Preparing for a remote hearing in the Family Court
Since the pandemic, remote court hearings have become increasingly common for the legal profession. But if this is your first court hearing, it may be helpful to know what to expect and how to prepare.
Tayyaba Ahmad has collected some useful tips from solicitors in the Family Law team that could be useful if you have to participate in a remote court hearing.
What technology do I need for a remote hearing?
A remote hearing is usually conducted online by video conference, using a system called CVP which stands for Cloud Video Platform. A link will be sent to your email address from the Court giving you access to join the hearing.
You will need a working laptop/computer with sound and video which you can use to attend the hearing.
It is a good idea to test everything the day before to ensure you do not have any problems.
What if I do not have a suitable device or reliable wifi?
You could join by telephone. The court will call you at the time of the hearing and you will be connected by audio. Make sure your phone is not on silent.
Do I have to have a camera on, or can I just use audio?
It is usual practice to have your camera turned on, but if you do not feel comfortable then you can ask to have your camera turned off.
What if I have a problem with the technology on the day?
Judges are very aware of the difficulties that many people have with making connections and are generally very patient, so there is no need to panic if you do have a problem.
What if English is not my first language, or I am hearing impaired, and need help?
If you have a solicitor, they can arrange for an interpreter to attend the hearing who will be able to translate for you. If you do not have a solicitor then you can ask the court to make this arrangement.
Can I attend the hearing from anywhere?
You must be sure to be in a private and confidential space where you could hear and be heard but no one else can be present or can hear.
That means that if you need to have somebody with you to support you, this needs to be discussed with your lawyer before the hearing and your lawyer can raise it with the judge to get permission.
Will my solicitor be participating?
If you have a lawyer they will represent you at the hearing, you can remain in contact with them by either email or text message so you can communicate with them during the hearing.
How should I prepare?
Before the hearing you should read over very carefully your own statement or position statement as well as the most recent documents that have come in.
If you have a lawyer then make sure you have a discussion with them before the hearing outlining your position so that they are clear.
Have a pen and paper with you and make notes of anything you want to say or want your lawyer to say for you.
How do I know when it is my turn to speak?
If you have a lawyer, they will speak for you.
If you are a litigant in person, your turn to speak will depend on if you are the applicant or the respondent. The applicant speaks first and then the respondent.
The Judge will give you a chance to speak or you can raise your hand if you think it is urgent.
How do I address the judge?
This depends on what type of Judge you are before:
- District Judges are addressed as Sir or Madam.
- Circuit Judges are addressed as Your Honour.
- High Court Judges are addressed as My Lord or My Lady.
What if I need a break or have a problem, how can I make this known?
You can communicate this to your lawyer or the court staff.
Will the hearing be recorded?
Will I get a copy of the recording?
No, unless an order is made for a transcript to be provided.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.