Covid-19 and the Family Courts: Key Practitioner Findings in Children Cases

Richardson, Kayliegh, Speed, Ana, Thomson, Callum and Coapes, Laura (2021) Covid-19 and the Family Courts: Key Practitioner Findings in Children Cases. Journal of Social Welfare & Family Law, 43 (4). pp. 414-438. ISSN 0964-9069


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In March 2020, stringent social distancing measures were introduced across England and Wales to reduce the spread of Covid-19. These measures have presented significant challenges for the family justice system. This article sets out the findings of interviews conducted with professionals in the North East of England who have represented or otherwise supported litigants in private and public children proceedings since social distancing measures were introduced. The findings reveal that whilst practitioners are broadly positive about their experiences of shorter non-contested hearings, they nonetheless have concerns about the effectiveness of remote/hybrid hearings in ensuring a fair and just process in lengthy and complex cases. In particular, the findings indicate that the move to remote hearings has exacerbated pre-existing barriers to justice for unrepresented and vulnerable litigants. The aims of this article are not to ‘name and shame’ any particular court but to highlight evidence of good practice in the North East of England and provide scope for improving practitioners’ and litigants’ experiences within current restrictions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: family court, Covid-19, remote hearings, access to justice, public law, private law, children
Subjects: M100 Law by area
M200 Law by Topic
M900 Other in Law
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 04 May 2021 10:28
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2022 08:00

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