Lucy, who has had first-hand experience of several remote hearings says:
"By and large remote hearings work well, particularly where the matter involves principally legal argument. Some benefits are clear: there is a cost saving when court facilities do not need to be used; the hearings feel less intimidating — a good thing for a client — and are much more time efficient.” She continued: “But there are certain interruptions that do not occur in a courtroom: difficulties with technology, people forgetting to mute their microphones and people joining halfway through the submissions forgetting to turn off their video. I attended one hearing where defending counsel was unable to make submissions because the video distorted her voice with the judge commenting that she sounded like a Disney mouse — far from ideal.”
“I think it is difficult to achieve the same level of open justice online as in a courtroom accessible to members of the public. Informal communication is also more difficult. While we can use WhatsApp, it is not as efficient as being able to pass a short note or speak to counsel directly.”
She concluded: “Remote hearings have proven their value. They can be efficient for certain matters such as case management conferences and light interlocutory hearings where only legal argument is required, but I think that trials involving witnesses should still be heard in person."
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