Expatriate Law: Seamless Operation Despite Lockdown
Expatriate law has been almost entirely paper-free for over 6 years. We work for clients all over the world from our offices in London, Dubai and Singapore. Every single member of the 16 person team, from Paralegals to Partners, are fluent users of technology.
- We are all set up with double or triple screens;
- Internal communications across our three offices take place via Zoom and whatsapp audio;
- We collaborate on documents in real-time by sharing screens;
- We have extensive access to online databases and journals to conduct accurate and up to date legal research;
- We have access to a complete suite of software to organise our our client’s confidential information, prepare court papers, and to collate searchable/paginated e-bundles for conferences and court hearings;
- All of our client’s documents stored securely in the cloud thus allowing us to access and work on them from anywhere in the world.
The experience we had already accumulated has allowed our existing client work to continue seamlessly despite the global lockdown.
Remote Working for Lawyers and Courts
It is worth noting that the vast majority of our cases can now be conducted entirely digitally:
- Client consultations can take place via telephone call, whatsapp audio, Skype and Zoom.
- Divorce petitions can be issued online;
- Financial applications can be submitted to the court digitally;
- The use of digital signatures in most legal documents is valid. There is no longer any need for documents to be physically signed and couriered around the world. The Law Commission Report on Electronic Execution of Documents 2019 confirmed that an electronic signature can be used in the family law context;
- Applications can be made to the court for permission to serve papers electronically by email or via social media channels. That application can be made before or after the attempt at service has taken place;
- Mediation can take place using video conferencing;
- Conferences with senior barristers can take place using video conferencing;
- Consent orders can be lodged online or submitted by email;
- E-bundles are currently obligatory and can be submitted via dropbox;
- First Appointments can be side-stepped by agreement using the Accelerated First Appointment procedure set out in the fourth schedule to the Financial Remedies Court Good practice protocol;
- Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearings are now commonly dealt with privately. Private FDRs can very easily be conducted by video at a time which suits all parties involved;
- The English courts are now implementing measures to enable contested hearings to be handled remotely;
- Arbitration has been extended to cover child relocation cases.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has forced the legal profession to catch up and adapt to the digital era. It is likely that we will look back on this period as the turning point which changed day to day legal practice changed forever.
For further advice on family law issues during the Coronavirus Lockdown, please click here.