A full day of hearings of child protection cases will take place in Dublin District Court following a call-over also conducted remotely on the Monday prior to the remote hearing on Friday.
The call-over – where the lawyers in each case update the court on its readiness to be heard, whether it will be contested and the length of time it is likely to take – considered the cases listed for four days, the first three to be heard physically in the court, and the fourth remotely.
At the outset the President of the District Court, Judge Colin Daly, welcomed all participants and said that the current situation presented particularly challenges for the District Court, especially as certain statutory provisions applied to it that did not apply to the other courts. However, following discussions with a number of colleagues, he was satisfied that they could now proceed to remote hearings, as a “live television link”. He pointed out that he had issued a Practice Direction and Guidelines for this for the Dublin Metropolitan District Court.
This involved new ways of working, which would mean reducing the number of people in court and the time spent in court. He did not expect any diminution in the volume of work for the court and these measures would probably have to be in place for some months.
They would involve new ways of doing business in court, including cooperating in new ways and finding ways to negotiate with each other in order to reduce the matters brought into court.
The judge taking the call-over reminded all participants and observers that the proceedings were in camera.
Ten cases were listed for the first day’s hearing, many of which were extensions of interim care orders, and most of which were not likely to be contested. Eight cases, including an after-care review, were listed for the second day, and a similar number for the third day. All were expected to be short. Fourteen cases were listed for the fourth day, which would all be heard remotely. None of them were expected to be contested, as the majority were applications to extend interim care orders with the consent of the parents, or where the parents had not engaged in the proceedings or were both out of the jurisdiction.
A report on the remote hearing will be published here after it takes place.