Peer to Peer Debate

Kingsley Napley hosts close-to-call debate about whether family justice can be served through remote hearings

1 October 2020

Last night, Kingsley Napley’s Family and Divorce team hosted a webinar debate titled “This House believes remote hearings are not remotely fair”, chaired by The Honourable Mrs Justice Roberts.

Over a hundred family lawyers and barristers participated via Zoom and, following arguments from Lucy Stone QC, James Roberts QC, Brent Molyneux QC and Nicholas Yates QC, the motion was carried following an online audience poll with 56% in favour and 44% against.

The debate was held in light of The President of the Family Division having asked the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory to undertake a further consultation on remote hearings in the family courts. The first consultation was concluded at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the height of lockdown with the report being published on 6 May. The latest consultation is considering the extent to which remote hearings are working, as strict lockdown measures are eased.

Charlotte Bradley, head of the Family & Divorce team at Kingsley Napley, comments:

“We are proud to have hosted this lively and topical debate for practitioners of Family law. The arguments for and against the motion were passionately put and the discussion following the debate was insightful."

The close result of the vote (56% in favour) highlights the differing views on whether justice can be delivered remotely and in my view, it is clearly a discussion that needs to continue. Whilst remote hearings are workable and can be beneficial for some types of cases, they are not right for all."

We look forward to seeing the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory’s further report on this critical subject expected in mid-October.”

Further information

Should you have any questions relating to remote family law hearings or any other issues, please contact a member of our Family and Divorce team.

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