Update on progressing family cases in the Sheriff Court during the COVID-19 outbreak

The scales of justice

With effect from 1 May 2020 it will be possible to make progress in Family Court proceedings that were raised and in court prior to the current restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.

Family Court actions and applications in relation to Adults with Incapacity are both included in the categories of Sheriff Court business that can, in certain circumstances, be progressed notwithstanding the restrictions in place.

So, if you were involved in either type of Court proceedings and those Court proceedings have been either sisted or adjourned as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, then it is possible, if the Court is satisfied that there is “good reason”, to have the Court proceedings “re-started”.

An application requires to be made to the Sheriff Court in order that this can happen. You will require to set out a number of matters in your application. The court also expects all parties involved in the court proceedings to discuss the issues to be resolved and wherever possible narrow the scope of any dispute. The Court proceedings will not be re-started if the only way matters can be resolved is as a result of the Court hearing evidence. Also, the Court proceedings must be capable of being progressed remotely, either by way of telephone conference call or some other electronic form of communication.

Whilst this is not a return to business as normal, it is a positive and welcome development in terms of which progress can be made in certain types of family Court proceedings.

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