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Remote Hearings in Family Proceedings – Justice From The Comfort Of Your Own Home?

29th July 2021

It has been over 16 months since we entered the first lock down, and many of us have become dab hands at video calls on platforms we hadn’t even heard of before March 2020. Zoom, Teams and Facetime became the norm and although they work excellently for family catch ups and weekly quizzes, can you really have an effective Hearing via video link?

Many clients have told us that the whole process is quite overwhelming, especially if it is the first Court Hearing. As well as the stress of preparing for a Hearing, there is also the added pressure of making sure the technology is working correctly, something which can be extremely stressful for parties. Now that lockdown is easing, we offer clients the option of attending our offices to sit with us during Hearings to take away the stress of setting up the technical aspect, and to make them feel more included. It can feel terribly isolating sat at home whilst relative strangers discuss your most personal of problems on video link, and we feel it is important that clients are aware that this is still their case and should feel entirely involved in it.

Going forward, it does look as though the Courts will revert back to listing some Hearings in person, but it does seem probable that CVP (Cloud Video Platform) and telephone appointments are here to stay. As such, we have compiled a short list of how best to ready yourself for a remote Hearing:

1. Be prepared. Make sure your technology is working and fully charged. Most of the Courts provide a link for you to have a trial run of the CVP platform, make sure you use it to ensure your device can open it. If it is a telephone Hearing, make sure you provide your telephone number to the Court and that it is either a landline, or a mobile with good reception.

2. Dress appropriately. We have all seen the jokes on social media about people dressing up on the top half and wearing joggers on the bottom, but just remember that you only get one chance at a first impression so make sure that the bit of you that the camera is showing is appropriately dressed and presentable.

3. The same goes for the room you are in. The Judge will stress to you that these are private proceedings and you must make sure that you are in a quiet room away from other people and disruptions. Make sure that you have sorted child care and that there are going to be no interruptions, such as animals or children in the background. You really do have to treat it as a Court room and the same rules apply.

4. Make sure you mute and unmute accordingly. The Judge will ask everyone to mute who isn’t speaking to make sure there is no feedback or background noise. Make sure you remember to unmute yourself when you are required to talk and to re-mute when you have finished.

5. If you are legally represented, make sure you have a way of contacting your advisor. As above, this is your case and you should always be able to contact your lawyer throughout the Hearing to provide them with instructions and to ask questions. Either have their mobile to send them a discreet message, or leave a chat function open on something like Zoom to ensure you can reach them. Make sure you don’t use the chat function on the CVP link as messages will be sent to all parties.

For further advice about handling remote Hearings, or for a free 30 minute consultation regarding divorce, separation and children maters, contact the family team on 01243 786668 or at info@georgeide.co.uk

Alice Leadbeatter. Solicitor, Family department.

Family Law, General, News
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