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Remote hearings – will the Family Court ever be the same?

Date:27 MAY 2020
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Anna Dannreuther, Field Court Chambers

In a system of scant resources and public funding, family law practitioners and judges must carefully monitor the advent of remote hearings to assess whether there is any scope for increased participation and access to justice in family law cases. Anna Dannreuther's article considers whether small-scale, less complex directions hearings may be suitable candidates for remote hearings on a longer-term basis than the COVID-19 crisis. Of course, each case would need to be considered on its own facts, and cases where all parties are represented will likely be better suited. Such a change has the potential to free up lawyer and judicial resources to deal with a larger number of cases, thus potentially benefitting the family system as a whole. 

This article also explores some of the lessons learned from remote hearings taking place during the Covid-19 pandemic. These lessons will be crucial in determining the longer-term viability of remote hearings, as remote hearings are only desirable if they can provide effective access to justice and protect litigants' Article 6 rights. If those needs can be met, practitioners need to be vigilant not to miss an opportunity to increase effective access to justice.

The full article will be published in the June issue of Family Law

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