Covid-19 … where matters stand

Our aim, during this difficult time, is to ensure continuity of business and to maintain high standards of service.

We would, therefore, like to update all clients – existing and potential – as to where matters currently stand: –

•        We are designated as Keyworkers – as we undertake Court hearings (which are ongoing), and the stated aim of the Family Justice system is to “keep business going safely”.
•        Our office is open – some support staff are working from home (we are linked by telephone and email) – and we are working to offer a seamless and continuing service to you.
•        Appointments can be made and will be undertaken by telephone.
•        We are operating our usual opening hours (9am to 5pm) so please continue to use the office number or, if the matter is urgent or requires attention out of normal business hours, then utilise the business mobile number (07966 110711).
•        The Courts continue to operate.

To summarise –
•        All Family Hearings – both relating to Children and relating to Financial Matters within Divorce, where they have been listed for a hearing will proceed but will be dealt with remotely.
•        If you have been given notice of a hearing date by us, then that hearing will proceed on that date, at that time but will be conducted not in person but by telephone.
•        Only in exceptional circumstances will you be required to actually attend Court in person.
•        Hearings will be organised through facilities such as BT Legal. The hearing will proceed in a formal way, just as it would do if you were physically present, for example, the telephone hearing will be recorded as your Court hearing would have been should you have attended in normal times.
•        On the day of the hearing, you will be contacted by a BT Conference Co-ordinator on the telephone number we hold on our system for you. If you change your phone number – please update us with your new number straight away, so that we can ensure the contact details we hold for you are correct.
•        The BT Conference Co-ordinator will contact you 5 minutes before the start time of the hearing. You will then be joined into hearing. It is vital that you ensure your phone is on and that you have good phone signal at least 15 minutes before the hearing start time For example, if your hearing is due to take place at 11.00 am – you must ensure your phone is on and that you have good signal by no later than 10.45 am. You would then be called at approximately 10.55 am by the BT Conference Co-ordinator.

Financial Applications –
•        The First Appointment should, if at all possible, be agreed – i.e. directions for how your case progresses should be agreed with the other side and an Agreed Order presented to the District Judge for approval – so, no telephone appointment. It is only if no Order could be agreed, then a telephone appointment would be scheduled as described above.
•        Financial Dispute Resolution Appointments – If you agree terms and a Final Order, then that Order will be sent to the District Judge for approval – you do not then attend a telephone hearing. If matters cannot be agreed, then there will be a telephone hearing.
•        Final Contested Hearings – they may have to be dealt with in person because of the need to hear evidence.

Applications relating to your Children
•        If matters can be agreed at any time, the details will be incorporated in an Agreed Order and sent to the Court for approval – you do not then to attend Court.
•        If there are hearings, because matters cannot be agreed, then unless the Court say it is an exceptional matter, you will not attend Court and the hearing will proceed by telephone.
•        We are aware that parents who are separating may have experienced some confusion about, for example, the requirements of an existing Court Order and how they should comply with it. If this is a matter of concern to you, then please contact us for advice.

Our aim and the aim of the Court Service is to ensure business as usual, but safely. So, our work on your behalf will continue and we will continue to accept new instructions. If you have been notified of a Court hearing, we will prepare for that hearing in the usual way and the hearing will proceed, but by telephone.

As ever, we will be pleased to answer any query, question or enquiry you might have.

Rest assured that we are here for you. Stay safe and keep well.

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