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In short, yes they can. It is up to the judge how a case is conducted but they will hear any legitimate representations as to why a telephone hearing is inappropriate.
Even though it is listed for a final hearing, the judge may have no intention of hearing it as a Final Hearing. I did one in Sheffield earlier this week and within 30 minutes the judge agreed that it was unsuitable for a telephone hearing and adjourned it off.
In terms of your additional evidence, send it to the court asap via e-mail and to the other side and you will have to request permission to use it at the telephone hearing.
And just to answer your other point, the court office are right. If you do not take part in the telephone hearing the court will likely go ahead in your absence.
Everyone has to cooperate in these difficult times and the court will expect you to take part in the telephone hearing even if it is just to explain your difficulties and request an adjournment.
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If the hearing is on Monday, best to wait until the hearing and explain to the judge that you request an adjournment. They will listen to your reasons.
As I've said, if it is a contested hearing with people needing to give evidence etc then it is likely not the judge's intention to proceed with the final hearing anyway. They keep the matter listed to see if any further directions etc can be given.
Your human rights are a right to a fair trial.
The judge's make an assessment as to whether a fair trial can take place over the telephone. Generally they are not doing many in-depth hearings over the telephone. If the case is as complex as you say then the judge will likely adjourn it.
If they proceed unreasonably then it might be a ground for appeal. Do you know who the judge is?
The rating should just be at the top of the page.
If you give me the last 3 numbers of the claim number I'll check and can tell you who you have on Monday and what they are like as i practice in Sheffield.
Ok good news, its only listed for a directions appointment not a final hearing.
You have DJ Roebuck who is decent enough as a judge.
Yes it says directions and also she has another hearing 45 minutes after yours so that's not enough time for a final hearing.
The Social worker probably has the wrong end of the stick!