The Family Courts are to move to “remote” hearings with immediate effect, except where the requirements of fairness and justice require a court-based hearing, and it is safe to conduct one.
In National Guidance for the Family Court, issued today, 19th March 2020, by the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane says there is a need to avoid non-essential personal contact and that reasonable precautions must be taken in what are “exceptional and unprecedented times”.
Said Fathers4Justice founder Matt O’Connor; “It has been clear for a number of weeks that it was irresponsible to put the health and lives of thousands of dads and other court users at risk by insisting courts remained open despite the threat of COVID-19.”
“We have long called for remote hearings, which can also be recorded by the parties, but HMCTS and the Ministry of Justice have failed to put in place the necessary technology to support this.”
“We hope that they will quickly and efficiently put these systems in place so separated dads are not further disadvantaged by further delays, or by opportunistic mothers seeking to use the virus as an excuse to disrupt contact.”
READ THE PRESIDENT’S GUIDANCE HERE: PRESIDENT’S GUIDANCE