The Remote Access Family Court: COVID-19 (coronavirus)

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1.1 The COVID-19 crisis presents an unprecedented challenge to the provision of core public services that are traditionally delivered face to face, including healthcare, education and justice. At the same time, advances in communications and information technology made during the last 40 years allow us the opportunity to continue to provide these services effectively, through the use of hardware and software communication platforms that are now readily available. Within this context, it should be possible to continue substantially the full operation of the family justice system, albeit on a remote access basis, notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic.

1.2 Information gathered since the Prime Minister’s announcement of the introduction of stringent social distancing measures on 16 March 2020 suggests that the key challenges in implementing a remote access Family Court for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak centre on the extremely short timescale over which such a system must now be introduced and the need to mediate the very large choice of software and hardware platforms currently available to courts and court users pending the introduction by the Ministry of Justice of a centralised remote access system (the forthcoming ‘Cloud Video Platform’ or CVP).