By Susan Alexander , Consultant Solicitor, Family and Mediation

This is a very challenging time for everyone, but it has been astonishing to watch how quickly the family justice system has adapted to virtual working.


The Rule of Law and the right to a fair trial are fundamental to our British society and as key workers charged with supporting the administration of justice, it is our duty to ensure that people continue to have access to justice. All family lawyers will have experienced an upsurge in enquiries due to lockdown as parents struggle to see their children and the stress of being together 24/7 in a confined space puts intolerable pressure on already shaky relationships.

Courts and lawyers throughout the country have had to adapt to different ways of working to help people needing legal remedies to achieve justice. Client consultations and settlement meetings are now being dealt with by video conferences. Court hearings are taking place over telephone conference and Skype. Mediations are also being held by video conference.

So, life goes on and once the lockdown has ended, I hope that we can take the best of these developments to improve access to justice. However virtual working is no substitute for the gravitas and solemnity of appearing in court. Although professionals are getting to grips with it, the feedback from lay people has been less positive, reporting that they feel excluded and that they are not a part of the court hearing. For that reason, I do not believe that virtual court hearings will become the norm after lockdown. However, they will help to reduce the expense of interlocutory and directions hearings.

Full court hearings are still needed for hearing evidence.

If you would like any further information about our Family Law services, please contact a member of the Family Law team on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk.

Please be assured we are open for business, our team are working remotely supporting, helping and advising our clients and we are happy to receive new enquiries.

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


The following third-party articles may also be of assistance to parents in the present crisis:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/changes-to-court-and-tribunal-hearings-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

https://www.familylaw.co.uk/news_and_comment/a-week-is-a-long-time-in-a-pandemic



 

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