Skip to main content

This is a summary of Version 3 of MacDonald J’s guidance, published on 3 April 2020

The default position

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitates that the default position should be that all Family Court hearings should be undertaken by way of a remote hearing, either using telephone conferencing, or an electronic communications platform.

An email from the President dated 24 March 2020 said that live court-based hearings should now be confined only to exceptional circumstances where a remote hearing is not possible, but the hearing is sufficiently urgent to mean that it must take place. Those involved must attend court in a manner which meets the social distancing requirements.

HMCTS has introduced three categories for courts:

1. Open – these will remain open for all purposes where access can be achieved safely. Judges, lawyers and the public will have physical access to these courts.

2. Staffed – staff and judges will be able to access these courts but lawyers and the public will not. Judges at staffed courts can conduct remote hearings only.

3. Suspended – these courts have no staff or judges.

The following types of hearing can be heard remotely: 

  • All case management hearings.
  • Hearings limited to the determination of points of law.
  • Longer hearings that do not involve witness evidence.
  • Potentially, contested multi-day final hearings involving both lay and expert witnesses (although these may have to be adjourned until an in person hearing is possible). 

However, committal proceedings (including Judgement Summonses) will always need to be heard physically in court. 

Given the pressures on the courts, parties in private proceedings should give consideration to the use of arbitration and other forms of ADR.

If a hearing has to be adjourned, lawyers should bear in the mind the provisions of FPR 3.4.

BEFORE THE HEARING

Preparation before the hearing

The court’s permission is still required for all or any part of the proceedings to be dealt with by way of remote hearing, despite remote hearings being the default position.

If a remote hearing is to take place, it is vital there is a preliminary hearing to consider and settle on the platform that will be used to conduct the hearing, and to resolve the directions required in respect of this (including the identity of the lead party). It may be necessary for this hearing to take place by way of telephone conference, pending the resolution of which platform is to be used. 

Where one or more of the parties is represented, responsibility for making the arrangements for the remote hearing will fall on the applicant or the first represented party.

What technology can I use for my remote hearing?

Firstly, a decision must be made as to whether a hearing is to be heard via telephone conferencing, or over a video link platform. 

If one party does not have the technology to enable them to download video link software, the remote hearing will be held by telephone call. This is to be arranged by the applicant or the first represented party. This is also the position if one party has a poor internet connection, since an effective video hearing requires all parties to have minimum bandwidth of 1.5 Mbps.

There are two main telephone conferencing options:

  1. Judicial telephones (in judges’ chambers)
  2. BT Telephone Conferencing/BT MeetMe

If all parties have adequate bandwidth and technology to enable them to use video link software, then parties may also consider using a platform which enables video. There are at least five further platforms (although this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. Skype for Business
  2. Microsoft Teams
  3. Zoom
  4. Lifesize
  5. FaceTime

A judge should not send out a Skype or Zoom invitation to a litigant in person from his or her judicial email. It must come from his or her clerk or the court staff. If this is not possible, then the hearing will likely have to take place using the court teleconferencing facilities.

The Ministry of Justice/HMCTS Cloud Video Platform (‘CVP’/‘Kinly Cloud’) was in the process of being introduced before the COVID-19 pandemic and may be available in days rather than weeks.

Limitations imposed by judicial laptops

The platform you should select depends to a certain extent upon the laptop your allocated judge has been provided with by HMCTS (of course, no such limitations exist for private FDRs/arbitration). There are two models of judicial laptop, the DOM1 and the Open Build. The latter allows for more choice, but conducting remote hearings by video link is possible with either model.

There is no one solution for every case

It is recognised that each platform has its own advantages and disadvantages and that the Remote Family Court is best realised as a collection of platforms (the ‘smorgasbord’) being used to achieve the single aim of safe access to justice and the maintenance of the rule of law. Flexibility, the use of local resources and expertise, and not getting hung up on a single option must be the key operational principles. 

On 2 April 2020 HMCTS issued the following guidance to the judiciary:

REMOTE HEARINGS - IT SOLUTIONS

FURTHER GUIDANCE

1. Many judges, court staff, lawyers and others have asked for further guidance on which apps can be used for remote video and audio hearings.

Recommended: Skype for Business and Kinly Cloud

2. We recognise that are a variety of on-line apps which are theoretically available for use to conduct remote video hearings (and some are perceived to have advantages over others). However, at present, we only recommend Skype for Business (“Skype”), and HMCTS’ Cloud Video Platform (“Kinly Cloud”) are used and these are the only apps for which HMCTS can provide technical support.

3. Skype remains the default video app at the moment because (i) it is loaded on most judicial laptops, (ii) there is detailed and user-friendly guidance about it, (iii) staff are trained to support its use and (iv) it is tried and tested.

4. Kinly Cloud is already used within the criminal courts for remote video links and is now being rolled out more widely for remote video hearings. To make use of this platform in Civil, Family and Tribunals please contact your local listing team who will be given guidance on how to access licenses and training.

Recommended: BT MeetMe

5. BT MeetMe is the recommended default audio app at the moment. There are user guides for conference calling and for the role and responsibilities of the Digital Support Officer.

Other on-line apps

6. Microsoft Teams (“MS Teams”): We know that some eJudiciary users have been able to use MS Teams for some time. Currently, it does not function effectively across all judicial computer systems. However, it will soon be made available on DOM1. HMCTS will then be able to carry out cross-domain and functionality testing, and produce guidance for its use across all judicial/ staff device types and arrange the right support. It is hoped that detailed guidance on MS Teams will be available generally in a few weeks’ time.

7. There are other on-line video apps but only those mentioned in this guidance are supported by HMCTS, namely Skype for Business and Kinly Cloud. They are the ones that should, therefore, be used.

8. We are continuing to work to make sure that the best available apps are brought forward for general use as quickly as possible.”

This guidance states that HMCTS recommended apps ‘should’ rather than ‘must’ be used, and does not expressly prohibit the use of other apps. Judges retain their discretion with respect to which platform to use in a given case, including, where there is an urgent operational need to do so, those apps for which HMCTS cannot provide technical support. It is suggested that it is plain that the need to deal with family law cases in the context of a global pandemic, using a platform that allows all parties in a given case to participate in a remote hearing, qualifies as an urgent operational need.

It should be noted that judges sitting in the Family Division of the High Court have successfully used ‘unsupported’ apps. For example, Zoom has been used to conduct hearings by Sir Mark Hedley and Judd J.

Screenshot 2020 04 02 At 14 30 33

The FLBA has produced an extremely helpful step-by-step guide on how to use Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Lifesize. The guide and further materials can be found at: https://wmflba.co.uk/covid-19-update/

On 27 March 2020, Resolution published a survey designed to provide a ‘snapshot’ of the use of remote hearings in family proceedings since the Prime Minister’s ‘lockdown’ announcement. The survey indicated the following:

· 86.67% of remote hearings have taken place by telephone.

· 28.89% have taken place by Skype.

· 15.56% have taken place by Zoom.

· 40% of remote hearings have been set up by the court and 35.56% by a represented applicant.

· The majority of hearings concerned directions or case management hearings and other interim hearings.

· Remote hearings have taken place in courts on all circuits.

The following flowchart incorporates the guidance given on the different platforms and their various advantages and disadvantages:

Covid 19 And The Family Court Version 3

Practicalities for a remote hearing

The lead party responsible for arranging the hearing must provide the details required to attend the remote hearing to all other parties no later than 24 hours before the hearing is scheduled to begin.

Listing

The court will list hearings at a specified time and there will be little or no option to extend the time estimate for the hearing once it has commenced. Time estimates are therefore critical and must be met. All parties must ensure they are ready to join the hearing promptly at the listed time.

Bundles

The President, in an email dated 23 March 2020, made clear that ‘I am today by this email giving a blanket approval [to] DFJs [Designated Family Judges] to approve the use of e-bundles in all remote hearings held pursuant to my guidance of 19 March 2020’. The following guidance applies:

(a) PDF format is to be used; 

(b) All documents are to be contained, if possible, within one single PDF file; 

(c) The PDF file must be searchable; 

(d) Pagination must be computer generated within the PDF, not hand-written:

     (i) Original pagination must be by section and page number i.e. A1, A2, A3…. B1, B2, B3 etc; 

     (ii) Insertions, after compilation of the original bundles, should be using ‘legal’ numbering (e.g. B13.1, B13.2, B 13.3 to be inserted between B13 and B14);

(e) Each section of the bundle, and each individual document referenced in the index, should be separately bookmarked; 

(f) Electronic bundles should contain only documents and authorities that are essential to the remote hearing.

The electronic bundle must be filed with the court on CE-file (if available) or sent to the court via a cloud-based link (e.g. ShareFile, iCloud, OneDrive, Dropbox or Google Drive) rather than in a series of emails. Delivery by USB stick should be avoided unless absolutely necessary due to the risk of creating a pathway of infection. The electronic bundle should be provided to all other representatives and parties within the timescales provided by the relevant Practice Direction.

The use of e-bundles can create difficulties for litigants in person and for parties who are remote from their lawyers in accessing the bundle during remote hearings. These difficulties may be mitigated by the following steps:

(a) For interim hearings at which that party is represented and is not giving evidence, it may be unnecessary for that party to have access to the bundle.

(b) Some video-conferencing platforms enable a ‘screen’ or documents to be shared with one or more of the other participants, and this may be a method by which a party can access the bundle when required, particularly if the platform being used has a breakout room feature that enables instructions to be taken, and enables documents shown to clients, within those breakout rooms.

(c) Specific documents (such as a party’s statements where they are to give evidence) may, where appropriate, be posted to that party by their representatives.

(d) In exceptional circumstances, where no other option is available and the public health guidance permits it, it may be possible for a party to attend an ‘open’ court building or other facility in order to participate in the remote hearing while having access to the bundle.

 Potential access issues (particularly if one party is a litigant in person)

Some parties attending from a different location to their lawyers, and litigants in person, are likely to face difficulties in achieving access to a remote hearing. Further, difficulties may arise where a party continues to live in the same household as another party, particularly where there are allegations of domestic abuse. The following solutions have been suggested:

(a) While a party who has a Pay as You Go mobile phone would incur a cost, and therefore require “credit”, to telephone into any hearing, they would not incur a cost, and therefore not require “credit”, if the hearing provider dials out to them.

(b) Where video communication platforms enable an audio only connection in addition to video connection, a decision can be made on a case by case basis whether a party may join on an audio only basis if adequate for the needs of a party who is unable to join without a video connection.

(c) Courts can produce plain English guides to assist the litigant in person with basic literacy to connect to a video conference by explaining that they will be sent an invitation with a link or login details, and that they need to follow the link and enter any code 10 minutes before the start of the hearing. Court DSOs could support litigants in person to connect. Litigants in person could also be offered an opportunity for a ‘dry run’ test connection by the hearing host, 24 hours prior to any hearing wherever possible.

(d) There may be some hearings where technological challenges mean that the only way to involve a litigant in person in an otherwise remote hearing is to provide a safe space for them to do so. Subject to the strict social distancing requirements, arrangements could be made for a litigant to attend an ‘open’ court in order to participate in a remote hearing, enabling a party to access the remote hearing without the need to convene a fully face-to-face hearing.

(e) There is no reason in principle why a litigant in person who would otherwise be permitted the support of a McKenzie friend should not be afforded the support of a McKenzie friend when the hearing is conducted remotely, even if the McKenzie friend can’t be in the same location as the litigant in person. In the usual way, a McKenzie friend can be asked for a verbal confirmation they understand and will abide by the McKenzie Friend guidance, having been sent and read that guidance.

Where a party or litigant in person is able to access a remote hearing it should be borne in mind that they are likely to be particularly anxious if having to take part in a hearing without proximity to their, or any, legal representation and simultaneously to deal with unfamiliar technology. As the FLBA notes, although some litigants in person will be ‘tech savvy’, many will not. Some will be illiterate, find text or screen-based communication difficult, or find audio only communication difficult (for various reasons such as a disability) and may have language or communication difficulties. Within this context:

(a) It is important for clear ground rules to be set at the start of any hearing. For example, on turn-taking, muting, privacy, alerting the judge if any technical or sound difficulties and in particular making clear that there is a prohibition on recording or broadcasting, which may not be obvious to litigants and which carries a criminal sanction.

(b) It is important for judges to ‘check in’ regularly with a litigant in person to ensure that they are hearing, understanding and following the proceedings.

(c) Developing experience suggests that remote hearings are more tiring than face to face hearings. Regular breaks are essential for all participants and particularly litigants in person.

DURING THE HEARING

Protocol during the hearing

(a) All participants to the remote hearing should join the remote hearing prior to the Judge.

(b) The Judge’s camera and microphone should remain on at all times during the hearing.

(c) Unless addressing the Judge, or otherwise requested to do so, all other participants should have their microphones muted at all times.

(d) Unless directed otherwise, all participants should leave their cameras turned on at all times.

(e) At the start of a hearing, the Court will identify all participants to the remote hearing and give any additional directions the Court wishes to make about the use of cameras and microphones.

(f) The Court will give any necessary warnings including warnings to all parties regarding recording and confidentiality. The parties will be asked to turn on their microphones whilst warnings are given, and will be invited to confirm their understanding of the warnings given.

(g) When a witness is giving evidence, that witness must keep their camera and microphone on at all times.

(h) Advocates may need to take instructions during the course of a hearing and time should be provided to do so.

 Fairness and solemnity

It is not appropriate for courts to stipulate ‘advocates only’ remote hearings because participation of lay parties continues to be a fundamental element of a fair trial where a hearing is held remotely.

Remote hearings remain court hearings and the solemnity of the occasion should be observed as closely as it is in a courtroom. Steps should be taken to avoid matters that detract from the ordinary gravitas of a court hearing.

Professional decorum should be maintained at all times and in particular:

(a) Advocates should dress as if they were attending court but advocates are not required to robe for any remote hearings.

(b) Participants should ensure that the background visible on the screen is appropriate for a court hearing and that they are adequately lit in order to allow their face to be seen.

(c) Participants must ensure that they will not be interrupted or distracted during the course of the hearing.

(d) Participants should not move away from the screen without permission of the judge during the course of a remote hearing.

(e) The usual restrictions on eating and drinking in a Court room apply.

(f) All reasonable steps must be taken to preserve the confidentiality of the proceedings. This will include ensuring that participants are indoors in a room with the door closed and alone, unless they are a party to the proceedings sitting with another party to the same proceedings.

(g) The use of earphones is permitted and encouraged if their use will assist in preserving the confidentiality of proceedings.

(h) The judiciary and other advocates should be addressed as if they were in a physical courtroom. It is not however, necessary to stand when the Judge joins the hearing or when addressing the Judge.

Recording

All hearings must be recorded in the same way that court-based hearings are recorded. For storage reasons it is best for recordings to be kept in the cloud rather than on the hard drives of individual devices. All recordings will eventually have to be held centrally.

Responsibility for recording the hearing will fall on the party that has organised the remote hearing, or the court if the hearing was court-organised. If the host is not the judge, they can record the hearing as long as they are a legal representative and they provide a link to the recording to the judge immediately following the hearing.

The recording will then be uploaded to the cloud and the judge will settle arrangements for how the recording files are to be transmitted and stored centrally by the court.  

Pending the identification of the method by which a central repository of recordings held by HMCTS can be established, the judge should direct either:

(a) that the legal representative who hosted the meeting should store the audio recording of the hearing in a secure GDPR compliant data storage facility, to be transferred to HMCTS when a storage facility becomes available, or

(b) that the legal representative is to send a copy for storage by the local court/judge and thereafter dispose of their own copy.

Where the judge gives an ex tempore judgment, the relevant file or link to the recording can be made available to the transcribers, just as the digital file from a court recording is made available for transcription.

The risk of litigants in person or parties recording hearings, or taking photos of the judge, advocates or other parties and posting them on social media, will have to be accepted. However, Schedule 25 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 makes it an offence to record or transmit participation through live link or a broadcast from a ‘remote’ court.

GDPR

The Information Commissioners Office is content that Skype for Business, Lifesize and Zoom are GDPR compliant. The ICO has indicated that reasonable allowances are going to be made during this period. The position with respect to Microsoft Teams needs to be clarified. 

Particular care must be taken by parties where they are using ‘breakout’ rooms and parties must ensure they have selected the correct channel.

Witnesses

There may be an increased need for the judge to administer the oath or take the affirmation from parties and witnesses if a member of court staff is not also linked to the court hearing. When swearing in witnesses, Mostyn J uses a short form and asks the witness: ‘Do you swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?’. There is no requirement to touch any Holy Book. 

The witness must be alone, in a secure room with the doors closed, and must ensure there will be no interruptions or distractions for the duration of their appearance at the remote hearing. They should have recently re-read all affidavits or statements made by them in the proceedings and have a copy of those documents with them. 

Parties should endeavour to agree a list of documents to which a witness is likely to be referred while giving their evidence. The lead party should send an e-bundle of the copy documents to the witness. 

Interpreters

Zoom allows for multiple audio channels. This means that interpretation does not interrupt the course of the hearing. The host can start the interpretation feature, which gives interpreters access to their own audio channels, and attendees can then select an audio channel to hear their language of choice. However, recordings of hearings with interpreters will only record the original audio of the hearing, and not the translation. Local recordings of interpretation sessions can record any audio that the person recording can hear, but not multiple audio channels.

However, the provider of interpreting services to HMCTS has indicated to the FLBA that there is no way for an individual interpreter’s contact details to be provided even to a member of court staff or the judge in order for them to be dialled into or invited to a remote hearing being conducted on an alternative platform to the provider’s Video Remote Interpreting platform (to which HMCTS firewalls are currently preventing access). It may be practical for arrangements to be made for the interpreter and client to speak via telephone while watching the hearing by video conference, although this remains unclear.

Children and childcare

It would not be appropriate for children present in households from which remote hearings are being accessed to be able to hear the hearings. In some cases it may be that another family member in a parent’s household is able to provide childcare for the duration of the hearing, with the parent accessing the hearing remotely from a quiet location in the home. Where this is not possible, and where a party is represented, the court may need to take a more flexible approach to the need for a parent to attend interim or procedural hearings. In any event, the court must be astute to ensure that children are insulated from witnessing or hearing remote hearings. In many cases this will provide only limited protection in circumstances where parties have young children and no access to childcare within or outside the home in the current public health crisis. Where it is simply not possible to insulate children from hearing or witnessing inappropriate matters, consideration will have to be given to adjourning the hearing.

Transparency

It is highly desirable that the operation of the Family Courts is as transparent as possible. The following guidance applies regarding the press:

(a) Where the hearing is being held on a multi-channel communications platform, an invitation is sent to the press by the lead party and the email addresses of the parties’ representatives are provided to the press. The latter enables reporters to raise questions outside of the hearing as they would in the normal course.

(b) The reporter(s) can dial in at the commencement of the hearing. At this stage they are able to participate in any discussions regarding reporting restrictions in the normal way. There is an opportunity, as there would be at a live hearing, for the reporter to ask any questions necessary to clarify anonymity concerns with the judge.

(c) The press can (where appropriate) be provided with electronic copies of documents ahead of the hearing.

(d) On multi-channel communications platforms such as Skype for Business, the reporter is able to dial in and drop out (as they do in live court hearings) of the hearing without causing disruption. 

(e) Handed down judgments can easily be covered remotely, provided they are available online via Bailii or the Courts and Tribunals website, or via email at the point of hand down. 

The cause lists should list cases as ‘Being Heard Remotely’ which will enable journalists to make enquiries as to how they could observe proceedings. Indeed, while further consideration is being given to arrangements in the Family Court, the Daily Cause List in the Family Division of the High Court now contains an email address from which journalists who wish to attend a remote hearing can obtain details of the relevant judge’s clerk.


AFTER THE HEARING

The clerk, court official or judge must complete the order made at the end of the remote hearing. The wording of the order should be discussed and agreed with the parties before the link is terminated. 

Family Court orders are now sealed on FamilyMan automatically. However, an electronic seal for the Family Division of the High Court is still some way off.

On Adobe Acrobat, it is possible to put a password protected restriction on further editing PDF documents to prevent orders sent out in PDF format being edited by those receiving them. Instructions can be found at: https://www.adobe.com/content/dam/acom/en/products/acrobat/pdfs/adobe-acrobat-xi-protect-pdf-file-with-permissions-tutorial-ue.pdf

The President has made clear that the rules do not indicate that a ‘wet’ signature is a procedural requirement for consent orders, applications etc., and courts should no longer reject documents on that basis. There is no need for orders to bear a manual signature or even a copy of a manuscript signature.

APPENDIX: Summary of Central Family Court Notice in relation to FRC hearings between 6 April and 1 May 2020, prepared by HHJ O’Dwyer on 30 March 2020

All financial remedies cases should be heard remotely unless personal attendance is absolutely unavoidable in the interests of fairness and justice. 

Parties should make use of private FDRs, arbitration and ADR wherever possible. If a court is not satisfied the parties have appropriately explored ADR, the hearing will be adjourned so this can be explored. 

Where parties consider it is not currently practicable to proceed with any application that has already been issued and seek to stay or adjourn proceedings, they shall jointly notify the court at the earliest opportunity. The court will list the matter for a remote mention hearing on the first available date after six months (unless otherwise ordered). Any such application should be sent to by email to cfc.fru@justice.gov.uk and marked for the urgent attention of HHJ O’Dwyer, DJ Gibbons and DJ Judd. 

Urgent applications

The court must prioritise urgent cases and those involving vulnerable parties. Urgent applications include (but are not limited to):

  • Maintenance Pending Suit
  • Interim Maintenance
  • Legal Services Payment Orders
  • Applications under s 37 MCA 1973
  • Enforcement by D50K and D11

Parties must identify within the applications or confirm by email (no later than 7 days before the hearing) whether they consider the case to be urgent (and if so what factors are relied upon). If the court is satisfied that a case is urgent, it will list a hearing which may take place on paper, remotely, or in person. 

If the court is satisfied that oral submissions are required it will list a remote hearing (or will give directions to enable a hearing already listed to take place as a remote hearing).

Non-urgent hearings

These include:

  • First Appointments
  • FDRs
  • Final hearings (including pre-trial reviews)
  • Directions hearings
  • Mention hearings

First Appointments

Parties should follow the Accelerated First Appointment procedure (set out in the fourth schedule to the FRC Good Practice Protocol). 

If parties cannot agree directions the hearing will be on paper only. Relevant documents are to be submitted electronically by the day before the hearing and each party shall include their:

  • Form E (without attachments)
  • Chronology
  • Statement of issues (2 pages maximum)
  • Questionnaire (4 pages maximum)
  • Draft order
  • Submissions on directions sought (6 pages maximum)

Requests for a remote hearing will be considered on paper.

Pre-trial Reviews and Final Hearings

The (first) day of the hearing will proceed as a remote directions hearing with a time estimate of 1.5 hours. Parties must investigate whether it is possible and appropriate to go to arbitration or use an alternative form of ADR. At the hearing the judge will consider:

  • The urgency of the case
  • The suitability of the case for ADR
  • The listing of any future hearings
  • The appropriate arrangements for future hearings to proceed remotely

All other non-urgent hearings

If these cannot be accommodated, they will be adjourned and shall be relisted as a remote mention hearing to determine whether a court hearing is necessary and if necessary to give appropriate directions, unless a form of ADR has been adopted.

Paper hearings

Parties must consider if their matter can be dealt with on written submissions. If so, written submissions will be lodged by email and an e-bundle (containing only immediately relevant documents) will be emailed to the court no less than 3 clear days before the hearing. 

The court will then give a ruling electronically. 

Consent orders

Where parties have agreed the terms of an order, the draft consent order (and any accompanying documents) shall be submitted by email. 

Agreed directions orders must be supported by an agreed Position Statement or jointly signed letter setting out the issues in the case and how the draft directions provide for the issues to be resolved, including the arrangements proposed by which to conduct any future hearing. 

If a consent order is final, a Statement of financial information in Form D81 must be lodged (under FPR 9.26). The information required can be set out in an appended schedule, provided that the D81 is signed by both parties. 

Signatures

Where a signature is required for eg. undertakings, the court will accept a scanned PDF copy of a signed document. 

Where a remote hearing is necessary

If parties still require a telephone hearing, they may apply under the liberty to apply provision and must satisfy the court they have taken all reasonable steps to pursue ADR and that the matter is not suitable for a paper hearing. 

Platforms

All remote hearings will take place by telephone hearing, specifically by BT MeetMe (unless the court directs otherwise). The parties must, by no later than 10am on the day before the hearing, send to the court (at cfc.telephonehearings@justice.gov.uk and cfc.fru@justice.gov.uk) their contact details to facilitate the hearing. 

The platforms supported by HMCTS are limited to BT MeetMe and Skype for Business. Other platforms (eg. Zoom, Lifesize, Microsoft Teams) are not approved for remote use by HMCTS and it is a matter for the allocated judge as to whether they will approve other platforms.

Security

No unauthorised person may be in attendance or able to listen to the hearing. 

In person hearings

Where a party considers an in person hearing to be necessary, they must set out their reasons either in any application made to the court or no less than 7 days before the date of any remote hearing listed within the relevant proceedings. 

The court will then consider whether the hearing can proceed as a remote hearing, or partly as a remote hearing and partly as an in person hearing, or whether the interests of fairness and justice require the attendance of all parties and their lawyers. 

Hearings listed on or after 4 May 2020

These currently remain listed and shall be heard remotely (subject to review). 

Where parties consider that any hearing listed on or after 4 May 2020 is not likely to be effective, and/or seek to adjourn for the purposes of enquiring into or engaging in ADR, or for any other reason, they should make any such application promptly by email to cfc.fru@justice.gov.uk, marked for the urgent attention of HHJ O’Dwyer, DJ Gibbons and DJ Hudd.

Henrietta Boyle, Pupil, 1 Hare Court

Sign up to our newsletter for weekly updates, resources and special offers: https://classlegal.com/newslet...

View Bag (0)