I have a court date in the next 2 months for a final hearing in our financial dispute / settlement. Its scheduled for one day.
However, my ex has not communicated with her solicitors since October, despite their \"strenuous\" attempts to communicate with her.
Her solicitors have now applied to the court to \"come off the record\". This means she would either be a LIP or get another solicitor for the final hearing. She is also the applicant in the case which has dragged on for nearly 3 years, due to her ignoring correspondence, and simply doing what she feels like.
My question is around what would happen in court if she does not appear ? My solicitor can prove we have served all the papers and she is fully aware & knowledgeable about the court date.
What are you opinions ... any one else experienced this ?
When a solicitor applies to be removed from the court record it is usually due to non-payment. The final hearing is the most expensive part of litigation and most solicitors will insist upon a payment up front such as the barristers fees.
If at the start of a final hearing a party does not turn up the Court can do one of two things. Firstly they can proceed and draw conclusions from the evidence that has been lodged with the Court. This does occur particularly if one party has exhibited this sort of behaviour previously.
Secondly, the Court can adjourn the hearing and make an order that the absent party pay \"the costs and occasioned by the adjournment\" (or similar wording). The Family Court does not like to make costs orders but without any reasonable excuse a costs order is appropriate (your solicitor should file and serve a statement of costs (form N260) in anticipation of this).
As your ex is now a litigant in person the Court is likely to take the soft option and adjourn the hearing. If the court did continue with the hearing and made a final order your ex could apply to set it aside for whatever reason seems plausible e.g. she was depressed and under considerable financial pressure and didn't realise the hearing would go ahead if her solicitor came off the court record.
I would want the solicitor to write directly to your ex stating that as she is now a litigant in person correspondence will be with her directly from now on. Tell her that the hearing will go ahead and that she should comply with outstanding directions of the Court and that you will be seeking an order for costs if the final hearing is adjourned due to a failure on her part.
It's litigious, which flies in the face of the normal family law approach. However as the matter is listed for final hearing there is no mileage in pussy-footing around the subject particularly as an adjourned hearing is a waste of court resources of which other court users could make better use.