Our local court recently re-circulated the contact details and instructions for the out of hours emergency court service – a mobile number that is kept on when the court is closed, so that really urgent hearings can be convened at evenings and weekends, when genuinely necessary.
In our field of work that is likely to be where there is an abduction or some high risk situation involving a child – stuff that really can’t wait.
But the number is “strictly for legal professionals only” and isn’t available to litigants in person.
Clearly it’s important that the system isn’t abused with people ringing in to try and secure urgent hearings that aren’t really urgent – but is it justifiable to withhold this route of access to the court from litigants in person now that they make up such a significant portion of court users?
I don’t know what the answer is really, because I can see it could be a total disaster to give this number out. And in the majority of urgent scenarios legal aid would probably be available, so there is likely a limited need for this service. But it’s an illustration of how we’ve yet to fully adapt to the new order of things.
P.S.11 May : The Royal Courts of Justice DO have an out of hours number for high court matters, that is available to the public. See here. It is possible that contact to this number in cases of suspected / imminent abduction will result in contact being made with a local court or with an urgent hearing being convened in the High Court, possibly by telephone. It shouldn’t be forgotten that if you are worried about abduction you may well qualify for legal aid. Thanks to the lovely twitterer who reminded me of this (but whose tweets have now disappeared so far down my timeline I can’t find them)…