Covid-19 has brought with it a lot of firsts for me, with the biggest one to date being remote hearings. Having read the guidance on remote hearings, I have to admit that I was anxious about handling a remote hearing given that we would be completely reliant on technology. I can now say that I have survived my first remote hearing.
The Courts themselves are currently dealing with many obstacles to try and make as many hearings as possible proceed during these difficult times. As the Courts themselves are very busy, 48 working hours before the hearing I was told that I needed to complete a questionnaire in relation to a remote hearing and a Consent Order. Fortunately, despite the very tight time frame, my client and the other side were able to complete this documentation on the same day and send it the Court for approval.
24 hours before the hearing, I received confirmation that the hearing was going ahead by telephone and, as solicitor for the applicant, was required to ensure that a court approved conference call provider was used. I was able to speak to BT Legal, who were able to confirm that an operator was available at the specified time for the hearing and listed each person who would be placed onto the call. I was able to speak to my client and the other party to ensure that everyone was aware of how the hearing would work.
On the day of the hearing, I received a call from BT Legal and was placed onto the conference call first. I waited for my client, the other party and the Judge to also be placed into the call. To my surprise, this all went ahead smoothly and the matter was heard. Whilst it was different than being in the Court room, each party was given the opportunity to be heard and we had no issues hearing anyone else. The matter was dealt with swiftly with matters being concluded.
My thoughts on the process are that, whilst matters were rather last minute, the hearing itself ran smoothly and all parties were content with the outcome. Is there a possibility that remote hearings could become a regularity in the future?
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