Covid Restrictions – The Return of The Good Old Days?
To the relief of many, the end of Covid restrictions marks a welcome return to normal.
But for many, with family law matters, a return to normal is no relief at all.
Two reasons stand out, cost and accessibility. During the height of the pandemic rather than requiring clients, lawyers and judges to attend court in person, protocols were established to enable clients and counsel to attend by phone, or by video through MS Teams.
This meant counsel, and judges, could remain at their office, home, or court house, while the client participated by phone, or MS Teams.
Less travel, and typical court delay, meant counsel could focus on other matters, and files, while awaiting their matter to be heard. With counsel attending court in their own office, meant less time (and costs) for the client. Clients enjoyed the convenience of attending by phone or MS Teams rather than travelling to court, or taking time from work.
In addition, since in-person attendance was unnecessary, clients in Prince George, or Victoria, or other remote location, could retain the services of counsel, regardless of their geographical location. Not restricted by geography, clients could access and retain, whatever professional best suited their needs, especially valuable in smaller BC communities, with limited access to lawyers.
However, recently, apart from certain proceedings, all court proceedings are now returning to pre pandemic, in-person proceedings.
Legal costs to clients will now inevitably increase, since counsel are now required to incur more time attending court in person, while clients will lose the flexibility, and accessibility of retaining family counsel, regardless of their location.
While these changes in court protocol may seem, to some, a return to the good old days, the good old days for many, are not so good after all.