Technology and the Court

It was reported last week that, ‘according to a report by the most senior family judge, Sir Andrew McFarlane, Judge’s prefer a more laborious method of producing judgements.

This heading was potentially derrived from the President’s Guidance: Forms of Orders in Children Cases 17 June 2019.

In the guidance Sir McFarlane discussed the purpose of the 6 June 2018 Practice Guidance and standard ordes which was to provide a comprehensive menu from which orders and directions could be selected. The aim was to assist with those preparing the Court order with electronic orders that can be obtained easily.

He comments that in the current climate, (an increase in litigant in persons is one reason given) the court simply does not have time in every case to meet the need for the preparation of full orders after every hearing as set our previously.

He confirms that the first order in any child case should comply with Previous Guidance. Subsequent orders (other than final order) should tailor the order to the particular circumstances of the case with a minimum requirement.

It is hoped that, eventually, court orders can be drawn with ease from an electronically supported system.

As practioners we can see that the Family courts are slowly moving the same way as criminal courts to being paperless. More and more advocates have laptops at court enabling a typed order to be sent directly into court following the hearing. There are more electronic bundles being filed with the court and being sent to counsel. Not only does this mean less paper work to carry (which is good for both our backs and the environment) but also a more efficient system.

However, it would be a dramatic change in the way that the courts are run and it must be accepted that it is a slow process.

We will stay tuned and maybe there will be a time when hearings are carried out with advocates dialling in from all around the country.