Remote Hearings in the Family of Courts of England and Wales: what the research shows – Transparency Project

‘Hearings in the family courts of England and Wales are almost unrecognisable today to the hearings that took place prior to the outbreak of Covid-19. On 23 March 2020, it was announced that a nationwide lockdown was to begin the following day and last indefinitely. Between 23 March and 6 April, video hearings increased by 340% across courts and tribunals in England and Wales. Audio hearings increased by over 500%. Today, remote and hybrid (where some people attend in person and some via a telephone or video link) hearings have become commonplace. Even final hearings are now being conducted remotely. The transition to remote and hybrid hearings has helped to mitigate the delay before cases are heard. It helping to minimise an increasing backlog of cases. Telephone and video hearings have their benefits for parents, children and professionals alike, which might even see remote hearings continue in use in some cases beyond the pandemic. However, remote hearings come at a cost, as two consultations by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (NFJO) demonstrate.’

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Transparency Project, 13th November 2020