The Continuation Of The Family Courts During Lockdown
Posted on 27th April 2020
During these unprecedented times, many involved in family proceedings, particularly those involving children, will be concerned that there will be lengthy delays in their cases being brought to conclusion and that hearings will be cancelled. Those thinking of issuing proceedings, may think they have to delay until restrictions are lifted.
The good news, well our solicitors in Lancaster often frequent Lancaster County Court on such issues, and can happily advise, that this is not the case at all. Far from it. The Family Courts have always been geared up to allow parties to attend by telephone and video-link where necessary, and this will now become the norm as well as through skype and any other method we can think of! Some hearings will have to take place in the Court building as normal, for example final hearings where evidence needs to be given. In these cases you are unlikely to be allowed to take anyone along for moral support as you are now, but they would not be allowed in the Courtroom in any event whilst the hearing progresses. And our Lancaster solicitors are geared up and ready to attend hearings, whenever you are ready to get matters resolved.
The local Courts are issuing notices changing hearings to telephone hearings, or adjourning if appropriate, on a week by week basis but any hearing listed as a directions appointment is likely to be listed as a 'remote' hearing for the foreseeable future.
The Court also expects the legal representatives to have an advocates meeting 48 hours before the hearing itself, to discuss the issues and possible further evidence the Court may need. Although many family lawyers are working away from their office for the majority of the time, they are still very much in contact with their opponents and indeed their Clients, whose full instructions will be taken before the hearing as they are now.
Clients will not be expected to attend the offices of their solicitors for the remote hearing to take place. Log in details for attending will be given if the telephone conference has been arranged by solicitors, but if arranged by the Court, it will be the Court that contacts the representatives and the parties.
Warnings will be given that the hearing cannot be recorded by the parties, and each will be asked to confirm that they are in a private, quiet, space and that nobody is in earshot of the hearing. The same rules apply to telephone hearings as they do to hearings inside the Court building, and all those attending will be expected to conduct themselves appropriately.
Whilst there could be short delays or hiccups initially, it will be business as usual for the Family Courts.
Thoughts, or queries? Please do not hesitate to contact our solicitors in Lancaster here….
MG Legal – Your Local Solicitors
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