Coronavirus updates

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) is creating a challenging environment for you, your firm, and the clients you support. That’s why we created this page to bring together all the advice and guidance related to COVID-19 in one easy-to-access space.

We will keep this updated as more advice/guidance is issued by bodies such as HMCTS, the Legal Aid Agency, and others. If you are involved in another organisation that has issued its own guidance and want this to appear here, please get in touch.

Resolution has created this page for members but, given the current circumstances, we are making it publicly available to all.


Resolution news

Resolution’s COVID-19 & The Family Court survey is open and allows us to co-ordinate constructive feedback to the government about how measures are working on the ground. Please complete and share the survey with colleagues.

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, Resolution’s National Conference, due to take place in Brighton at the end of March, has been cancelled. We’ll be contacting delegates shortly about refunds.

Resolution is keen to hear from members about how we can support you and your firm during this uncertain time. Let us have your suggestions, whatever they may be, by completing this online form.

Margaret Heathcote and Colin Jones, National Chair and Chief Executive respectively, have written to members to update them on the steps Resolution is taking to continue to support practitioners and firms during this challenging time.

Members are doing their upmost to continue to serve the needs of clients. Angela Lake-Carroll has prepared this guidance note to provide some useful hints and tips about the use of remote technologies.

Ministry of Justice

Resolution was included in a conference call to the whole civil and family sector on 20 March. In that call, MOJ, LAA and HMCTS gave an overview of their current plans and priorities in responding to the unprecedented challenges facing the justice system

The MoJ has provided clarification of those legal practitioners who are confirmed as key workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Some practitioners will intermittently fall into this category for a limited time.

Courts will stay open but working practices will need to change, the Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland has said. In a statement released Wednesday (18 March) the minister said: “It is essential that our independent courts are able to administer justice.”

Courts and Tribunals

You can sign up for daily Coronavirus email alerts from HM Courts and Tribunals Service here. Each day, HMCTS publishes a summary of it’s operational position at approx 9am. This can be viewed here.

The Judicial Office has published a number of important Coronavirus updates by jurisdiction. The page will be updated when there are significant developments.

Judicial Office guidance for Family and County Court Judges during Covid-19 measures can be downloaded here.

The Lord Chancellor has authorised that court staff may waive the application fee to adjourn a civil or family hearing because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Courts and Tribunal Judiciary has published a revised version of  the Remote Access Family Court document which identifies the current problems which arise from the urgent need to move to a default position of remote hearings. It also identifies potential solutions to those problems and sets out operational protocols to govern the position.

National Guidance for the Family Court during the COVID-19 epidemic should take immediate effect within all levels of the Family Court and in the High Court Family Devision. The guidance from the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, can be viewed here and downloaded as a PDF here.

HMCTS has issued advice and guidance for all court and tribunal users. This rolling guidance will be updated as and when new advice is available so members may want to bookmark it for reference.

Financial Remedies Court (FRC) judges have been issued with new guidance to follow during the COVID-19 outbreak. Mr Justice Mostyn, the national lead judge of the FRC, proposed the measures in light of the guidance given by the Lord Chief Justice.

The Family Law Bar Association has issued a statement advising the immediate cession of in person hearings and for the interim use of virtual and online systems to deal with family cases. Their full statement can be found here.

Children cases

The Department for Education has issued new guidance to service providers on vulnerable children and young people (public law children).

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory has a new initiative to help professionals to maintain safe contact arrangements for children and families during the crisis, and also provides useful resources for those working in private or public children law.

Practice guidance for international child abduction cases has temporarily been amended as a result of COVID-19.

Cafcass has put together the following guidance to support children and families as the situation surrounding COVID-19 develops. This information will be regularly updated.

Some parents whose children are the subject of Child Arrangements Orders made by the Family Court have been understandably concerned about their ability to meet the requirements of these court orders safely amid the COVID-19 outbreak. This short statement, from the President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane, is intended to offer advice.

Cafcass has released advice to support children and families throughout the COVID-19 situation which can be downloaded here.

Living and contact arrangements for the children of separated parents are having to adapt to the current situation. The latest government advice is that where parents live apart, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ home. Denise Findlay, a senior associate at Birketts, outlines some practical tips for separated parents to ensure that necessary changes are made.

Money cases

All financial remedy cases are to be heard remotely unless personal attendance is absolutely unavoidable in the interests of fairness and justice. The Financial Remedies Court has released guidance for all hearings listed at the Central Family Court between 6 April and 1 May 2020.

LAPG has launched a new COVID-19 support service for legal aid providers. The service is free and open to all legal aid providers for business continuity and LAA contract compliance issues arising directly from the COVID-19 crisis.

Wider discussions are taking place across the Ministry of Justice and Government about the needs of legal aid providers facing cash flow problems but the LAA has asked us to remind you about existing ways firms can seek financial assistance from the Agency under the existing regulations.  Claims can be submitted immediately for processing.

The LAA has released an FAQ in response to the queries they have received on the Family Advocacy Scheme (FAS) from bodies including Resolution. It will be updated on a regular basis.

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) will be publishing advice and guidance for legal aid providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on this page. It will be updated as the situation develops.

The LAA has issued guidance for legal aid providers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Resolution’s Legal Aid Committee has requested the LAA take a number of measures throughout the crisis including non-means testing for emergency DV applications and suspending the permanent presence requirement for all offices.

News from others

The Solicitors Regulation Authority have published their guidance and approach to compliance during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Family Mediation Standards Board (FMSB) have agreed a number of temporary regulatory amendments in light of the need to minimise proximity with others. These can be read here in full.

Support

The new Business Support campaign for Covid-19 has launched. This is to ensure businesses are aware of the support available to them and how to access it. The new Coronavirus website page can be found here.

Our friends at LawCare are available to help with emotional support and wellbeing advice. They are available via webchat or by phone on 0800 279 6888, and there are lots of resources on their website.

SBA – The Solicitors’s Charity is an organisation that offers financial aid for solicitors in difficult situations. You can find more information on their website.

Public safety information

Find out how to protect yourself or check if you need medical help on the NHS website.

The Government has published advice for all employees about how to stop the spread and what to do if you’ve been in contact with an individual suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.