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15 June 2020

For The Urgent Attention Of All Court Litigators

New Updates From The Office Of The Lord Chief Justice

The Office of the Lord Chief Justice (OLCJ) has forwarded details of the following:

1.        An updated summary of Business Recovery Plans

2.        (a) Revised Guidance for the Family Care Centre (FCC) Recovery Plan

(b) Revised Guidance for Family Proceedings (All Court Tiers)

(c)  Updated lists for the administrative review of the Family Care Centres at Belfast and Craigavon and the Family Proceedings Courts at Ards and at Lisburn 

3.        Updated Guidance for Crown Courts and Criminal Cases

Colleagues are advised to REGULARLY monitor the Coronavirus section of the website of Judiciary NI - https://judiciaryni.uk/coronavirus-covid-19 and the Society's e-Newsletter –   E-nformer.


1.        An overall summary of Business Recovery Plans as updated to 12th June 2020 has been published.

This replaces the previous version. The summary provides a snapshot in relation to business recovery in all court tiers, setting out work that

(i)       is continuing to be done

(ii)     the courts aim to do

(iii)   the courts cannot do yet

The summary is downloadable by clicking here



2.        (a) Revised Guidance for the Family Care Centre (FCC) Recovery Plan.

Revised Guidance to the Family Care Centre (FCC) Recovery Plan which was originally issued on 22nd May 2020 has been updated on 11th June 2020. This is downloadable by clicking here

(b)  Revised Guidance for Family Proceedings (All Court Tiers) was issued on 12th June 2020.

This revokes and replaces the guidance note for family proceedings issued on 12th May 2020. This is downloadable by clicking here

(c)  Cases listed in the Family Care Centres at Belfast & Craigavon and in the Family Proceedings Courts in Ards and in Lisburn.

Members should check these lists (see below) as a matter of urgency to see if they or a colleague in their office has a case which appears thereon and if so they should make contact with a representative of the other parties involved in the litigation or case and action as required.

Given the difficulties presented by the current pandemic, it may be that one or more of the legal representatives is currently unavailable due to furlough or otherwise in which case you may wish to contact one of the principals in that office.

Family Care Centres – Belfast and Craigavon

Guidance issued by the Office of the Lord Chief Justice, updated 11th June, set out plans for administrative reviews of Family Care Centre (FCC) cases.  Separate, more detailed guidance, should be consulted for Family Proceedings (all tiers) and for Family Care Centre (FCC) Recovery - these are reviewed and updated regularly.

The family judge for each Family Care Centre has identified the cases which are to be reviewed,  AND REQUIRE YOU TO LODGE THE REQUISITE FORM FOR EACH CASE by the return date given below.  Forms must also be completed setting out the reasons where the parties seek an adjournment.

Representatives should identify their cases from the lists below, and collaboratively complete and lodge Form FCI1 for each by email to the relevant court office by 19th June 2020.   It is essential that the forms are completed as comprehensively as possible to narrow the issues to be determined by the judge. It would assist the office staff and the judges if electronic copies of any documents relied upon or referred to in the FCI1 form were attached to it on submission. Email addresses for court offices can be found in Annex A.  The subject line of your email should state ‘FCC Review’.

Family Proceedings Courts – Ards and Lisburn

Guidance issued by the Office of the Lord Chief Justice on 12th and 22nd May set out plans for administrative reviews of Family Proceedings Courts (FPC).   Separate, more detailed guidance, should be consulted for Family Proceedings (all tiers) and for Family Proceedings Centre (FPC) Pilot : Ards & Lisburn  - these are reviewed and updated regularly.

Representatives should identify their cases from the attached lists, and collaboratively complete and lodge Form FCI1 by email to the relevant court office by 19th June 2020.   It is essential that the forms are completed as comprehensively as possible to narrow the issues to be determined by the judge. Where no form is received from either party the case will normally be adjourned to a fixed date. Email addresses for court offices can be found in Annex A The subject line of your email should state ‘FPC Review’.

During week commencing 29th June 2020, the judges involved with each of the above courts will review the forms received, together with any relevant documents lodged, and determine whether each matter can be dealt with administratively or will require a hearing.  Where the judge determines a review hearing is required the parties will be notified of the arrangements. Orders / Directions will be available via ICOS as normal.

Judges will continue to hear urgent matters, those where the parties have agreed a way forward, or those where the legal representative or a party to the proceedings has requested a review / hearing and the judge considers it appropriate, where the representatives have lodged forms clearly setting out the circumstances, as per the Lord Chief Justice’s earlier guidance.

Any queries regarding the administrative reviews should be directed to the relevant court office.


3.        Guidance for Crown Courts and Criminal Cases – revised 12th June 2020 to include reference to Extradition

Guidance issued by the Office of the Office of the Lord Chief on 5th June and revised on 12th June now includes the following paragraph in relation to Extradition:

“The County Court is endeavouring to deal with extradition matters as expeditiously as possible, and judges will list cases for hearing if they determine, after receiving any submissions from the parties, that a case is suitable for hearing by remote link.”

This can be found on page 2 of the updated Guidance which can be viewed by clicking here. 



Documents

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