Covid-19 – Guidance on COP Hearings

Guidance has been issued by the Vice President of the Court of Protection with respect to hearings and how they are to be conducted during the current Covid-19 crisis.

Issued on the 18th March the guidance states that:

  • the approach for the time being will be:
  • Hearings with time estimates of 2 hours or less will be conducted by telephone. The applicant should make the necessary arrangements as set out in COPGN5;
  • Hearings with time estimate of more than 2 hours will, in principle, proceed unless and until further guidance or specific application in the case (which will be decided by the judge hearing the case);
  • It is likely that there will be an increase in the number of hearings being conducted remotely either in whole or in part;
  • Where hearings are to be conducted by telephone or by skype, the court listings will be published in advance as usual and any updated guidance will be made public.

The key messages from the guidance are that hearings expected to last under two hours should be conducted by telephone, for hearings that are expected to last longer than two hours parties should take all possible routes to come to an agreement wherever possible but without compromising the interests of the client. Where it is not possible parties should seek a telephone/skype hearing having clearly identified the areas of agreement and disagreement.

Mr Justice Hayden goes on to state the pressure on Court staff at this time is barely sustainable and all professionals should do their best to alleviate the pressure as a “Professional Imperative”. He goes on to add that the “pandemic is causing great personal as well as professional anxiety. It is essential that you all keep yourselves as safe and as healthy as you possibly can.”

The full guidance can be downloaded here.