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Keeping you updated with news about HMCTS and its work

Issue 24  |  1 June 2020

 
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Safe working across our courts

Video demonstrating some of the ways in which we?re applying updated safety guidance in our courts and tribunals to enable hearings to proceed in additional HMCTS buildings.


generalcrimecivilfamilytribunals

News Headlines

 

Flexible operating hours pilots conclude

After testing the impact of using court and tribunal hearing rooms for civil and family hearings, an independent evaluation will review how it can improve access to justice.

 

Responding to a global pandemic within the family courts

Inside HMCTS blog about how family courts have found ways to navigate the challenges of coronavirus and what that looks like in the family jurisdiction.

 

Personal injury and money claims webinar recording

Recording of live reform webinar, hosted on 28 May by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and HMCTS, about the online issue of county court claims.

 

Working with the Home Office on Stalking Protection Orders

In a world altered by the coronavirus, this blog reflects on our collaborative role in ensuring stalking victims are visible and supported throughout the crisis.

 

Get Legally Speaking podcast with Sidonie Kingsmill

Interview with HMCTS Customer Director about how HMCTS continues to deliver justice to court users during the coronavirus pandemic.

Further News

 

HMCTS arrangements to keep our buildings safe and clean

 
 

Roll out plans for Cloud Video Platform for video-enabled criminal hearings

 

HMCTS management information for understanding workload volumes and timelines

 

HMPPS Insights hosting virtual workshops and seminars in June


 

A courts and tribunals planning and preparation web page is updated when new advice is available and operational updates issued weekly during the pandemic.

HMCTS weekly operational update during coronavirus outbreak

HMCTS weekly operational update: week commencing 1 June 2020

From Friday 24 April 2020 we are issuing weekly updates on our operational position and we'll email our subscribers each Sunday evening with a reminder. On Monday mornings we'll also publish a link to the weekly update on Twitter.

You can see our previously issued daily operational updates.

Follow us on @HMCTSgovuk to also check for daily or urgent updates.

We'll keep this under review.

Next week's update will be issued on Friday 5 June 2020.

Crime

Family

Civil

Tribunals

Royal Courts of Justice

Judicial announcements

Please visit our GOV.UK page for all operational updates


 

HMCTS UPDATE - New publications: Cloud Video Platform press notice, latest stats and blog post

"We have today issued a press notice outlining our plans for using new and secure video technology to help keep the justice system moving during the coronavirus pandemic. (We had hoped to give you advance notice of its publication but it wasn't possible.)

We have also published the latest statistics on audio and video technology use during the coronavirus outbreak, which show that show that 90% of all cases since 14 April have been held remotely to ensure the vulnerable are protected.

Susan Acland-Hood, HMCTS Chief Executive has also issued a blog, Using remote hearings to maintain justice during the coronavirus pandemic, reflecting on our plans and thanking legal professionals for their collective effort in working with the technology.

We'd be really grateful if you could circulate the links among your teams, members and audiences, as appropriate.

Please also encourage them to sign up for latest information about the operational running of courts and tribunals through the following channels:

Thank you for your continued support,"

Amy Allen

Communications Manager, External Stakeholder Communications

Communications Team | HMCTS | 032 | Manchester Crown Court | M3 3FL    Mobile: +44 (0)7547 969712

EXTENDING THE LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE SERVICE - CPR PD 51S

Dear Court user,

We have been overwhelmed with requests to join our service after the release of the initial message earlier in the week. This is great, and we are currently working hard to register all users within 24 hours of receiving your request, however given the volume of interest this may take us slightly longer than the initial 24 hours we quoted. We don?t except it to be much more than that but we wanted to make you aware to help manage expectations.

HMCTS Civil Reform Project

Rob Hack, Head of External Stakeholder Communications

Communications Team | HMCTS | 6.23 | 102 Petty France | London | SW1H 9AJ    Phone: 07870 16309

PILOT OPPORTUNITY: DIGITAL PART 7 PERSONAL INJURY PROCEEDINGS

21 April 2020

Dear court user,

We're expanding our pilot digital service that allows you to issue Part 7 personal injury proceedings online.

This service operates under existing Practice Direction PD51S.  It is an alternative to posting a completed paper N1 claim form to CCMCC.  It allows you to:

  • Issue Part 7 proceedings in the County Court for a specified or unspecified sum of money, such as a personal injury claim;
  • Instantly calculate and pay the issue fee using fee account;
  • Download the sealed claim form to serve on the defendant yourself.

The pilot was already underway, but we?re making it available to more people as part of our response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

To sign up, send an e-mail to onlinecivilmoneyclaims@justice.gov.uk and include the e-mail addresses of up to ten members of your firm who would like access. We're still testing the service, so need to manage the total number of users and anticipate that this will allow all firms to have some access.

We aim to reply within 24 hours with more information.

Simon Vowles

Civil Jurisdictional Service Owner

PRACTICE GUIDANCE FROM MR JUSTICE MOSTYN AND HIS HONOUR JUDGE HESS - 15 APRIL 2020

FINANCIAL REMEDIES COURTS

"We have been asked to clarify the implications for financial remedy cases of the Lord Chief Justice's letter to Circuit and District judges sitting in civil and family dated 9 April 2020 as supplemented by the President's email of 14 April 2020.
This letter is written with the approval of the President.

The points made on page 3 of the letter at (e) - (h) for 'Family Cases' do not apply to financial remedy cases. They only apply to private and public law children cases.

The general points on that page at (a) - (d) have to be applied in context to financial remedy cases. Financial remedy cases below High Court judge level are generally relatively short and straightforward. There will be no question of having to prove liability, as in a civil action. The majority will be needs cases which will not depend on a credibility assessment. Even in cases that do require a credibility assessment, for example where non-disclosure is alleged, the case is likely to be relatively short and the relevant issues are likely to be able to be exposed and assessed by remote
testimony.

Generally, the court should start from the position that a remote hearing is likely to be consistent with the interests of justice. This will be especially so if the hearing will not involve live testimony; however even in the latter case the court can safely assume in many cases that a remote hearing will be consistent with the interests of justice.

The court should be alive to the possibility that opposition to a remote hearing is motivated by a desire to delay the resolution of the case.

We reiterate the President's words in his email of 14 April 2020: ?the letter was intended to do little more that remind judges that the decision about listing is theirs, without directing them."

15 April 2020

MESSAGE FOR CIRCUIT AND DISTRICT JUDGES SITTING IN CIVIL AND FAMILY
from the Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls and President of the Family Division

READ MESSAGE

For information: Judicial Office note on listing in Magistrates' Courts  17.4.20

Message from Robert Hack, Head of External Stakeholder Communications, HMCTS

"I am getting in touch to draw your attention to a guidance note published by the Judicial Office on their website, which you may already be aware of.  It relates to information on listing cases in Magistrates' Courts.

Please circulate to your members as appropriate.

https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Note-on-Listing-Magistrates-SPJ-DSPJ-14.04.20-FINAL.pdf

FOR INFORMATION: Criminal Appeal Office

The Criminal Appeal Office is temporarily unable to receive emails at its usual email addresses. The office is also unable to access its case management system and cannot therefore provide progress reports on live appeal cases.

It is expected that services will not be restored until Monday 20 April 2020.

As a temporary measure, a new email address has been put in place, but this mailbox should only be used to:

  • Lodge documents or enquire about cases listed in the week commencing 20 April 2020
  • Lodge urgent appeal applications e.g. due to the closeness of the earliest date of release from custody

The email address will be: criminalappealoffice@justice.gov.uk

Exceptionally, if you need to speak to a member of staff, please call 020 7947 6011. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

FLBA - VIDEO CONFERENCING/REMOTE HEARINGS


INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE OF VIDEO CONFERENCING PLATFORMS

FAMILY JUSTICE BOARD COVID SUBCOMMITTEE MINUTES 31/3/20


MINUTES 31/3/20

 

FRC HEARINGS LISTED AT THE CENTRAL FAMILY COURT BETWEEN 6TH APRIL - 1ST MAY 2020


IMPORTANT NOTICE  

HMCTS REMINDER - THE WORK OF COURTS AND TRIBUNALS WILL BE CONSOLIDATED INTO FEWER BUILDINGS FROM MONDAY 30 MARCH

Following Friday's announcement, this is a reminder that a network of priority courts will remain open during the coronavirus pandemic to make sure the justice system continues to operate effectively.  The work of courts and tribunals will be consolidated into fewer buildings.

Check which buildings are:

- Open to all court users for essential face-to-face hearings.
- Staffed by key workers but not open to the public.
- Suspended and temporarily closed to all court users.

Check which buildings are open before you travel, using this link: Court and Tribunals tracker page and lists

NOTES OF MEETING OF LOCAL FAMILY JUSTICE BOARD 26.3.20

The MOJ want to trial one or two hearings today or tomorrow using the Cloud Video Platform.  They are also looking for a civil case.  Security is a concern re recording and or screenshots being taken.

Where experts are adjusting their usual procedure due to the crisis eg. a skype calls , not observing contact if the main issue in the case is for example DV not basic care we should be discussing these between ourselves then letting the Judge know if the course is agreed or there is any dispute. Any dispute might be dealt with by way of a hearing by email.

Financial cases are still proceeding unless both parties are litigants in person at present. It is acknowledged that there may be problems with bundles etc. Detailed summaries and chronologies would be appreciated.

The Courts are being flexible with LIP?s when it comes to them making injunction applications. The preference is that forms are prepared online, saved then submitted. Visits to Court buildings and hard copy documents are discouraged.

Judges should be calling out so there is no longer a need to offer powwow etc. for hearings. As mentioned yesterday Judges want one email with all contact details.

Due to capacity issues it may be better if conference calls are not on the hour when there is a peak on demand.

FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE FAMILY DIVISION - 25/3/20

Dear All,

I have agreed to a number of practical arrangements for the operation of CAFCASS in the current period. They are set out in the attached document. I hope that they will be workable and not impact unduly on business.  
From day to day, and from area to area, the situation regarding CAFCASS will vary. I would encourage each DFJ to continue to keep in regular contact with their local CAFCASS lead.

With best wishes and thanks to one and all
Andrew

COVID-19:  HMCTS daily status update - 25/3/20

HMCTS has just published its daily operational status update on courts and tribunals for Wednesday 25 March. The page provides a daily summary of the HMCTS operational position during the coronavirus pandemic.

 We will aim to update this page by 9am daily.

 We've also Tweeted the status update from our corporate Twitter account.

MESSAGE FROM PETER DONAGHEY RE COURT MEETING 25/3/20

Dear All,   I am providing an update following the Court meeting this morning. The main points from the meeting and the information which I have been given in appears to be as follows:

-  There was a discussion as to whether any solicitors offices are still open to the public.   

-  Any contacts in the police or voluntary sector would be useful so they are made aware of what is occurring and if anyone can help I would be grateful.

Contact-Private law

-  There appears to have been an upsurge in private law applications from the number received at Medway yesterday. Some of the applications would be on civil matters.

-  Clients and solicitors are asked to consider the President's guidance on enforcement of orders which I will circulate separately.

-  The link below from Cafcass may be of use in respect of general advice on private law matters during the crisis. The site also provides details other services are available from this site.

-  Court officers are under extreme pressure so can will all be conscious of this and consider the best means of communicating with the office.
https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parents-and-carers/covid-19-guidance-for-children-and-families/

-  For clients we are advising but not formally acting for, the C100 is available as follows:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-c100-application-under-the-children-act-1989-for-a-child-arrangements-prohibited-steps-specific-issue-section-8-order-or-to-vary-or-discharge

-  The Court want to discourage all correspondence other than by email.

Contact Public law

-  Kent are considering whether they can publish a policy on contact.

-  Applications can still be made however I think the general view will be that any direct contact may not be reasonable at the moment but it is a question in respect of the individual case/circumstances and ultimately what is reasonable?

-  Legal Aid revised guidance is below.
http://alc.org.uk/uploads/LAA-FAS-update-ng .pdf

Experts

-  Lextox have suspended collections.

-  DNA legal will continue to collect from home addresses.

-  I have not heard from other companies.

Court hearings

-  These are all taking place remotely as far as I am aware.

-  Judges/legal advisers require a complete list of participants who will be called usually compiled by the first represented party in priate law or by the LA where they are a party.

-  We may soon move to no staff in the court office so numbers on emails/websites may be important. I have provided the Court service with all panel member numbers.

-  There should not be any capacity issues now with BT in terms of needing an operator.

-  There are still issues with regard to obtaining phonelines for pre-hearing discussions and use of services such as powwow so consideration might be given to wifi services such as Whatsapp.

-  Lay clients are not going to be called so we need to make arrangements for lay clients to listen in provide instructions need to be dealt with on a case by case basis.

-  At present there are no plans for long hearings (over 5 days)to be conducted by video link. I am not personally aware of any final hearings locally being conducted in this way. This may be a WIP.

Peter Donaghey
Partner
Davis, Simmonds & Donaghey

MAGISTRATES' WORK TOMORROW (25 March) - urgent cases only 

To update that Magistrates' Courts will again only hear urgent cases involving overnight custody & people being brought to court from prison tomorrow (Wednesday 25 March). These cases remain as indicated in the yellow box below.

Parties involved in all other magistrates' hearings should not attend court tomorrow unless contacted directly. They?ll be notified of new hearing date.

We continue to review this daily.  We aim to make this list more widely available tomorrow for you to share with teams, members and audiences, and thank you for your patience.

THE REMOTE ACCESS FAMILY GUIDE - Essential Reading 24/3/20

Mr Justice MacDonald has produced the attached guide, which is essential reading for all family practitioners. 
CLICK HERE

Magistrates' work today (24 March) - urgent cases only 24/3/20

Magistrates' Courts will only be hearing urgent cases today (overnight custody and prisoner production).  Parties involved in all other hearings should not attend court unless they are contacted directly and will be notified of a new date for their hearing.  This is a fluid situation and may change quickly.  

Urgent cases are currently being considered to be the following priority types of cases in the magistrates' court.

CPS work

All custody cases, to include:

  • overnight custody cases from police stations (including arrest warrants and breach of bail cases)
  • Productions from prisons
  • Applications to extend custody time limits

Terrorism and extradition (Westminster MC)

  • Arrest warrants issued under the Extrdition Act
  • In hours and out of hours terrorism applications

Central/Local Government

  • Civil applications relating to public health legislation, particularly under the Coronavirus (Emergency) Act 2020 [when it becomes enforced]

Police

  • Warrants of further detention (police and HMRC)
  • Closure order applications
  • Urgent applications for DVPOs
  • Urgent applications for rights of entry/search warrants

E-BUNDLES IN FAMILY LAW CASES - NEW GUIDANCE 23.3.20

Mr James Turner QC has prepared an EBundling Guide to help advocates and others deal with the issue of preparing bundles, a task that we will all have to learn very quickly for the foreseeable future. Guidance is attached.   The DFJ has today confirmed that perfect bundles are not expected.  

NOTES OF MEETING OF LOCAL FAMILY JUSTICE BOARD 23.3.20

Withdrawn - awaiting update 23.3.20

NEW MESSAGE FROM LORD CHIEF JUSTICE 23.3.20

https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/review-of-court-arrangements-due-to-covid-19-message-from-the-lord-chief-justice/

KEYWORKERS IN JUSTICE

The following is understood to be the definition of keyworkers in justice as currently defined by the MoJ.

  • Advocates (including solicitor-advocates) required to appear before a court or tribunal (remotely or in person), including prosecutors;
  • Other legal practitioners required to support the administration of justice including duty solicitors (police station and court) and barristers, solicitors, legal executives, paralegals and others who work on imminent or ongoing court or tribunal hearings;
  • Solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills; and
  • Solicitors and barristers advising people living in institutions or deprived of their liberty.

 CRIMINAL LAW w/e 20/3/20

On Tuesday the Lord Chief Justice published an initial response to the outbreak and an announcement about jury trials.

On Wednesday the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland issued a statement on the running of the courts during the coronavirus pandemic.

CIVIL LITIGATION w/e 20/3/20

On Thursday, the Lord Chief Justice published a message to Judges in the Civil and Family Courts.

HMTCS GUIDANCE w/e 20/3/20

HMCTS priorities during the coronavirus pandemic 

HMCTS published new guidance on how it will use telephone and video technology to support the justice system during the outbreak

HTMS put in place a number of additional measures to address cleanliness and hygiene across the estate

This again is the link to the rolling guidance page on GOV.UK which continues to be updated regularly.  We are advised that this should remain the first port of call for KLS members seeking information about the pandemic.

IMPORTANT NEW GUIDANCE FOR FAMILY COURT USERS w/e 20/3/20

CLICK HERE for new guidance from the President of the Family Division The Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew McFarlane

NEW ROLLING HMCTS COVID-19 GUIDANCE PAGE

CLICK HERE

FINANCIAL REMEDIES COURT FOR KENT, SURREY AND SUSSEX

Memo from HHJ Stuart Farquhar of 6th September 2019

I have recently been appointed to be the Lead Judge for the Financial Remedies Court in Kent, Surrey and Sussex above which is now due to commence on 1st November 2019. I would just like to highlight what this will mean in practice and what changes will be seen.

There are not going to be wholesale changes in many aspects but it is hoped and intended that the alterations that are to occur will improve the system. Any feedback on any of the issues that are set out here are certainly welcome as well as any other suggestions as to how the system could be improved.

The following are some of the changes that will be occurring:

  • All District Judges and Deputy District Judges dealing with FRC work will be ?ticketed? to carry out Financial Remedy work and will sit on an increased amount of this work to ensure there is greater specialisation.
  • Applications will become digital. Once firms have registered (it is not currently available for Litigants in Person to register) they will be able to lodge Forms A and subsequent documents digitally. The Online Financial Remedy Consent Order Pilot is already up and running (leaflet attached) and I would urge all firms to consider joining the scheme. The contested applications will be using the same platform.
  • Allocation ? there will be a simple allocation questionnaire to complete to indicate the desired Court and whether the case is complex ? there will be a number of ?complexity? options to tick as well as ?other? to deal with particularly unusual issues.
  • The complex cases will be allocated to HHJ Robinson in Kent and myself in Surrey and Sussex. The two of us will also deal with all of the appeals in the three counties.
  • The FRC will deal with Schedule 1 Applications and those pursuant to Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 and related applications. TOLATA and Inheritance Act claims are likely to follow but it is considered that primary legislation is required for this to occur.
  • Private FDRs and other out of Court settlement mechanisms will be encouraged.

I have arranged for there to be meetings with the professions in all three Counties in order to discuss all of the issues as follows:

Surrey              18th September 2019 4.30pm at the Guildford Family Court

Kent                20th September 2019 3.30pm at Maidstone Family Court

Sussex             25th September 2019  4.30pm at Brighton Family Centre

If you wish to attend it would be helpful if you contact my clerk at Holly.Dunstall@Justice.gov.uk in advance so that we have some idea as to numbers. Please mark which meeting you are attending in the subject line.

In the meantime, if there are any particular points that any practitioner wishes to raise in terms of difficulties in the system or suggested improvements then please let me know through my clerk.

HHJ Stuart Farquhar

Brighton Family Centre


HMCTS ONLINE FINANCIAL REMEDY CONSENT ORDER PILOT

6th September 2019

[Text of HMCTS Leaflet]
The HMCTS Divorce Project has 
been working to create a new, simplified and digital method of applying for a financial remedy consent order online.  We have been working with stakeholders, including solicitors, litigants in person, third-party advice agencies and legal experts to create and test a service.
Feedback on the pilot so far has been extremely positive. Now we need more volunteers to test it further and provide
feedback on the system before we release it more widely.
If you are a cutting edge firm who want the chance to influence the development of the system - please contact the
Financial Remedy Reform team for further information.
If you are interested in joining the pilot, please contact: HMCTSFinancialRemedy@justice.gov.uk


HMCTS - COURT PROFESSIONAL ACCESS PILOT, MAIDSTONE COMBINED COURT

9th August 2018

HMCTS has today announced a small pilot scheme for streamlining access to courts for barristers and solicitors.

Maidstone Combined Court is one of those taking part in the pilot:  the others are: Brighton Magistrates? Court, Southwark Crown Court, Tameside Magistrates' Court and Wood Green Crown Court.

The scheme, which allows solicitors and barristers direct entrance to courts without the need to be searched, will be piloted for 12 weeks with registration beginning in August and fast-track entry from 5 September 2018.

Participating courts will require current photo ID from lawyers wishing to take part in the pilot (passport, driving licence or CLSA photo card), and will also require pre-registration from firms/chambers. Pre-registration will require the practitioner's agreement to certain terms and conditions including not bringing in prohibited items. Those conditions of entry are attached.

Participants in the pilot will be able either to go through a separate ?professional access? lane at the court, or, if there is no space for a separate entry lane, to nevertheless enter without a security check, save for random searches that may be carried out (if subject to a random check, they would not then have to re-join the back of the queue).

Outside peak times, the pilot would not operate and lawyers entering or re-entering the court would still have to queue with other court users and go through the security checks.

The next step is for the court managers to invite applications from local firms of solicitors and chambers to register for the scheme at one or more of the participating courts that they regularly use. There will be an application form and the conditions of entry to sign up to. It may take a few days for the letters to be despatched.

Evaluation will include measuring queuing times; recording any problems (eg disputes over ID or whether a practitioner has been registered with the court for the pilot, or any security breaches); and feedback from lawyers and from court/security staff.

The announcement from HMCTS can be accessed here - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-easier-court-entrance-for-legal-sector.

It may be a good idea to make an early decision who to register, to make sure you are eligible for this pilot.

BRIEFING NOTE FOR FAMILY LAW PRACTITIONERS IN KENT

Following a meeting with Supt. Emma Banks at Kent Police in Canterbury, please note the new system in place from September 2017 for domestic violence and child protection work in Kent. 

BRIEFING NOTE

MAP

FLEXIBLE OPERATING PILOTS

25th October 2017


HMCTS have published their prospectus on the latest flexible operating pilots, together with a number of questions. These plans will affect all courts and tribunals and members will find this of relevance.

VIEW PROSPECTUS

OUTCOME OF KENT MAGISTRATES COURTS LISTING CONSULTATION 2017

6th March 2017

Kent Law Society has received the attached report from Stephen McAllister, the Justices' Clerk for Kent, Sussex and Surrey.  It is of significance to all Criminal Law and Family Law practitioners in Kent.  The original consultation document and call for responses is set out below.  It summarises the consultation responses and identifies the decisions made consequent upon them.

RESPONSE TO KENT JBG LISTING CONSULTATION

KENT MAGISTRATES COURTS - LISTING CONSULTATION 2017

URGENT ATTENTION OF KENT LAWYERS NEEDED

Deadline 28 February 2017

the Society has been contacted by Mr Stephen McAllister, the Justices' Clerk for Surrey, Sussex and Kent, announcing a listing consultation paper issued by the Kent Judicial Business Group (JBG), and requesting your earliest responses to the proposals being made.  He has said that given the potential lead-in times to implement any agreed changes it wil be very helpful to receive views early in the consultation period in order to anticipate any planning required.

We are asked to respond to the consultation by email - marking the email JBG Listing Review.  The JBG will formally consider the responses at its meeting shortly after the closure date and will publish a response to consultation paper explaining any decisions made.

In order to support this consultation process, HMCTS will be active in seeking opportunities to discuss issues with key stakeholders in the next few days.  If you would like the opportunity to discuss any points with a member of the team please let them know as soon as possible. Mr McAllister's phone number is 07795 602301.

CONSULTATION DOCUMENT

 

TRIAL BACKLOG

22nd December 2016

'Please be advised, that in order to assist in reducing our trial backlog at Maidstone, Woolwich Crown Court have kindly agreed to deal with some of our S.51 sendings and committals for sentence from North & Central Kent Magistrates' Courts for all defendants with a DA home postcode. This will take effect from 16th January 2017 for an initial period of 3 months. These cases will bypass Maidstone and be sent directly to Woolwich.

All class 1 offences will remain at Maidstone.

If you have any issues or concerns regarding this proposed change, please do not hesitate to contact me.'

Zoe Critchley, Operations Manager, Kent Crown Courts

Mobile: 07776 180973 email - zoe.critchley@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk Web: www.gov.uk/hmcts

REFORMING THE SOFT TISSUE INJURY (WHIPLASH) CLAIMS PROCESS

Kent Law Society has responded to the Ministry of Justice consultation on this issue.  To read the full response,

CLICK HERE

 

TRIAL READINESS

7th November 2016

Preface: "each party must give active assistance to the Court in fulfilling its duty to further the overriding objective by actively managing the case" - CPR rule 3.3(2)(b).

As part of the Court's case progression procedures, the Maidstone CPO, Mrs Clare Denham, now prepares and distributes a Trial Readiness Action Monitor ('TRAM') in the form of a spreadsheet.  This is emailed out to all parties on the Monday three weeks ahead of the day fixed for trial or first day of warned list.  It is in column form and should be completed by the recipients in their respective columns and promptly returned to the Court so as to show trial readiness or otherwise.  If a certificate of readiness has already been lodged by a party then the TRAM will say as much and nothing need be inserted in the TRAM by the party who has so certified.

The TRAM will not be sent out again prior to the trial date but if there is no response from a party (and no certificate of readiness has been lodged) then the case may be listed for mention re trial readiness at the end of the penultimate week before trial.

Since this is a relatively new initiative - one which is being adopted by numerous Crown Courts - I would be most grateful if the word could be spread among criminal litigators and advocates so that we achieve as good a take-up as possible.  If it works it should reduce the number of in-court case readiness hearings and calls to and from the Court office.

HH Judge Jeremy Carey

KENT LAW SOCIETY RESPONSE TO COURTS REFORM POLICY CONSULTATION

26th October 2016

This September the Ministry of Justice went to consultation on proposals entitled 'Transforming the Justice System'.  In summary, this relates to:

  • the creation of an online court, with an associated 'simplified procedural code'

  • greater use of Case Officers to take over some of the routine tasks undertaken by Judges

  • extending the fixed recoverable costs regime

  • extra emphasis on mediation or other ADR

  • attachment of earnings orders to be available in the High Court

Kent Law Society has responded to this consultation and its comments and replies can be viewed HERE.

DOVER & DARTFORD MAGISTRATES' COURT CLOSURES UPDATE

Memo received by Kent Law Society from HMCTS

4th July 2016

Good morning everyone,

I have taken over from Zoe Critchley as Project Manager for the Dartford and Dover closures.  We had our monthly Local Implementation Team (LIT) meeting last week and I am happy to report that things are on track.  Please find below an executive summary for your information, I am of course happy to discuss anything in more detail or send you copy of the action plan if required (this group meets on the first Friday of every month).

Dartford Magistrates' Court

As you will be aware, Dartford ceased to operate as of Tuesday 3rd May 2016.  A revised court schedule was agreed and all interested parties notified.

We are currently undertaking final tasks such as file disposal and removal of furniture.  Decommissioning of phones, printers and computers is complete and removal took place on 28th June.

Dover Magistrates' Court

The intention is to vacate the building by the end of the calendar year. A revised court schedule has been agreed with all interested parties. As of 1 October 2016, all family hearings will take place at Canterbury Magistrates? Court and Confiscation hearings will be heard at Folkestone Magistrates? Court

Floor plans have been drawn up and agreed for proposed building work at Folkestone and are currently out for tender (the original contactors, MACE, no longer have the contract and have been replaced by Turner and Townsend - I have a meeting with them on 8th July to show them the building). Other logistics such as IT, furniture relocation etc are also on our action plan. Staff have all had conversations around the move and individual needs assessments have been carried out where appropriate. Our intention is to set up staff working groups at Dover, during this month, to manage the finer detail of the move - these groups will be accountable to the LIT on a monthly basis.

If you have any particular questions in relation to the project, please feel free to get in touch.

Kind regards

 

Jo-Ann Monaghan, Operations Manager - Kent Magistrates' Court. Mobile: 07776186932

Please note I only work Thursday and Fridays - if your query is urgent please contact Carrie Ross, Zoe Critchley or Kirsty Jones.

DOVER & DARTFORD MAGISTRATES' COURT CLOSURES UPDATE

Memo received by Kent Law Society from HMCTS

Issue 2.0 March 2016

Background

Following the Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament on 11th February a decision has been taken to close Dover & Dartford Magistrates' Courts.

Governance

A HMCTS Estates Board will manage the national programme of court closures.

A HMCTS South East Regional Management Board Steering Group will manage the court closures in the South East.

And at a local level there will be a single Local Implementation Teams (LIT) that will deliver and manage the implementation of the two magistrates' courts in Kent. The second meeting was held on the 6th May and included both HMCTS administration and judicial representation.

Dartford Magistrates' Courts

Dartford ceased to operate as of Tuesday 3rd May 2016.  A revised court schedule was agreed and all interested parties notified.

Dover Magistrates' Courts

The intention is to vacate the building by the end of the calendar year. A revised court schedule has been agreed with all interested parties. As of 1 October 2016, all family hearings will take place at Canterbury Magistrates' Court and Confiscation hearings will be heard at Folkestone Magistrates' Court

Floor plans for Folkestone have been drawn up, agreed by all interested parties and will shortly be going to tender.

Obtaining information

HMCTS Kent will publish a monthly update on progress and timescales and all views are welcome

Any general questions or ideas should be directed to

Jim.Doherty@HMCTS.GSI.GOV.UK

Any questions or ideas about the listing of cases in the Magistrates' Courts should be directed to

Malcolm.Dodds@HMCTS.GSI.GOV.UK

Any questions or ideas relating to the closure of Dartford or Dover Magistrates' courts should be directed to

Zoe.Critchley@HMCTS.GSI.GOV.UK

THE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE COURT FEES CONSULTATION PROCESS

31st August 2015 - (thanks to new post on Civil Litigation Brief)

The government response to the consultation process on court fees is now available - CLICK HERE

It says

"Following a consultation launched by the Coalition Government in January 2015, today's Government Response confirms that we will:

  • Increase the fees for issuing a possession claim in the county court by £75, from £280 to £355. Our analysis of the available evidence suggests that this increase will not deter anyone who would otherwise have taken their claim to court.

  • Increase the fees for general applications in civil proceedings by £50, from £50 to £100, for an application by consent and by £100, from £155 to £255, for a contested application. In order to ensure the most vulnerable are not affected, we are excluding from this fee rise applications such as those to vary or extend an injunction for protection from harassment or violence.

The fee for divorce petitions will also increase to £550.00 (compared to the £750 in the proposal)."

There are proposals on:

  • Increasing the maximum fee to £20,000.

  • Doubling fees in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber.

  • Introducing fees in other tribunals (but not to the Social Entitlement Chamber or to the Mental health Tribunal).

  • A general uplift of 10% to a wide range of fees in civil proceedings.

Concerning Remissions,

" We are committed to protecting access to justice for all and so we will:

  • Make the remissions scheme more generous. We will increase the amount of disposable capital those who need to pay a larger court fee are allowed to have in order to qualify for remission. We are also considering whether other forms of payment or benefit should be excluded from the disposable capital test. The HMCTS remission scheme will apply across all the courts and tribunals on which we are consulting, with the exception of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber where separate arrangements are in place"

Details of the new fees are contained in the Annexes.  Annex B has a Schedule of fees - possession claims, general applications and divorce.  Annex C has a schedule of civil court and tribunal fees subject to the general uplift of 10%.

PRACTITIONER RESPONSE TO LATEST RATE CUT

4th July 2015

The second cut to criminal legal aid rates came in on the first of July. The cut was said to be a further 8.75% cut to all rates paid to solicitors for police  station, magistrates courts and crown court litigators work though a recent analysis has suggested that the cut is closer to 9%. This is the second cut of this size to rates, the first having taken place in March 2014. Sadly it is not the last planned cut as there will be further cuts for practitioners in Kent when the new contracts come into force in January 2016 and the introduction of the national police station fee will see a further cut of some 12% on the reduced post July 2015 rate and the new fee structure for crown court litigator fees will also see additional significant cuts in those fees too.

When introducing the two stage cut (March and July) the MoJ recognised, following the submission of considerable independent evidence to this effect,  that without market consolidation firms would not be able to bear the impact of such a large cut. As the date for the consolidation went further back the MoJ changed its view and proclaimed that the delay will prove "challenging" to providers. For many the challenge is too great and puts their businesses at risk they fear, and in an unprecedented manner many firms have each decided that they will not take on any new work at the reduced rates. The response to the cuts is being felt not only in Kent but across the country.

KENT COURTS THREATENED WITH CLOSURE

16th July 2015

The Ministry of Justice has published proposals for the closure of courts nationwide, and included in the the proposals for the South East, the following Kent Courts are threatened.

  • Dartford Magistrates Court
  • Dover Magistrates Court
  • Tunbridge Wells County and Family Court

Kent Law Society will be formulating a response to the consultation, and members are encouraged to read the MoJ's proposals, which you can access HERE

FDAC TO EXTEND NATIONWIDE

18 February 2015

The Centre for Justice Innovation reports that the Department of Education is going to fund a national unit to extend the Family Drug and Alcohol Court model nationwide.

The Centre has been party to that bid, alongside a range of practitioners and academic institutions, who are coming together to help set up sites in new areas of the country including Coventry, Kent and Medway, Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter, and West Yorkshire ? extending this vital service to vulnerable families across the country.

The Centre has long been a supporter of the the Family and Drug Alcohol Court (FDAC) model, which uses problem solving justice to work with parents, social workers and substance misuse professionals to combat addictions in families and, where possible, keep them together. Where this isn?t possible, the Court aims to make swift decisions in order to find children a permanent loving, stable home with minimal disruption.

FDAC Image

2013 PROTOCOL AND GOOD PRACTICE MODEL : DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION IN CASES OF ALLEGED CHILD ABUSE AND LINKED CRIMINAL AND CARE DIRECTIONS HEARINGS IN KENT

8 August 2014

HH Judge Polden has forwarded the attached Protocol and has asked that all Family Law members familiarise themselves with it.

2013 PROTOCOL

REVISED GUIDANCE ON INTERIM CARE ORDERS AND EMERGENCY PROTECTION ORDERS

August 2014

HH Judge Polden has forwarded the attached revised guidance and has asked that all Family Law members familiarise themselves with it.

REVISED GUIDANCE

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTION NOTICES AND ORDERS

July 2014

Two new guides have been issued in relation to these new procedures.

The first, issued by Kent Policy, is a leaflet which summarises the new DVPN and DVPO and how the police will carry out their powers in relation to them.

The second is a detailed guidance issued by the Justices' Clerks Society which practitioners will find of particular interest.

KENT POLICE LEAFLET

JCS DETAILED GUIDANCE

COURT FEES ON ACCOUNT

23rd April 2014

HMCTS has advised that from July 2014, court fees payable to Salford Business Centre, Cambridge County Court or the Rolls Building can be paid by an account system instead of by cheque. From September, fees to all courts can be paid that way.

To see the changes, print the FAQs or download the HMCTS flyer CLICK HERE

PROCESS FOR KENT POLICE INPUTTING 'SERVED' NON-MOLESTATION ORDERS / RESTRAINING ORDERS / PROHIBITIVE STEPS ORDERS, ETC. ONTO THE APPROPRIATE DATABASES

March 2014

Kent Police have issued detailed guidance notes on the mechanisms for inputting 'served' Orders on to the relevant databases.  This is to enable Kent Police to take suitable action should any Order be reported as having been breached.

CLICK HERE FOR THE GUIDANCE NOTES

DICTAPHONES AND MOBILES IN COURT

13th March 2014

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has confirmed that solicitors can use dictaphones in court buildings if they alert the court security officer, but dictaphones and mobile phones must not be used in a court room.
READ THE HMCTS GUIDANCE

NEW PODCAST: GUIDE TO EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL FEES

On Monday 29 July 2013, a new fee system will be introduced to the employment tribunals process. In this free podcast from the Law Society, Jason Latham, deputy director of tribunals at HM Courts & Tribunals Service, explains how the new system will work.

LISTEN TO THE FREE PODCAST

FINAL VERSION OF KENT BUNDLES DIRECTION

7th September 2013

We previously circulated on behalf of HHJ Polden the draft Kent Bundles Direction.  Here is the

FINAL VERSION WITH TRACK CHANGES

and a

CLEAN FINAL VERSION

The Judge has incorporated most of the suggestions made by practitioners during the consultation period and he intends to review how the new direction works in practice during the pilot period.  So if any member experiences any problems with it, please do let him know.

We previously reported that HHJ Richard Polden, Designated Family Judge for Kent has asked that we circulate the Kent Bundles direction, with comments/ feedback by Friday 23 August and the Kent guidelines that apply from 2 September. 

With the latter, he asked for any queries to be directed to him and has pointed out that neither EPOs or adoptions will be part of the gate keeping to start with and the current arrangements will continue to apply.

The guidelines do not prevent urgent without notice applications being issued.

GUIDELINES RE GATEKEEPING June 2013

PRACTICE DIRECTION 36c AND REVISED PLO

3rd June 2013

HHJ Polden, the designated Family Judge for Kent, has asked me to circulate Practice Direction 36C and the Revised PLO which is an annex to the Practice Direction to all members who do Family work.  Please find them attached.  It is likely that the operative date in Kent will be September, but this will be confirmed in due course.

PRACTICE DIRECTION 36C

REVISED PLO

AMENDMENTS TO FAMILY PROCEDURE RULES PART 25 AND REVISED PRACTICE DIRECTIONS ON EXPERTS

13th December 2012

Please see attached announcement by Nick Goodwin, Deputy Director of Family Justice Policy at the Ministry of Justice.

Rules relating to experts in family proceedings were laid before Parliament on 13 December 2012.  The rules insert a new Part 25 (Experts and Assessors) into the Family Procedure Rules 2010.

SEE LETTER SETTING OUT AMENDMENTS

JUDGES KEY TO DELIVERING FASTER FAMILY JUSTICE SAYS LAW SOCIETY

2nd August 2012

The Law Society is supporting plans by senior judges to streamline family court processes, which includes proposals to fast-track child care cases. We remain concerned about the pressure on courts due to the rise in numbers of unrepresented participants following the cuts to legal aid.


READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE

LOCAL PRACTICE DIRECTION FOR KENT

30th January 2012

HHJ Polden, Designated Family Judge for Kent, has forwarded the final version of this Practice Direction which will be effective from Monday 13th February 2012.

It has been approved both by Mrs Justice Baron and the new High Court Family Liaison Judge, Mrs Justice Theis.

Some amendments have been made to the draft to take into account comments received during the consultation process.

Judge Polden states that he knows that the local bar remain concerned about being required to undertake work that they may not be paid for but, if the order is drawn up at court, it will count as hearing time and he also states that he is pressing HMCTS to try to get them to agree to install wi fi in the court.

The interim practice direction dated 4th April 2011 is discharged from 13th February 2012.

FULL TEXT OF PRACTICE DIRECTION

CONSULTATION - REDUCTION IN FACE-TO-FACE SERVICE PROVISION IN THE CIVIL AND FAMILY COURTS

30th March 2012

Kent Law Society responded, with particular reference to the Maidstone Courts, to the recent consultation on the proposed limitation of access to Court Counters.  The consultation has now closed.

Our concerns particularly addressed the plight of the surge of litigants in person being seen in the courts, and expressed fear that court efficiency will be damaged, not enhanced, by the proposed changes.

Lord Justice Gross, Deputy Senior Presiding Judge, and Kevin Sadler, HMCTS Director of Civil, Family and Tribunals, have circulated an announcement dealing with the future progress of this exercise.

The exercise produced over 340 papers, which are now being analysed, pending a decision on the way forward.

In the meantime, the present counter services will continue to operate as they do now.

TEXT OF ANNOUNCEMENT dated 26th March 2012

KENT LAW SOCIETY'S RESPONSE TO THE CONSULTATION

MODERNISATION OF FACE TO FACE SERVICE PROVISION IN THE CIVIL AND FAMILY COURTS IN MAIDSTONE

6th January 2012

Maidstone County Court has written with details of changes to be made at Maidstone county Court from 2nd April 2012.  Face to face transactions will only be possible on Monday to Friday between 10am to 12 noon - this affects:

  • swearing affidavits

  • collecting orders/papers for service following an urgent hearing

  • swearing statutory declarations

  • attending orders for questioning

  • providing assistance to users who are unable to use alternative methods

Urgent applications will only be able to be dealt with at other times by phoning the court on 01622 202090 (civil) or 01622 202092 (family) or by email to enquiries@maidstone.countycourt.gsi.gov.uk

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL TEXT

ACCESS TO JUSTICE FOR MIGRANTS UPHELD BY COURT OF APPEAL

22nd November 2011

The Court of Appeal has ruled that migrants have the right to insist on taking legal advice before consenting to removal by the UK Border Agency [UKBA] at less than 72 hours notice.

The case of 'Medical Justice v the Home Secretary' related to a UK Border Agency argument that migrants who consented to removal from the UK were in effect waiving their right to legal advice.

The Court of Appeal today decided that removal at less than 72 hours notice was insufficient for access to effective legal advice. In doing so it upheld important principles about an individual's right of access to legal advice and to the courts when facing State action.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS

STONHAM BASS - INFORMATION FOR DEFENCE SOLICITORS

The Bail Accommodation and Support Service (BASS) enables the Court to make greater use of bail and home detention curfew (HDC) through the provision of rented shared homes in small flats and houses in the community. Stonham are one of the biggest providers of such accommodation.

CLICK HERE FOR THEIR LATEST GUIDANCE

SECURE EMAIL FOR DEFENCE PRACTITIONERS IN KENT

The Kent Criminal Justice Board has announced the availability to all criminal justice practitioners of a new free secure national e-mail service called CJ Secure.  The system links securely to police, CPS, Criminal Courts, Probation and Prison systems, using encryption to prevent unauthorised access to data.

The system is free and works on most reasonable modern computers.

DETAILS

COMMITTAL FEE ABOLITION:  LAW SOCIETY LAUNCHES JUDICIAL REVIEW

The Law Society has launched a High Court challenge to the Lord Chancellor's decision to abolish the committal fee in legally aided criminal proceedings for 'either way' cases.


FIND OUT MORE

 

LEGAL FUND FOR REFUGEE CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

A new pilot scheme has been set up to fund interventions and pre-litigation legal research for cases involving children and young people seeking asylum and refugees.


STRATEGIC LEGAL FUND FOR REFUGEE CHILDREN & YOUNG PEOPLE


MHA MacIntyre Hudson - Proud sponsor of Kent Law Society