The Family Courts: Post Covid
In 2019 the world changed. Lockdowns, masks, quarantine and social distancing became societal norms, along with rapid testing and changes to how we obtained our weekly food shopping. However, there was also one change that was slightly outside of public view, our Courts.
Historically, Court appearances were in person, with audio visual links only utilised in times of absolute necessity. This suddenly changed with the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic. The communities safety was paramount in the Court decision to implement social distancing inside the Court and to have Court events (as much as possible) be dealt with online via audio visual conference.
Suddenly, the Courts were forced to adopt a different approach to settling orders and managing cases, and the need to utilise audio visual technology and to streamline procedures was imminent.
Majority of the community’s consensus was that the Courts handled this transition rather well. Clients reported being less nervous about attending hearings and felt at ease with the new temporary process the Court had implimented. Some lawyers were impressed with the streamlining of procedures, with many enjoying not having to travel into the Courts.
Additionally, the dispute resolution process and procedures saw a change. These services went from mainly face to face conferences to online or audio visual links with parties utilising services such as Zoom or court facilitated links.
Could the temporary changes the Courts went through during the Covid-19 epidemic be the change we all were looking for? Sadly, I don’t think we will never know. With the relaxing of covid distancing and isolation rules, the Courts have partially resumed in person hearings and matter management is back to normal (as much as possible).
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