Attending Virtual Court Proceedings
How do remote hearings work outside of the court environment and what are your responsibilities?
Remote hearings have become a key part of the legal sector landscape, as social distancing requirements prohibit the majority of mass gatherings in court. If you are required to attend an upcoming remote hearing, here is what you can expect to take place.
What Is A Remote Hearing?
Remote hearings are carried out either with video or telephone conferencing technology. Phone calls are best suited for simple hearings, whereas video conferencing will benefit trials and appeals which are more complex and perhaps include more speakers.
Remote hearings are an important part of keeping the legal sector functioning during the pandemic. All hearings are recorded as usual and transcription services ensure that there is a written copy of proceedings to be kept by the court as required.
Joining A Remote Hearing
The court will typically set up the hearing and provide the parties and their legal teams with the necessary log-in and password details, in order to be admitted to the hearing. English courts are predominantly using Skype for Business at the moment, although it is anticipated that Cloud Video Platform will be rolled out subsequently. Users simply need to download the necessary app and click the link. However, it would be good practice to have a run-through in advance of the hearing, so as not to cause any unnecessary delays.
In advance of the hearing, certain points will need to be discussed to ensure that the remote hearing runs smoothly. The court and all parties should agree who will be on camera and audio, how interjections can be made by the legal teams and in what way oaths can be accepted by witnesses on the stand.
Remember too that if global parties are represented at the hearing that you should agree an appropriate time for it to take place.
Client Communication During The Hearing
There will also need to be provision for clients to interact with their legal teams during the hearing. In a court room, they would be sat side by side, but during a remote hearing they will need to rely on technology to communicate at a secondary level. Options include messaging functionality, emails and telephone calls. However, extra care must be taken when carrying out this communication to ensure that you’re messaging the right person or cannot be overhead by your app audio. You will undoubtedly be sharing sensitive information which should remain confidential from everyone else at the remote hearing.
It is essential that you respect the remote hearing process and behave just as you would in court, dressed appropriately for the event. You should set up your call in a quiet area of your home, free from distractions. If the remote hearing is lengthy then the judge will offer breaks, so you shouldn’t be tempted to eat or drink anything other than a glass of water during the proceedings.
Finally, be aware that under no circumstance should you make any recording of the hearing. Doing so without permission from the court will find that you’re in contempt. If you wish to see a transcript of the hearing afterwards, you can apply to the court.