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Monday Morning : Remote Hearings : the courts lowdown

With guidance coming out daily about how best to conduct remote hearings, it’s hard to keep up. It’s made harder by different courts having preferred procedures.

Keeley Lengthorn, partner at MW Solicitors has teamed up with David McDonald from 1GC chambers to produce this helpful guide:

How is each Court dealing with remote hearings?

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

COURT

Notice period for adjournment

Type of medium being used for remote hearing

Contact name

RCJ

The Clerk of the Rules sends e-mails to the judges of queries/applications to assess what is urgent and what  can be listed as an urgent hearing.

Rcj.familyhighcourt@justice.gov.uk

The process is (in most cases)

For the application/request

Email received from legal representative in a case requesting for a remote hearing, in accordance with Presidents Guidance, all case and date details included.
Draft order attached
Email and/or draft order request sent to the reserved judge, or a judge to consider.
Once approved or otherwise, response sent to the legal representative/s confirming
On occasions the judges clerk may reply directly to legal representative including the generic mailbox

For the hearing

If known listing  legal representatives email is sent to the Judges clerk to liaise with parties regarding format and timing of the hearing, bundles etc
If not yet allocated in the list, such as shorter applications, as the daily cause list is prepared for the next day, judges clerks are provided with any incoming email in the case/s with contact details.
If legal representatives approach the generic mailbox to ask for the clerks details, email forwarded to the judges clerk and/or RCJ Family reply to the request providing the clerks email

Appeals

The President of the Family Division has directed that all appeals to the Family Division must be submitted by email to appeals.familydivision@Justice.gov.uk

The subject line of the e-mail should state ‘APPEAL TO HIGH COURT: NEW APPEAL’  If the appeal is urgent, this should be identified in the subject line.

All appellants, even those with PBA accounts or applying for fees exemption, will need to submit Form EX160B in relation to the issue fee in order to enable the Fees Office to process fees when the office re-opens. It is accepted that appeals may be issued and  it will NOT be possible to pay the fee within the 5 days specified on EX160B.

All documents in support of an appeal must be supplied in digital format, preferably PDF or Word.

Croydon

BT Conference call: Provide telephone numbers and the Court will dial you in.

Skype for business-Provide email address and get sent link (the recipient of the link does not have to pay for a Skype for business account- Only the person setting this up needs this.

family.croydon.countycourt@justice.gov.uk

and/or email the judges directly

FLA return dates are not being listed and the Respondent is being given liberty to apply back to Court to defend the application if he so wishes

CFC

FRC

FDA’s are being adjourned for 2 weeks as of Friday 27thMarch 2020

These Directions apply to all cases listed on or after 6th April up to and including Friday 1ST May 2020

In each case to which these directions apply, there is permission to apply to the court to vary or set aside the directions, as it may apply in that particular case. Any such application shall be made to cfc.fru@justice.gov.uk marked for the urgent attention of His Honour Judge O’Dwyer, District Judge Gibbons or District Judge Hudd.

DIRECTIONS IN RESPECT OF URGENT APPLICATIONS

1. Urgent applications include (but are not limited to) Maintenance Pending Suit, Interim Maintenance, Legal Services Payment Orders, applications under s37 MCA 1973 and Enforcement by D50K and D11.

2. In all such cases the parties shall identify within the application or confirm by email, no later than 7 days before the hearing or upon issue of the application if later, that they consider that the case is “urgent” and if so what factors are relied upon in support of the matter being urgent.

3. The court will determine the urgency under the overriding objective applying FPR 2010 r 1.4 taking account the submissions of the parties and the current public health emergency.

4. Where the court is satisfied as to the urgency of a hearing it will list a hearing which may take place on paper, remotely or in person, as the case requires.

5. If the court is satisfied that oral submissions are required the court shall list a remote hearing to take place or shall give directions to enable a hearing already listed to proceed as a remote hearing (see below “Where a remote hearing is necessary”).

DIRECTIONS IN RESPECT OF NON-URGENT HEARINGS:

• FIRST APPOINTMENTS
• FINANCIAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION APPOINTMENTS
• FINAL HEARINGS (INC PRE-TRIAL REVIEWS)
• DIRECTIONS HEARING
• MENTION HEARINGS

6. FIRST APPOINTMENTS: the parties shall, wherever possible, follow the Accelerated First Appointment procedure set out in the fourth schedule to the Financial Remedies Court Good Practice Protocol. Where the parties are unable to agree directions First Appointments shall proceed as listed but as a paper hearing only and no party or legal representative shall attend the

24. The current methods available for remote hearings supported by HMCTS are a. Meet Me
b. Skype for Business (by prior arrangement with the agreement of the judge)

Please note that other applications such as Zoom, Lifesize and Teams are not currently approved for remote use by HMCTS. It will be a matter for the allocated judge as to whether any alternative method is approved.

25. Electronic bundles are essential for ALL such hearings to proceed. The bundle must be searchable and electronically paginated. The provisions of FPR 2010 PD27A shall continue to apply.

26. Where the applicant is legally represented the applicant’s solicitor (or where the applicant is unrepresented, the respondent’s solicitor) shall take the lead in providing the court with the parties’ contact details and the lodging of the e-bundle.

27. Where both parties are unrepresented they shall each provide to the court by 10am on the day prior to the hearing their email address and contact telephone number and an electronic bundle containing the relevant documents for the hearing to proceed.

28. All documents must be lodged by email save in exceptional circumstances.

29. 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.

WHERE PERSONAL ATTENDANCE IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY (“IN PERSON HEARINGS”)

30. Where any party considers that the arrangements set out in this notice will not enable the court fairly to conduct a hearing, whether because of security or privacy issues or for other reasons, and where that party therefore considers it to be necessary for some or all of the parties and/or their legal representatives to personally attend at court for the purposes of any hearing they shall set out their reasons either (i) in any application made to the court or (ii) no less than 7 days before the date of any remote hearing listed within the relevant proceedings.

31. Where any request is made for the court to convene an “in person” hearing the court will consider whether the hearing can proceed:

(i) as a remote hearing or

(ii) partly as a remote hearing and partly as an in person hearing or

(iii) whether the interests of fairness and justice require the attendance of all parties and their legal representatives

and, in the event the court considers that any party or their legal representative must attend an in person hearing it shall have regard to the available resources and the safe arrangements required to be put in place in order for any such hearing to proceed.

HEARINGS LISTED ON OR AFTER 4TH MAY 2020

32. Hearings listed on or after Monday 4th May 2020 currently remain listed and shall be heard remotely, subject to appropriate technology being confirmed to be available and resources being

identified. However, future listing arrangements must necessarily remain subject to review and may be subject to further Notices and Directions.

33. Where parties consider that 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 consider the period of time during which any proposed adjournment or stay is proposed to operate. The court will list the matter for a remote mention hearing on the first available date after 6 months unless otherwise ordered. Any such application should be submitted by email (cfc.fru@Justice.gov.uk) marked for the urgent attention of HHJ O’Dwyer, District Judge Gibbons and District Judge Hudd

34. Where parties consider that any hearing listed on or after 4th 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 reasons they are encouraged to make any such application promptly (cfc.fru@Justice.gov.uk) marked for the urgent attention of HHJ O’Dwyer, District Judge Gibbons and District Judge Hudd to assist the court in allocating available judicial resources to hear contested cases remotely over the coming weeks.

BT Conference call: Provide telephone numbers and the Court will dial you in.

cfc.listoffice@Justice.gov.uk

By no later than 48 hours before the telephone hearing the respondent must send to the court office at cfc.fru@justice.gov.uk AND to cfc.telephonehearings.gov.uk/cfc.fru@justice.gov.uk   the telephone number that he/she will be using for the telephone hearing and confirmation of his/her email address AND must be available on that telephone line at the time of the hearing.

By no later than 48 hours before any telephone hearing all parties  must send to the court office at cfc.fru@justice.gov.uk AND at cfc.telephonehearings.gov.uk/cfc.fru@justice.gov.uk  the telephone numbers that they will be using for the telephone hearing and confirmation of their email addresses. Where parties are legally represented this information may be provided by their Solicitor or Barrister who shall provide their own telephone numbers and email addresses and those of the party that they represent;

FRC

cfc.fru@justice.gov.uk

marked for the urgent attention of His Honour Judge O’Dwyer, District Judge Gibbons or District Judge Hudd.

Bromley

See below guidance from Westferry

Pow Wow: The remote hearing arrangements are that the Court will dial in less than 5 parties/advocates, and wemust send them the telephone number that you want to be dialled in 36 hours ahead of the hearing.  The Court will allocate a specific hearing time for each case.

 

Filing.Bromley.CountyCourt@justice.gov.uk or contact the Judges directly

Westferry

Public Law hearings

From Monday 30th March until Friday 1st May 2020, ELFC will be offering a scaled down service at Westferry.  Unless agreed by the Judge in front of whom the case is listed, the default position during this time will be that the court will only be hearing urgent cases and those urgent cases will be heard remotely.

It will be the responsibility of every Judge to ensure that cases are adjourned with a further remote hearing diarised or a mention listed for the file to be reviewed and within no more than 28 days

FHDRAs

Listed before DJs will be subject to ongoing review by the on-duty DJ who will decide at least 48 hours before whether any of the listed cases can realistically be managed by a remote hearing and will arrange that listing before a WFH Judge.  It is expected that legal advisors will carry out the same exercise for FHDRAs listed before Magistrates.

Injunctions

The non-mol return date lists will be listed before a WFH Judge (to be rotated between all Judges) with no more than 3 listed in the morning and 2 in the afternoon (30 mins each). These will be dealt with on paper by emailing the Court office.

All injunctions must be emailed to the following email address eastlondonfamilyenquiries@Justice.gov.uk They will then be dealt with on paper. The email must be clearly marked “ex parte NMO  and marked URGENT

South Coast/Sussex

Public Law

cases listed between now and Easter for over half a day have been listed for a directions hearing to discuss the viability of those hearings and whether they can be dealt with remotely. This will be extended to cases listed before the end of April

Private Law

FHDRA’s are continuing. Telephone interviews are being conducted.

injunctions

DJ Clarke will be producing a protocol for injunctions but that is not expected for a week or so.

The leading platforms are Skype for Business and Zoom.

There are technological challenges in relation to both, which we are working on. Hoping to be offering video hearings by 3rd April 2020 .

Helen.Evennett@coolebevisllp.com

“Brighton have asked for details to be sent to them to dial out the parties, they are using a system called BT Meet Me, they will require the name and telephone number of anyone joining the call to be e-mailed to sussexlisting@justice.gov.uk the e-mails should have the court reference number and date of hearing in the title line. “

They said they had already e-mailed parties legal representatives, although my sols said they’d not received anything.

Slough

Officially closed and so any Slough case will be either transferred to reading for a telephone hearing using a reading conference number or duly vacated.

Barnet and West London

 

the Courts require the following from the LA/ Applicant in one email;  

 

–          Email copy of the bundle and any additional documents.

–          Telephone details for each party – clearly separated and labelled with counsel name (they will dial out)

Kent:

Canterbury

Medway

Dartford

Court closed for face to face hearings

Magistrates Court: Only taking place in Medway and Canterbury for FHDRAs, agreed directions hearings or short matters that are not contested. All other matters are being re-allocated to Judges or vacated  

All Barristers and Solicitors to contact the office in the usual way with queries and they will be directed onwards.  (family.medway.countycourt@justice.gov.uk).  Do not contact a Legal Advisor direct until advised or invited to do so.

Keeley Lengthorn: MW Solicitors

David McDonald: 1GC Family Law

As of 2nd April 2020