Family Court Hearings

Are you worried about attending court online?

A year on since the initial Covid-19 lockdown we are still living under restrictions with socially distancing measures becoming a part of life.

The Courts now have adopted a standard position that Family Court hearings will be held remotely using telephone or video link. Only in certain circumstances is a Court-based hearing deemed to be necessary, usually to ensure fairness and in the interests of justice.

The Court will set up the links for all parties to join providing passwords and will provide brief instructions. This link will likely be provided by an instructed solicitor or from the Court directly. Initially the Courts would use platforms such as Skype or Zoom however they are now rolling out a platform named the “Cloud Video Platform.” You are likely to see this referred to as a CVP link.

Preparing for a video hearing

When preparing for a remote hearing you must consider what you will need. A device, ideally that is a computer, but items such as a tablet can be used as an alternative. Mobiles phones are discouraged due to the size of the screen and your ability to visually see the parties on the hearing link. The device would be required to have a camera function and a microphone to ensure you are able to communicate with the Court.

You should be in a private and quiet area. Remote hearings must be confidential, and all parties to the hearings must attend in private. This means that alternative care should be arranged for any children that you care for.

It is always encouraged that you test your device and ensure that all is working. Making sure you know how to access the hearing and familiarise yourself with the technology to assist you on the day. It is also advised you use this time to check your internet connection ensuring it is stable and reliable.


In the video hearing

The best way to prepare for your remote hearing is to prepare as if you were attending the Court. Presenting yourself as you would if you were at Court and upholding these standards is something the Court is keen to maintain. Make sure that you are logged into your device and on the hearing in good time. The Court can then admit you into the virtual hearing room. It is always good to consider turning your microphone to mute but do bear this in mind if you need to speak to the Court.

You may wish to have a glass of water, but hot beverages and food are not allowed. Mobile phones should be muted and not used during the hearings. Following Corona-Virus legislation, it is a contempt of Court to make any recording of a hearing, whether this be audio or, for example, by taking a screenshot during a video hearing without the Court's express permission.

After the hearing

After the hearing it is likely a further meeting will be set up to discuss the outcome and address any questions or concerns that you may have.

It is understandable that the changes in the traditional Court hearing routine may be a daunting thought, but your solicitor is there to help. If you have no method of joining a planned CVP hearing, your solicitor will work with you, to plan an alternative method or location so that you are able to access the hearing.

Posted on Apr 29, 2021

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