14. Court Hearings
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There are various types of court hearings with which a solicitor must become familiar.
Paper applications are made on form N244 and will incur a court fee.
There is no court hearing for these types of applications, with the obvious advantage being that costs are reduced.
It is still necessary, however, to alert opponents by giving them notice of the application.
Opponents are free to object to the matter being dealt with in this manner and can apply to the Court requesting that there be a hearing.
Examples of common matters dealt with by paper application include a change of solicitor or service outside the jurisdiction.
Face to Face Hearings
If the matter is not being dealt with by paper application, it may be necessary to attend court for an interim hearing.
Such hearings may either stem from an application made with notice or from an application made without.
On Notice Applications
In practice, these are the most common and are usually used to deal with non-urgent matters.
Solicitors should prepare for this type of hearing by requesting consent for the application from all opponents, completing form N244 and then paying the relevant fee.
Once the Court has received the application, they will list the case with a District Judge and then send notice of the time and date of the hearing to all parties.
District Judges should be addressed at the hearing as Sir or Madam.
Without Notice Hearings
By virtue of their title, without notice hearings are made without giving notice to the other parties.
Under Practice Direction 23.3, occasions when applications should be made in this way include cases of exceptional urgency, where the overriding objective will be furthered by doing so, when the parties consent, the Court gives permissions or where the CPR or a Practice Direction permits it.
Urgent applications may be delivered by hand but otherwise, they should be sent by post along with all supporting evidence and the relevant fee.
Such hearings will involve a conference call between the parties and a District Judge.
This prevents the parties from having to attend court and therefore is designed to reduce time and costs.
Such hearings may take place anywhere except the Royal Courts of Justice and indeed under Practice Direction 23.6.2, some hearings are automatically conducted by phone:
PD 23. 6.2
Subject to paragraph 6.3, at a telephone conference enabled court the following hearings will be conducted by telephone unless the Court otherwise orders:
(a) allocation hearings;
(b) listing hearings; and
(c) interim applications, case management conferences and pre-trial reviews with a time estimate of no more than one hour.
6.3 states that paragraph 6.2 does not apply where:
(a) the hearing is of an application made without notice to the other party;
(b) all the parties are unrepresented; or
(c) more than four parties wish to make representations at the hearing.
Sitting Behind Counsel
Solicitors may be decide to brief counsel to attend an interim hearing and as such, may be required to attend court with them.
Counsel will usually be instructed to attend if an interim application is particularly complex or is expected to last for several hours.
During the hearing, the solicitor will sit behind counsel, who will be the one to address the Court. The solicitor will, however, be expected to take detailed notes of proceedings.
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