The Covid-19 pandemic has changed life for everyone and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Although many restrictions are now starting to be lifted, it seems likely that remote Court hearings will continue and may well become a permanent feature of the Family Court.
A remote hearing can take place via telephone, Microsoft Teams or the Court’s own video platform. You should be informed by the Court how your hearing will take place when you receive your hearing date.
Attending Court can be nerve wracking whether your hearing is in person or remote. It is helpful to remember that, although you may not physically be at Court, there is an expectation for the conditions of a remote hearing to replicate those of the Courtroom.
We have been engaging in remote hearings for over a year and have prepared the following tips to consider before and during your remote hearing:
- Make sure the Court has your up to date contact details. You should provide your telephone number and email address to the Court in plenty of time before the hearing to ensure you can be contacted. If the Court doesn’t have your contact details, the hearing may go ahead without you.
- If possible, make sure you test the technology before the hearing. This is particularly important when your hearing has been listed on a video platform. Make sure you have good internet connection and understand how to use your microphone and video functions. Court time is very limited and causing any delays to the hearing will impact on the time you have available.
- Make sure the device (laptop, tablet or mobile phone) you are using to attend the hearing is fully charged or plugged into a power source.
- Have a suitable background. If possible, it is best to use a blank background or blur your background. If this is not possible, ensure the location where you are sitting for the hearing is tidy.
- Wear what you would to Court. If your hearing is on a video platform there will be an expectation for you to be seen. It could be considered disrespectful if you are not dressed in the manner expected by the Court.
- You should only have water available. There is no food and drink allowed in a Court room aside from water and the same is to be said for remote hearings. It can be helpful to have water nearby should you need it.
- There should be no interruptions – this includes pets, children and deliveries. Make sure the room you are in has the door closed and no one can come in. If you are expecting a delivery, make other arrangements. It will not go down well if you leave the hearing to answer the door.
- If the hearing is on the telephone, you should still be in a quiet and private location. It is noticeable when a party is out and about on the telephone during a hearing.
- Switch your mobile phone to silent and, if you have a landline, ensure this is also on silent. If you anticipate you might receive an urgent call during the hearing which you need to answer, make the Court aware at the start of the hearing.
- Never record a Court Hearing, it is a criminal offence to do so. The Court will record the hearing and should you require a copy you can request this from the Court.
If you have a case through the Family Court we are able to offer specialist legal advice and represent you at any hearings you may have.