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Are ‘remote’ hearings suitable for all family cases?

Date:1 MAY 2020

The Court Service like many other sectors has moved rapidly to deal with the effects of Covid-19.  Broadly only 45% of courts remain open to the public for ‘essential’ face-to-face hearings one third of courts are closed and slightly over 20% are temporarily closed. 

For those going through the family courts we have seen a number of changes. The majority of short interim hearings are still proceeding albeit either by telephone or by video. Whilst telephone case management hearings have been available in the civil courts for many years it had been uncommon to have family cases dealt with in that way.  A few final hearings where it was felt it was not in the interests of the family to postpone have gone ahead by way of video hearings. These have in the main taken place with the assistance of tech savvy judges and advocates.

Whilst some lawyers (and judges) have commented publically on how effective the hearings have been it is clear that experience has not been shared by all.  An anonymous circuit judge working in the family court posted...

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