Family courts and COVID-19

The coronavirus crisis and social distancing pose immediate challenges to the family courts’ ways of working. 

Rapid consultation: the use of remote hearings in the family justice system

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the introduction of social distancing measures, the family courts in England and Wales have rapidly adapted to using telephone and video hearings. In light of this significant change, the President of the Family Division asked the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory to undertake a rapid consultation on the use of remote hearings in the family court.

The consultation ran for a two-week period from 14 to 28 April 2020 and well over 1,000 people responded. Our subsequent report provides an overview of the consultation responses.

Remote hearings in court systems around the world.

We have drawn together information on the use of remote hearings in court systems around the world (where information on the use of such systems is publicly available), to create the snapshot below.

How many remote hearings are taking place in the UK?

The use of audio and video technology in hearings has increased during the coronavirus outbreak.These figures, reported by individual courts and tribunals (not just family courts), provide an indicative estimate of the number of hearings that have taken place using audio and video since 19 March 2020.

Keep in touch

Sign up to e-mail updates from the Nuffield FJO