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12 August 2020

Family and Domestic Proceedings Courts Recovery Guidance

Guidance on the extension of FPC and DPC business has issued from the OLCJ with effect from 10th August 2020.  This extension will see more ‘normal’ business being re-established, although generally does not include physical attendance at court – unless specifically required to do so.  The majority of business will be conducted remotely.

This attached Guidance is available on the Judiciary.NI web site at www.judiciaryni.uk – see Matrimonial & Family – All Tiers section.

Members are reminded to regularly check the Judiciary.NI web page for updates on guidance and the latest version of forms for submission to court offices.

 

FROM THE OLCJ:

The Judiciary NI website has been updated to include the attached guidance (copy guidance attached to this email) for recommencement of Family Proceedings and Domestic Courts from 10 August 2020.  Please note -

·         Cases will continue to be heard remotely unless the judge determines it is necessary to hold a hearing with all or some of the parties present in court;

·         Where a hearing is to take place, practitioners should submit Form HR1 (https://judiciaryni.uk/sites/judiciary/files/media-files/Form%20HR1%20-%20Hearing%20Request%20-%20310720%20-%20FINAL.doc) setting out who will be attending physically and remotely to allow court staff to ensure that social distancing in the court and the court building can be maintained.  A time slot will be allocated for the hearing;

·         Callovers, reviews and directions hearings on Sightlink will generally be structured to reduce the waiting time for practitioners, social workers, GALS and CCOs;

·         Sightlink will be locked when dealing with individual cases;

·         Unless listed for a specific hearing slot, practitioners should not have their clients with them on Sightlink and if they need to take instructions this should either be done with the client in another room away from the Sightlink or by phone. This will enable the judge to deal exclusively with members of the profession when conducting callovers, reviews and directions hearings. This is to ensure parties in one case do not hear information relating to another case.  As members of the professions and officers of the court there is a responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of family proceedings and the policing of this matter does fall to the legal representatives. 

·         Where a solicitor/counsel considers their case can only be discussed with the client present they should advise the judge who may then pass a case so that it can be dealt with separately with the Sightlink closed.

 



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