A number of pilot schemes are in operation in the Family Court. They are set out at Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010), SI 2010/2955, Pt 36 and the associated practice directions. Many, although not all, of the pilot schemes are part of the digitalisation programme set out by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), with the aim of increasing the efficiency of family proceedings. This Practice Note provides in-formation about pilot schemes that are in operation, including in relation to divorce, private and public children, the Financial Remedies Court (FRC), financial remedy applications, consent orders, transparency, video hearings, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage protection orders (FMPO).
Note that while video hearings have been piloted in some family courts, a practice direction under FPR 2010 has not been issued in this regard, and the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has indicated that such hearings will not normally be appropriate for contested cases involving the giving of oral evidence, for multi-part cases, for cases concerning litigants in person and for cases concerning children. In addition, the President has said that Family Court litigants participating in any full video hear-ing should do so from authorised places such as a Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitors’ office. See: Judges publish plans for 2019 in relation to online courts, LNB News 08/01/2019 89.
Divorce pilot schemes
Three FPR 2010 practice directions have been issued for the divorce pilot scheme, each for a specified pe-riod of time and superseding the practice direction previously issued, ie:
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