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01 June 2020

For The Urgent Attention Of All Court Practitioners - 1st June 2020

UPDATES FROM THE OFFICE OF THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE


Further to Covid E-nformer No.27 issued on Friday 29 May 2020 where we published details of further listings of family law cases in (a) the Lisburn and Newtownards Family Proceedings Court Pilot and (ii) in the Family Care Centres at Belfast, Craigavon and Derry, we have received notification of further updates to the JudiciaryNI website – see https://judiciaryni.uk/coronavirus-covid-19. These cover:-

1. Business Recovery Plans

An updated PowerPoint summary has been published advising what work is currently being undertaken by:

(i)                  The High Court

(ii)                The Crown Court – Criminal Cases and Extradition

(iii)               The Magistrates’ Court (Adult Criminal) Cases

(iv)               County Court cases

(v)                Family Cases – all tiers

(vi)               Masters’ Reviews in the High Court

2. Remote Hearings

A.  An Interim Practice Direction 01/2020 applying to the Court of Judicature in Northern Ireland in relation to Remote Hearings has been published. It is downloadable from https://judiciaryni.uk/judicial-decisions/practice-direction-0120-remote-hearings. It comprises sections on:-

(i)                  Overarching Principles

(ii)                Procedures

(iii)               Technical and Other Matters to include a Protocol at Appendix 1 and a standard Notice of Hearing at Appendix 2

(iv)               Commencement and Review

B.  Updated Technical Guidance as attached has been issued by the NICTS setting out details of the additional Sightlinks now available. If members are experiencing any problems with regard to the operation of Sightlink they are requested to contact Pamela Reid at pamela.reid@courtsni.gov.uk.

3.  Undefended Divorces

The Pilot Scheme for the hearing of undefended divorce cases is being rolled out to the High Court and to all County Courts from mid-June 2020 - https://judiciaryni.uk/sites/judiciary/files/media-files/Covid-19%20-%20Undefended%20Divorces%20%E2%80%93%20All%20Courts%20-%2029%20May%2020.pdf

4.  Family Care Centre Cases listed for hearing at Dungannon on 17th June 2020

Guidance issued by the Office of the Lord Chief Justice on 12th and 22nd May set out plans to commence administrative reviews of Family Care Court (FCC) and Family Proceedings Court (FPC) cases.

The Family Care centre Judge is undertaking administrative reviews of the cases in the attached list for hearing at Dungannon on 17th June 2020. 

Representatives should identify their cases from the attached list, and collaboratively complete and lodge Form FCI1 by email to the relevant court office by 5th June 2020. The subject line of your email should state ‘FCC Review’.

Where no form is received from either party the case will be adjourned to a fixed date.  Where the judge determines a review hearing is required the parties will be notified of the arrangements. Any urgent or agreed applications will continue to be dealt with as per the Lord Chief Justice’s earlier guidance.

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

5. Crown Court cases

The OLCJ advise that it will be issuing lists for Crown Court cases on Friday coming 5 June 2020.  Judges are currently undertaking administrative reviews of cases and legal representatives will be asked to complete form CCI1 identifying those requiring action or if the case is ready to proceed with arraignment, sentence etc. 



Documents

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