It has been announced that from 27th July Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) will ask everyone going to court in England to wear a face mask. In Scotland and Wales, wearing face masks will not be compulsory. If you have a valid reason you may be excused from wearing a face mask. These reasons include:
- If you have a health issue which means wearing a face mask is difficult;
- If wearing a face mask will cause severe distress;
- If a deaf person needs to lip-read; or
- When you need to drink, eat or take medicine.
This is part of the initiatives to minimise the risks posed by COVID-19 to court users, including judges, barristers, solicitors, clients, court staff etc. If you do not have a face mask, you can ask a member of court staff to provide one.
If you need to give evidence or speak in the court room or for identification purposes then the face mask can be removed, with social distancing of 2 metres being observed.
As a family law solicitor and mediator, I try to avoid the need to go to court for my clients by resolving matters relating to their finances upon a divorce or separation and/or children amicably and constructively. This usually saves both time and legal fees.
Family mediation appointments can take place online, or as lockdown restrictions ease, potentially in person with social distancing in place if both parties are comfortable. I also deal with matters collaboratively with the other family lawyer and spouse/partner in meetings which can be done online too.