Are video hearings the future?

13 Apr 2019

The first complete video hearing has taken place in the County Court. Could they become a regular occurrence in the future?

The Judge at the Manchester Civil Justice Centre ran proceedings from an open courtroom where two litigants in person attended remotely, via video link.

The Court Service is running a video hearing pilot for a year – with a limited number of cases, approved as suitable by the Judge and with the parties vetted in advance, in the Manchester and Birmingham Civil Justice Centres.

Is this a Blade Runner moment, or a major step in the Court’s modernisation and use of digital technology, as suggested by the Ministry of Justice? James Braund, specialist Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence solicitor and Senior Associate at Trethowans LLP’s Poole and Bournemouth offices, is broadly supportive.

“Telephone procedural hearings have been commonplace for some time, and I have seen a witness living abroad give his evidence at trial by video link. This development is only unusual because it involved two litigants in person, with no lawyers involved.

I can see some positives in this pilot. My clients often suffer from significant and catastrophic injuries and, therefore, it would be of significant benefit to them to not have to attend court for such hearings face-to-face. The key, as with any use of technology, is to ensure that any potential issues with reliability are ironed out first, before this is rolled out further.”

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