Practice message issued for London Financial Remedies Court

The lead judge for the London Financial Remedies Court, and deputy national lead judge, His Honour Judge Hess, has issued a practice message for those appearing as practitioners or as litigants in the London Financial Remedies Court at the Central Family Court, dealing with, among other things, remote or attended hearings, gatekeeping and allocation, the digital consent order system and the digital contested cases system, fixing dates for the next hearing at the Central Family Court and interpreters

Key points of note include that:

  • in view of the national approval of the Financial Remedies Court, the name London Financial Remedies Court or London FRC should be used and the term 'Financial Remedies Unit', or FRU, should cease to be used
  • after a period of time when remote hearings were the only listing option, it is now open, as a judicial decision, for attended or hybrid listings to be given
  • the London FRC receives applications from people who live outside London and have no real connection with London, therefore, at the time of application (whether on the digital portal or otherwise), the allocation questionnaire should establish the following:

○ where the applicant's home is

○ whether the case is complex or not, and

○ why the London FRC has been selected

  • the digital consent order system has been fully up and running since November 2020 and all consent orders produced prior to contested proceedings are dealt with on this system, which are currently being dealt with within a few weeks of lodging
  • the digital contested cases system is also now up and running, in relation to which there have been 'a number of teething problems', but as the clear plan from HMCTS is that there will be 'mandation', ie the digital portal will be the only permitted way to issue a Form A from a date yet to be fixed, but likely to be in the course of 2022, it follows that the digital portal needs be used 'in earnest', with a view to using it for all purposes in due course
  • save in the most exceptional circumstances, fixing the date of the next hearing should happen in court before the current hearing concludes
  • a document will shortly be issued called the 'Statement on the Efficient Conduct of Financial Remedy Hearings in the Financial Remedies Court below High Court Judge Level' (see Consultation on statement as to the conduct of proceedings in the Financial Remedies Court below High Court judge level LNB News 27/10/2021 68), and

• in relation to foreign language interpreters in money cases, the guidance set out at paragraph 21 of the practice message should be followed in the London FRC, as while litigants in financial remedies cases are ordinarily not entitled to a court-funded language interpreter, HMCTS is required to provide an interpreter if that is the only way that a litigant can take part in a hearing and the checklist set out at paragraph 21 should be used to determine if a litigant satisfies the requirements for free provision of an interpreter