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Tim Jenkins considers the Family Procedure Rules' new phone-in hearings

9 May 2011

The ‘overriding objective’ is a familiar principle to civil practitioners but has hitherto only applied in the family context to ancillary relief (financial order proceedings, to use the new jargon). It is now extended to cover all family cases but modified to include a reference to the court having regard to any welfare issues involved.

The court’s case management powers are wide ranging, although they are to be exercised in the light of the overriding objective. This includes bringing forward or adjourning a hearing, deciding the order in which issues will be dealt with or to exclude issues altogether and requiring a party to attend court (rule 4.1(3)(e)) – and to conduct a hearing by telephone. Really?

PD18A puts the meat on the telephone. Maybe a visit to Primark will have to be sacrificed, but the savings in costs are potentially enormous. The court will normally look for consent to a telephone hearing from all parties; the applicant’s legal representativ...

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