On the 21st February 2022 the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all COVID related restrictions would be easing. The COVID restrictions have had a direct impact on the way that family law is delivered and how the courts have worked.
There had been a number of proposed changes to modernise the family law system, but these have been brought forward as a result of the pandemic.
We have seen a number of changes as a result of the COVID restrictions including: –
- Appointments with clients undertaken remotely.
- The roll out of the online divorce portal, financial remedy portal and public law portal (involving care proceedings)
- Court hearings being undertaken remotely by telephone or video.
- Increased use of electronic communication and documentation.
It is difficult to see that we will entirely go back to how things were before COVID. A number of the changes are likely to stick around and change the way solicitors practice as well as how the courts work.
It is likely that a number of court hearings will continue to be undertaken remotely. Guidance has been given that the courts should use their judgment to determine which cases might require parties to attend at court. Hearings which are listed as a final hearing in which evidence would be given, are likely to require some or all of the parties to attend at court.
There are differences between how different courts deal with this and so it is not unusual to find one court dealing with something one way and another court dealing with things another. Ultimately it comes down to the particular case and giving consideration to what the parties or solicitors in the case suggest.
It is also likely that the courts will continue to require electronic documentation rather than paper documentation. This is something which has been taking place during the pandemic and the court are continuing to roll out new online portals to use to deal with cases and then for those cases to be administered.
At Clark Willis we continue to operate a hybrid working system. We will deliver services to our clients in a way they are most comfortable with, ensuring we are giving the best client service. This means we will work with you as to whether you would prefer to have face to face meetings with us or alternatively if you would prefer to have telephone or video call appointments.
If we can assist you in any way in relation to your case, then please feel free to contact us on 01325 281111 to speak to a member of our team.