COVID 19 – CORONAVIRUS
Courts between a Rock and a Hard Place
Having faced some pressure perhaps – and the reality of the court system facing unprecedented times in light of the Coronavirus outbreak – Mostyn J has issued an update regarding the court practices from now on. Our own James Thornton experienced it first hand yesterday when a two day hearing had to be adjourned due to the Judge (who was over 70 years of age) fell into the category of those required to self-isolate. We are going to see more adjournments, and fewer face to face hearings from now on.
The full guidance can be found here.
In summary, all FRC judges are being asked to take the following measures:
1. First appointments should be done wherever possible using the “accelerated” paper-only procedure in the fourth schedule to the FRC protocol (https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/FRC-Good-Practice-Protocol-November-2019.pdf). The terms of that schedule do not need to be followed strictly; judicial latitude is encouraged. Judges should accept consent orders dealing with first appointments routinely.
2. Parties should be encouraged to have their FDRs done privately. Such private FDRs should routinely be done remotely. Most barristers’ chambers and solicitors’ offices have facilities to enable FDRs to be done remotely.
3. The default position for other hearings is that they should be done either by Skype (Skype for Business is available on all judicial laptops) or by telephone. The extension of the existing virtual courts project is being actively investigated.
4. Physical hearing should only take place where this is absolutely unavoidable.
5. The physical lodging and handling of documents should be avoided. The use of ebundles should be virtually mandatory. See https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/financial-remedies-courts-e-bundles-protocol/
6. FRC judges should endeavour to do as much work as they possibly can from home.
Not Remotely Affected
At Paradigm Family Law we are ready willing and able to conduct hearings and meetings remotely. Our office systems are already cloud based, and our case management software enables all staff members to work remotely wherever and whenever needed in order to meet clients needs. We do not forsee any interruption in our ability to continue to provide advice and representation to our clients caused by the outbreak of coronavirus.
Paradigm Family Law have a team of experienced lawyers to help guide you through the process of divorce, just waiting to hear from you.
If you would like more details on this or want to discuss your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact James, Frank, Evelyn or Paul. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover all aspects of family law from start to finish. You can call us on 01904 217225 or email us – [email protected].