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Remote hearings in family proceedings – how is justice perceived?

Date:14 JAN 2021

The motion for the recent Kingsley Napley debate:  “This House believes remote hearings are not remotely fair” was carried with a fairly balanced 56% in favour and 44% against. With an audience made up of over a hundred family lawyers and barristers this result was no doubt influenced by their experience of remote court hearings heard either via  video link or by telephone over the last six months since the national lockdown in March.  

While arguably the majority of remote hearings have been delivered effectively with just and fair outcomes it is clear that many family law practitioners consider that remote hearings are certainly not the ideal format for determining such significant issues for many people’s lives. The outcome of the debate may well reflect the feeling of the family law world in terms of how remote hearings are currently faring in circumstances where family court applications have increased significantly since the COVID-19 crisis in England began.

Interestingly the second Nuffield Family Justice Observatory consultation on remote hearings published last month concluded that while “most professionals who responded to the survey felt that fairness and justice had...

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