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    Almost all the parents felt that their legal representation was compromised by the Coronavirus restrictions and that this detrimentally affected the court outcomes. Some people had severe difficulty in accessing their representation or engaging with them effectively before or between hearings. Parents who could not meet their legal representative face to face found it very difficult to properly represent their case. Within the hearing parents were not able to engage with their representatives. Many also felt this was compounded because the remote hearing meant that they were invisible in the process:

    One parent taking part in two hearings by telephone summed up all these aspects:

    P18- “So my last two hearings I didn’t meet my barrister. The last hearing, I didn’t get to brief my barrister ahead of the hearing. The Judge has never seen me, she can’t see what person I am.  I’m not allowed to speak so she can’t hear what kind of person I am. My barrister said things that were incorrect and I wasn’t allowed to put my hand up quickly and correct her.  Then the local authority said that contact was going to be for 3 hours and in a contact centre. I felt like saying, hang on a minute, we don’t have our contact in a contact centre, we have it out in the community, that’s the way it has always been. They were allowed to say that they were going to keep it like this until the restrictions.  All that got said and you can’t challenge it because you are on the blooming telephone. And for your barrister when they say something wrong you can make a noise and jump up and down a bit in your chair and get their attention and correct them.”