COVID-19 has changed professional environments within many industries, including the legal profession. Due to various lockdowns, social distancing requirements and the reluctancy of meeting face to face, online platforms are today used more than ever for lawyers and their clients to effectively communicate with one another and the Court.
The Court known as, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (“FCFCOA”) has made a shift to electronic virtual Court hearings, through an online platform called “Microsoft Teams”. These virtual Court environments, although online, still uphold the formalities of “face to face” hearings.
These changes are potentially advantageous for clients, the Court, and lawyers. Due to the virtual Court platform, the Court can now distribute its case load among several Registries state-wide, without being confined to the physical constraints of “face to face” hearings. This is possible in the Family Court jurisdiction noting that the FCFCOA is a national jurisdiction. This can help with the current backlog of cases and delays in the Court system.
Lawyers are now more accepting of technological platforms. They use these platforms to meet with their clients. This better equips them to provide services to clients statewide and even internationally. In addition, lawyers can provide mediation options to their clients through other online platforms, such as “Zoom”, “Skype” and “Microsoft Teams”. These online platforms have been used to settle many family law disputes in the past 24 months and are an effective platform to conduct mediations.
Clients also can more easily join Court events and mediations, without physically travelling to Court. This has provided some clients with ease of access to justice, in circumstances where it may be difficult for them to pursue their family law matters alongside their busy day-to-day schedules. These platforms can also provide a less stressful forum and safer for vulnerable parties, who are not necessarily comfortable being face-to-face with their ex-partner.
Albeit the above, the FCFOA however still has capacity to cater for face-to-face hearings and such capacity is likely to increase when restrictions ease in Australia.
It would not be surprising, if as state lockdowns ease, if the FCFOA continues to take advantage of the newfound online platforms for future hearings, noting its success thus far.
At Dimocks Family Lawyers, we provide Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams conferencing for all clients. We also provide online mediation services. Our up-to-date technology ensures that our clients can attend conferences, mediations and other Court events, whilst adhering to current social distancing requirements and COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, as and when they arise.
To book an online initial conference or mediation with one of our lawyers, do not hesitate to contact us on (02) 9221 8390 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.