The Dublin Circuit Family Courts began a trial of virtual hearings for judicial separation and divorce applications on consent on 8 May.
Keith Walsh, (small picture), a member of the Law Society’s Family Law Committee, has compiled a guide for solicitors on virtual hearings in the court, including details of the procedures and technology involved as well as a number of practical tips.
He says some applications in person are still being dealt with by the Dublin Circuit Court office and pension adjustment orders are being granted without the necessity for attending court by sending the necessary paperwork in hard copy to the Dublin Circuit Court office.
The guide points out that different rules are in place for each court jurisdiction, with guidance available on the Courts Service website.
The app being used for the virtual hearings is Pexip, which can be downloaded for PCs, tablets or mobile phones but can also be accessed through a browser.
Keith Walsh advises solicitors to plan to log into Pexip at least 10 minutes before the hearing, and to have a practice run with the app if it is the first time using it.
He adds that it may be useful to arrange a separate channel of communication – such as WhatsApp, Zoom or regular phone – for sharing comments and instructions with other members of the legal team and the client while the remote court hearing is taking place.
The guide also advises solicitors on each side to make sure they have each other’s mobile phone numbers.
“Remember this is still a court of law. Behave as you would in court and remind the client what is expected,” Keith Walsh says.