Along with the rest of society the Family Courts in Scotland have had to adjust significantly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pre-March 2020 Family law practitioners were used to attending Court in person to represent clients on what was an almost daily basis. That situation changed drastically with the first national lock down when the Courts effectively closed their doors to the public.
Time has marched on, and the Scottish Court Service and solicitors have learned to adapt in ways we did not think possible. Fairly quickly after the lockdown Courts started hearing cases by way of telephone call. Things then moved on and video calls started to take place. We are, however, now two years down the line and most restrictions in society have now been lifted. Where, however, are we now with Family Court hearings?
The situation with Sheriff Courts in Scotland is that most Family Court hearings are still taking place remotely. Procedural hearings and Child Welfare Hearings continue to take place, in most Sheriff Courts across Scotland, by way of video calls using the Court Webex system. This allows parties and solicitors to join the hearing from wherever they may be. The same rules of Court apply, and parties are expected to behave in exactly the same manner as if they were physically in Court.
The current system has many advantages, but also has disadvantages. It may be much more convenient and cost effective for hearings to take place remotely in that it saves the time and expense of travelling to Court. There are, however, certain access to justice issues when parties struggle to join a video call for whatever reason.
Whatever the arguments for or against remote hearings, it does appear they are here to stay for some time to come.
The family team at Drummond Miller regularly appear at Court hearings across Scotland.
Getting good advice is essential. The Drummond Miller family law team is extremely experienced in dealing with all aspects of family law including Divorce, separation and child-related matters. If you would like any further information or advice, please get in touch with our experienced solicitors in Edinburgh, Dalkeith, Musselburgh or Bathgate.