote hearings:
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, lots of family courts are now closed in order to follow Government guidance and stop the spread of the virus. Some court hearings have taken place ‘remotely’ – this means by video or telephone conferencing. However, remote court hearings in this manner are not suitable for all cases.
It is important to say that each case must be looked at individually as no two cases are the same, so there is no easy answer which fits all cases.
The President of the Family Division has recently provided guidance about the important factors that Judges must consider when deciding if a hearing can go ahead remotely or not. The Guidance says that the following factors are important to consider:
- The impact of delay in proceedings and the effect of this delay on the children involved.
- The number of factual issues that are disputed and which the court will need to determine. The more issues there are, the more complicated a case will be.
- The complexity of the issues before the court. Some issues are simpler, however, some issue involve highly sensitive and complicated information which would be more difficult to address remotely.
- The number and type of witnesses who may need to give evidence must be considered. If the witnesses are professionals such as medical experts or social workers, this is easier to resolve. If the witnesses are lay people, such as parents, family members this can be more difficult to arrange.
- The availability of local facilities and technology for people to be involved in remote hearings. Things such as internet connections, laptops, access to email, as well as being in a safe, quiet, and confidential space. This will vary from area to area and family to family.
- Whether a person can effectively participate and engage in the proceedings.
- Whether the hearing can be fairly and justly undertaken to ensure that all parties are all on an equal footing. The right to a fair trial is vital and the Judge must be satisfied that the process can be conducted fairly.
What To Do
There are a lot of factors which must be taken into account and there is, unfortunately, no straight forward answer. However, you can have confidence that your specialist solicitor at David Gray will be able to advise you about these different options and the way forward for you and your family.
We have a large, experienced Family Law team here at David Gray, please contact Louise on 0191 243 8163 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your matter further or arrange an appointment with one of our team.