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Monday Morning :Remote Hearings, part 2

How is each Court dealing with remote hearings?

*the information provided below is that within our knowledge and is not official HMCTS guidance *

COURT

GUIDANCE FROM THIS COURT

CFC

PLAN FOR WORKING AT CFC UNTIL END APRIL 2020

The following hearings are being heard:

1.All directions and case management hearings:

2 Public Law Children

Emergency Protection Orders
Interim Care Orders
Issue Resolution Hearings;

3.Private Law Children:

–  First Hearing Dispute

Resolution Appointments

Dispute Resolution Appointments
Other interim hearings
Simple short contested cases

4. Injunction applications –  – where there is no evidence that is to be heard (or only limited evidence)

5.Financial Cases (separate guidance)

6.Appeals

7.Other hearings as directed by the judge concerned.

Telephone hearings will be listed at 1½ hour intervals, at 10am, 11.30am, 2pm and 3.30pm with judges dealing with four such cases a day, unless an individual judge otherwise directs a longer hearing. Such a direction should only be given after consultation with the Designated Family Judge.

all final hearings and fact finding hearings until the end of April 2020 will be adjourned. If a directions hearing has not already been listed, it shall take place on the day or first day of the otherwise adjourned final hearing. The directions hearing shall be listed, if possible, before the allocated judge if there is one

Bundles

It is essential to work remotely in private law cases for the judge to receive a pdf bundle. In accordance with PD27A, if the Applicant is represented it will be for his/her solicitors. If the Respondent is represented and the Applicant is not, for the Respondent’s solicitors. If Litigants in Person, the standard directions provide for them to produce limited information.

Orders

The orders and Notices to be used are attached to this guidance.  They have been approved by the FDLJ.  They are:

i. Standard directions public law

ii.   Standard directions private law

iii. Standard directions vacating final hearing

iv.  Standard directions for remote hearing

 

 

In the Family Court ​ ​             No: _________

Sitting at the Central Family Court  

IN THE MATTER OF THE CHILDREN ACT 1989

BEFORE _______________________ ON ________.

UPON the Court determining that in the exceptional circumstances of the current national public health emergency this case is suitable for hearing remotely (‘remote hearing’) by means of telephone.

BY ITS OWN MOTION IT IS ORDERED THAT:

1. All hearings in this matter shall take place by way of remote hearing pursuant to FPR 2010 r 4.1(3)(e) unless the court directs otherwise.
2. The standard directions contained in the attached Notice shall apply.
3. This hearing presently listed on ________ shall be conducted remotely at [am/pm] on [​​] with a time estimate of [​​].
4. No unauthorised person may be present at this hearing. If asked, you must be able to confirm that no unauthorised person is in attendance or able to listen to the hearing.
5. The hearing will be recorded for or by the court and you are not permitted to make any recording yourself.   To do so is a contempt of court and a criminal offence and may be punished accordingly.   This is because the hearing is confidential.  

 

 

In the Family Court ​ ​             No: _________

Sitting at the Central Family Court  

IN THE MATTER OF THE CHILDREN ACT 1989

BEFORE _______________________ SITTING AT _______ ON ________.

UPON the Court determining that in the exceptional circumstances of the current national public health emergency this case is suitable for hearing remotely (‘remote hearing’) by means of telephone.

BY ITS OWN MOTION IT IS ORDERED THAT:

6. All hearings in this matter shall take place by way of remote hearing pursuant to FPR 2010 r 4.1(3)(e) unless the court directs otherwise.
7. The standard directions contained in the attached Notice shall apply.
8. The final hearing presently listed on ________ is vacated save that it shall be listed as a remote Directions Hearing on that date at [am/pm] before [] sitting at the Central Family Court with a time estimate of 1 hour.
9. No unauthorised person may be present at this hearing. If asked, you must be able to confirm that no unauthorised person is in attendance or able to listen to the hearing.
10. The hearing will be recorded for or by the court and you are not permitted to make any recording yourself.   To do so is a contempt of court and a criminal offence and may be punished accordingly.   This is because the hearing is confidential.  
11. If a party contends that an urgent hearing is required before the date in 3. above they should so inform the court by telephone or by email to cfc.telephonehearing@justice.gov.uksetting out the nature of the urgency and the date sought for a hearing.

 

STANDARD DIRECTIONS IN PUBLIC LAW CASES

12. The parties and any representatives shall attend all directions hearings by way of telephone.
13. The default position, unless advised otherwise by the court, is that the hearing will be conducted by means of the BT MeetMe system.  
14. Service of court orders in this case shall be effected by electronic email.
15. The parties shall arrange and attend remotely an Advocates Meeting no less than 48 hours before the directions hearing.
16. The applicant shall be responsible for informing the court office at cfc.telephonehearing@justice.gov.uk of the necessary contact details for the parties and their representatives where these are needed to facilitate the remote hearing.   This shall include email and telephone details.  The court shall be informed if any of the contact details must remain confidential.
17. The applicant must confirm the details of the arrangements for the hearing to the other parties by no later than 24 hours prior to the remote hearing taking place.  
18. All documents shall be lodged with the court by electronic mail save in exceptional circumstances and any email sent to the court concerning the case shall contain, in the subject line, the case name, the case number and the date of the hearing.
19. The applicant shall by 1600 hrs on the day before the hearing electronically file a PDF bundle, which must include:
(a) A case summary and chronology;
(b) The parties’ position statements;
(c) The previous orders that are relevant to the remote hearing;
(d) All essential documents that the court requires to determine the issues that fall for determination at the remote hearing;
(e) A draft order.

STANDARD DIRECTIONS IN PRIVATE LAW CHILDREN’S CASES

All Cases.

20. The parties and any representatives shall attend all directions hearings by way of telephone.
21. The default position, unless advised otherwise by the court, is that the hearing will be conducted by means of the BT MeetMe system.  
22. Service of court orders in this case shall be effected by electronic email.

Cases in which at least one party is known to have a lawyer representing them

23. If represented by a lawyer, the applicant shall be responsible for informing the court office at cfc.telephonehearing@justice.gov.uk of (i) the telephone numbers for the parties and their representatives which are to be used for the remote hearing; and, (ii) an email address for each party and representative.  
24. The court shall be informed if any of the contact details must remain confidential.
25. If represented by a lawyer, the applicant must confirm the details of the arrangements for the hearing to the other parties by no later than 24 hours prior to the remote hearing taking place.  
26. All documents shall be lodged with the court by electronic mail save in exceptional circumstances and any email sent to the court concerning the case shall contain, in the subject line, the case name, the case number and the date of the hearing.
27. If represented by a lawyer, the applicant shall by 1600 hrs on the day before the hearing electronically file a PDF bundle, which must include:
(f) A case summary and chronology;
(g) A position statement from each party (if one is available in the case of an unrepresented party);
(h) The previous orders that are relevant to the remote hearing;
(i) All essential documents that the court requires to determine the issues that fall for determination at the remote hearing;
(j) A draft order.
28. If it is only the, or a, respondent who is legally represented then the duties in paragraphs 4-8 above shall fall on that respondent – if there is more than one respondent who is represented then the duties are on the first represented respondent (e.g. the father before the guardian).

Cases in which no-one has a lawyer representing them, or in which a party is unsure if there is a lawyer.  

29. Not less than 24 hours before the hearing each party (e.g. both the mother and the father) shall send the following to the court office by email to cfc.telephonehearing@justice.gov.uk.  You must state the name of the case, its serial number and the date of the hearing in the subject line of your email.  
a Your telephone number, a landline if you have one, a mobile number if not.
b A short document setting out what you want the court to do and why.
c A copy of any document which you want the court to look at – for example an important earlier order of the court, a letter from the child’s school etc..  
30. If you wish any of your contact details to be confidential, then say so in your email.
31. You will be contacted by the court office and told the detail of the arrangements for the hearing.    
32. Even if you have not heard from the court be ready to answer your telephone at the time the hearing is due to start.   The hearing may not start promptly for technical reasons, so do not move away from your telephone during the 90 minutes allowed for the hearing.

COURT

 

GUIDANCE FROM THIS COURT

RCJ

The wording for orders for Port Alerts and orders pertaining to passports are set out below:

 

 

Wording for Port Alerts. (Continuation).

 

IT IS ORDERED THAT: The port alerts currently in place pursuant to the Collection order directed to the Tipstaff and issued on the 00 Month Year in respect of; [enter full names], do continue until the conclusion of the next to be heard on the 00 Month Year, at which the court will make further directions as to their continuance or discharge.

 

Wording for Port Alerts (Discharge).

 

IT IS ORDERED THAT: The port alerts currently in place pursuant to the Collection order directed to the Tipstaff and issued on the 00 Month Year in respect of; [enter full names], are hereby discharged.

 

Wording for Passports. (Continued Retention).

 

IT IS ORDERED THAT: All passports, identity cards and or travel documents currently held by the Tipstaff pursuant to the Collection order directed to the Tipstaff and issued on the 00 Month Year in respect of; [enter full names], do continue to be held by the Tipstaff until the conclusion of the next to be heard on the 00 Month Year, at which the court will make further directions as to their continued retention or return.

 

Wording for Passports. (Return).

 

IT IS ORDERED THAT: The Tipstaff do upon service of a sealed copy of this order return all passports, identity cards and or travel documents relating to; [enter full names], currently held by the Tipstaff pursuant to the Collection order directed to the Tipstaff and issued on the 00 Month Year, to [enter details of who documents are to be returned]

 

 

COURT

 

GUIDANCE FROM THIS COURT

South Coast

FHDRA

 

Involvement on the day

On the day of the FHDRA – the Judge or Legal Adviser and the FCA will have a skype call to discuss how the day will work.  The FCA will be responsible for setting up the skype call and inviting the Judge in at 9.
Making contact with parties where there is missing information and emailing this into the court before the hearing begins.
Being part of the hearing – if requested by the Judge/Legal Advisers.
Providing advice before or after the hearing
Contacting parties if they have not received a copy of the SL in advance (because we do not have their email address or because the SL contains risk and the disclosure needs to be approved)
Identify which cases will be “looked after” by which FCA
If updates are provided to the court following further communication between Cafcass and the parties (or SW etc) – this will be emailed to the court and the Judge/Legal Advisor will read it out during the hearing – can also be emailed to parties ahead of the hearing.

After the hearing

The Judge/Legal Advisor will be responsible for emailing the FCA’s with the outcomes of each hearing.
Helpful for Judge/Legal Advisor to Skype at end of day if time permits
Agreed orders before Tier 1 – the Family Bench will approve these at 16.00 remotely
Cases needing a decision from Tier 1 to be referred to the Judge as and when for consideration at 15.00 or before if time allows

 

 

Lists

Gatekeeping to continue to allocate cases in accordance with the President’s guide

Current listing arrangements to continue

Tier 1 – no more than 3 FHRDAs to be listed and no list at 15.00 – 16.00.

Tier 2 – no more than 5 FHRDAs to be listed and no list at 15.00 – 16.00.

 

Additional cases such as FLA injunctions, C79s and PSOs are not to be listed before a Judge running a FHDRA list unless one of the 4 slots prior to 15.00 remains free

 

Documents

Given some hearings will be remote the documentation needs to be limited to the list below

Any previous order if filed with the application or acknowledgment of service

C1A form(s) if any 

Any safeguarding report from Cafcass (who may not know which judge to send them to)

Any report from the local authority

Any draft order or position statement

 

HMCTS Role

Use the new order
One week before FHDRA list to be sent to SEITgeneric and to local CAFCASS direct
the day before hearing

For any judge who is working remotely away from court, the court will ensure that the following documents are emailed to the judge no later than 3pm on the day before the FHDRA list:

Application

Any statement filed with the application or acknowledgment of service

Any previous order if filed with the application or acknowledgment of service

C1A form(s) if any 

Any safeguarding report from Cafcass (who may not know which judge to send them to)

Any report from the local authority

Any draft order or position statement

 

Orders

 

As below

 

Family Law Act applications

 

1. EX PARTE APPLICATIONS

Ex parte hearings will normally be done by telephone.

On issue, the court must identify a telephone number for the Applicant (or their solicitor) and must check whether it is safe for the court to call them on that number for a hearing (eg the parties may live in the same home).

The court shall attempt to obtain from the Applicant a telephone number for the Respondent for hearings, and an email/WhatsApp address for service.

The court shall email the application and witness statement and any draft order to an available District Judge for an urgent decision about whether the hearing is to be ex parte and whether it can be done by telephone.  The DJ will give listing directions and will if appropriate forward the email to the DJ who will hear the application.

If a party submits a draft order it must be in Word format without tracked changes.  Any order submitted as a PDF is unlikely to be used.

2. THE ex parte HEARING

The hearing will normally take place using BT MeetMe to be set up in the usual way.

These applications are suitable for hearing by a judge working at home.

The normal time estimate will be 15 minutes plus 15 minutes for connection.

3. THE ORDER

During the hearing the District Judge will discuss with the Applicant how the order is to be served.

The DJ will email the order to the court if working remotely.

The Order will include the start/finish times of the hearing and a note of the advocate attending if the party has legal aid.

The DJ will provide any specific directions about the return date as usual.

4. SERVICE OF THE ORDER

If the Applicant is represented, their solicitor shall serve the Respondent.  If they are not, the court will serve them.  

If the Applicant is to serve:
The Applicant’s solicitor shall first consider whether a process server may be instructed.  Failing that, the order may be served by email/text message/Whatsapp to the Respondent and a copy shall be posted to them by the solicitor.  Where possible a Delivery & Read Receipt must be requested and added to the court file.

Within 24 hours of service the Applicant must email a statement of service to the court.

This alternative method of service has been authorised under Family Procedure Rule 6.19 due to the exceptional circumstances of the current national public health emergency.

If the court is to serve:

The court will consider whether a court officer such as the court bailiff can serve using gov.uk notification service.  Failing that, the order may be served by email/text message/Whatsapp to the Respondent and a copy shall be posted to them by the court.  Where possible a Delivery & Read Receipt must be requested and added to the court file.  

The court will serve a copy of the order on the police.

The court will also provide the Applicant with a second sealed copy of the order.  In the event that the Applicant needs to call the police, the Applicant may request the police to effect service of the second copy on the Respondent.

5. RETURN DATES/ON NOTICE HEARINGS

These will normally take place using BT MeetMe to be set up in the usual way.

These applications are suitable for hearing by a judge working at home.

If a judge is working at home, the court office will email the following documents to the judge:
-the application

-the ex parte order (if any)

-any witness statements filed by the parties

– proof of service

The normal time estimate will be 30 minutes  and 15 minutes between hearings to allow for connection difficulties.

6. UNDERTAKINGS

Undertakings are unlikely to be appropriate because they cannot be signed or personally served.    There may be exceptions if the undertaking is submitted in writing in advance and is then given formally over the phone with the appropriate warnings.

7. OCCUPATION ORDERS

An application for an occupation order, as distinct from an injunction excluding a party from an address or a named area, will be referred to a district judge to consider whether it can be heard remotely.

8. FACT-FINDING

Guidance for fact-finding hearings to take place remotely should be consulted when it becomes available.

9. ORDERS

Please see below suggested draft directions for hearing and paragraphs to be added to the injunction order concerning service and to replace the FAS form for advocates.

 

 

the High Court of Justice​​             No: _________

Family Division /

The Family Court

IN THE MATTER OF __________________________

AND IN THE MATTER OF ________________________ CHILDREN

BEFORE _______________________ SITTING AT _______ ON ________.

RECITALS

UPON the Court determining that in the exceptional circumstances of the current national public health emergency this case should be heard remotely (‘remote hearing’) by means of telephone or sykpe.

AND UPON the Applicants application for an Order under the Children Act 1989

AND UPON face to face meetings with the Family Court advisor of CAFCASS having been suspended;

AND UPON CAFCASS endeavouring to complete all safeguarding letters (which shall include conducting telephone interviews prior to the hearing);

AND UPON CAFCASS providing any updates to the Court on the morning of the hearing;

AND UPON CAFCASS being available by telephone throughout the hearing should further guidance be required by the Court;

AND UPON any party who is represented being in e mail contact with their Advocate during the hearing to provide instructions;

AND UPON Tier 1 cases being conducted by the Legal Advisor in the absence of Tier 1 Judges;

AND UPON a Tier 2 Judge being available to deal with matters arising;

AND UPON the Court using a telephone conference system. The Court will telephone the parties from the Court room. Please see guidance contained in the letter which accompanies this Order

AND UPON the Court limiting the documents to

The C100 or C79 application

Any previous order if filed with the application or acknowledgment of service

C1A form(s) if any 

Any safeguarding report from Cafcass (who may not know which judge to send them to)

Any report from the local authority

Any draft order or position statement

BY ITS OWN MOTION

IT IS ORDERED THAT:

1. All hearings in this matter shall take place by way of remote hearing pursuant to FPR 2010 r 4.3 unless the court directs otherwise.
2. The parties and their representatives shall attend all hearings by way of BT Meet Me Conferencing
3. HMCTS shall ensure that the hearing is recorded
4. The Case is allocated to Tier _____________________________________
5. [Where the application is for enforcement of a Child Arrangements Order, and more than three months have passed since the making of the order] Cafcass / CAFCASS Cymru shall, within 17 working days of receipt of this order, send to the court a safeguarding letter in respect of the parties.  

HEARING BY TELEPHONE

6. The First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA) shall take place

(a) on [date]
(b) at [time]
(c) at [name and address of relevant Family Court]

This shall be a remote hearing

PROVIDING THE COURT WITH YOUR NUMBER

7. The parties and/or representatives must immediately contact the Court either by  

e mail ​​

telephone

by post

and give details of a telephone number (preferably a land line) on which they can be contacted for this hearing.

If appropriate we need the lawyer and party’s numbers if they are attending separately on separate telephones

HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO CAFCAS ?

8. You will be contacted by CAFCASS to arrange a telephone appointment with them. When CAFCASS ask you to telephone them it is then important for you to contact CAFCASS. If a party fails to contact CAFCASS for a telephone appointment a few days before the hearing this might resulting the hearing being adjourned to a later date.

MACKENZIE FRIEND

9. If a party wishes to apply to be assisted by a MacKenzieFriend:-

a. the MacKenzie Friend must read the guidance which can be found at https://www.judiciary.uk/publications/mckenzie-friends/ and
b. complete the standard form (a copy of which is sent along with the guidance sheet)
c. return the standard form to the Court by e mail no later than 24 hours before the hearing
d. the Mackenzie Friend must be in contact with the party by e mail.
e. The Mackenzie Friend cannot address the Court but only provide support as detailed in the practice guidance
f. The Mackenzie Friend must give the Court a contact number  

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE CONDUCT OF HEARINGS

PENAL NOTICE

This applies to the Orders set out below

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ALL PARTIES

YOU MUST OBEY THIS ORDER. You should read it carefully. If you do not understand anything in this order you should go to a solicitor, Legal Advice Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau. You have a right to apply to the court to change or cancel the order.

WARNING: IF, WITHOUT REASONABLE EXCUSE, YOU DISOBEY THIS ORDER YOU MAY BE HELD IN CONTEMPT OF COURT AND MAY BE IMPRISONED, FINED OR HAVE YOUR ASSETS SEIZED

ANY OTHER PERSON WHO KNOWS OF THIS ORDER AND DOES ANYTHING WHICH HELPS OR PERMITS THE RESPONDENT TO BREACH THE TERMS OF THIS ORDER MAY ALSO BE HELD TO BE IN CONTEMPT OF COURT AND MAY BE IMPRISONED, FINED OR HAVE THEIR ASSETS SEIZED

10. No unauthorised person may be present at this hearing. When asked, each party to the hearing must confirm who is in attendance with them.

11. All parties are forbidden from recording this hearing. They are further forbidden from allowing anyone else to record the hearing.

12. All parties are forbidden from putting any information from this hearing on the internet any form whatsoever including social media.

Dated _________________

NON-MOLESTATION INJUNCTION; DIRECTIONS FOR REMOTE HEARING

BY THE COURT’S OWN MOTION IT IS ORDERED THAT:

6. All hearings in this matter shall take place by way of remote hearing pursuant to FPR 2010 r 4.3 unless the court directs otherwise.
7. The parties and their representatives shall attend all hearings by way of BT Meet Me Conferencing/video conferencing.  Please see the information sheet that accompanies this order.
8. HMCTS shall ensure that the hearing is recorded
9. The Case is allocated to Tier _____________________________________

HEARING BY TELEPHONE

5. The next hearing of this application shall take place by telephone/video conferencing

(d) on [date]
(e) at [time]
(f) at [name and address of relevant Family Court]

PROVIDING THE COURT WITH YOUR NUMBER

6. The parties and/or representatives must immediately contact the Court either by  

e mail or telephone or post

and give details of a telephone number (preferably a land line) on which they can be contacted for this hearing.

If a party is attending with a lawyer on separate telephones then both numbers are required.

SENDING EVIDENCE TO THE COURT

7.The Respondent may file written evidence in response to the Application by emailing it to the court and to the Applicant or by sending it through the post to the court and the Applicant to ensure that it arrives no later than 3 days before the hearing date.

MACKENZIE FRIEND

8. If a party wishes to ask for permission to be assisted by a MacKenzie Friend:-

g. the MacKenzie Friend must read the guidance which can be found at https://www.judiciary.uk/publications/mckenzie-friends/  and
h. complete the standard form (a copy of which is available with the guidance sheet)
i. return the standard form to the Court by e mail no later than 24 hours before the hearing
j. the Mackenzie Friend must be in contact with the party during the hearing by e mail or text.
k. The Mackenzie Friend cannot address the Court but only provide support as detailed in the practice guidance
l. The Mackenzie Friend must give the Court a contact number  

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE CONDUCT OF HEARINGS

PENAL NOTICE

This applies to the Orders set out below

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ALL PARTIES

YOU MUST OBEY THIS ORDER. You should read it carefully. If you do not understand anything in this order you should go to a solicitor, Legal Advice Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau. You have a right to apply to the court to change or cancel the order.

WARNING: IF, WITHOUT REASONABLE EXCUSE, YOU DISOBEY THIS ORDER YOU MAY BE HELD IN CONTEMPT OF COURT AND MAY BE IMPRISONED, FINED OR HAVE YOUR ASSETS SEIZED

ANY OTHER PERSON WHO KNOWS OF THIS ORDER AND DOES ANYTHING WHICH HELPS OR PERMITS THE RESPONDENT TO BREACH THE TERMS OF THIS ORDER MAY ALSO BE HELD TO BE IN CONTEMPT OF COURT AND MAY BE IMPRISONED, FINED OR HAVE THEIR ASSETS SEIZED

9. No unauthorised person may be present at this hearing. When asked, each party to the hearing must confirm who is in attendance with them.

10. All parties are forbidden from recording this hearing. They are further forbidden from allowing anyone else to record the hearing.

11. All parties are forbidden from putting any information from this hearing on the internet in any form whatsoever including social media.

Draft dated 2 April 2020

CLAUSES TO BE ADDED TO NON-MOLESTATION INJUNCTION; COVID-19

 

SERVICE

1. The Applicant shall ensure that this order is servedon the Respondent but shall not try to serve it in person.
2. The Applicant shall first consider whether a process server is available.
3. If not, this order may be served by email/text message/WhatsApp to —-.  Where possible a Delivery & Read Receipt must be requested and filed at court.
4. The Applicant shall file a statement of service by email to the court within 24 hours from effective service stating where and when the Respondent was served.
5. This alternative method of service has been authorised under Family Procedure Rule 6.19 due to the exceptional circumstances of the current national public health emergency.

OR

6. The court will serve this order on the Respondent by email/text message/WhatsApp to —-.  Where possible a Delivery & Read Receipt must be requested and filed.
7. This alternative method of service has been authorised under Family Procedure Rule 6.19 due to the exceptional circumstances of the current national public health emergency.

PUBLIC FUNDING

This applies to cases where the Applicant/Respondent has public funding.  As this hearing has been conducted remotely no FAS form has been completed;

Name of advocate(s) ——————————————————————————

Hearing start time———————————–Hearing finish time–———————–

 

 

 

Keeley Lengthorn: MW Solicitors

Keeley.lengthorn@mwsolicitors.co.uk

David McDonald: 1GC Family Law

mcdonald@1gc.com

As of 9th April 2020