The First Ever Remote Court Trial By Skype Has Taken Place
Posted on 3rd April 2020
It is not new that certain participants in a Trial can give evidence by video link, usually a witness who is based on a foreign country or a vulnerable party such as a minor or adult victim who could feel intimidated giving evidence in person during a domestic violence case.
However, until now, it has always been a cornerstone of any Trial that the parties attend a Court, to sit before a Judge who will hear their case and dispense Justice. This has now been changed and the Court have opened the path to fully remote Hearings. MG Legal, your Wills Solicitors in Garstang, has been following recent developments with interest.
What has changed?
Coronavirus (Covid-19) has led to the situation, with over half of the countries’ Courts closing and the confined spaces in the waiting rooms, side-rooms and Courts themselves lending to a higher probability of transmission of Covid-19 between attendees.
This case in particular, one of whether to continue treating a severely handicapped elderly man, was one where a trip to the Court over the three listed days would have brought together various parties, including a GP, posed risks to the health of all participants.
How was the Trial conducted?
The presiding Judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, decided that the urgent Trial should go ahead and that the best way to do so was via Skype for Business, an internet based video link system, routinely used by many other businesses for their conference-call type meetings between various sites around the world.
Was it successful?
One of the Solicitors involved, who was responsible for setting up the Skype links, stated afterwards that the Trial went “almost without a hitch” and that each party was able to see the others and understand exactly what was going on at any given time.
Will this happen more in the future?
Undoubtedly this is the way forward for many Hearings at the Court for the time being. Every video Hearing results in any where between three and several dozen individuals crossing paths and thus, lowering the rate of transmissions of Covid-19 between attendees.
Will this still be the case after the Covid-19 outbreak is under control?
It is highly likely that the Courts will return to ‘in person’ Hearings in the immediate future, however, the current situation has effectively forced a period of testing of video link Trials and so, it may well accelerate the use of this type of Hearing. MG Legal, your Wills Solicitors in Garstang, are open to any type of technology that promotes public safety and also which can save time and costs for the firm and by extension, our clients.
The continued success (assuming there are no major issues over the next few months) of video Hearings will likely result in a much quicker progression to video Trials and particularly for interim Applications where there is little by way of evidence and the Court is simply deciding certain points on the basis of submissions by legal representatives.
How secure is Skype to be hosting sometimes very sensitive Trials?
Nothing is without its’ risks, however, given the Justice process is meant to be an open one, there to be seen to be done, there is usually nothing to stop you observing the proceedings in a Court anyway. The only potential risks could be when, say, a minor is involved, and their identity is confidential and Family matters, where the proceedings are, generally, closed in any event.
Will MG Legal be using technology for remote consultations?
We already do, particularly for matters such as Wills and Powers of Attorney where our clients are generally in higher risk groups. We are, particularly in the current situation, absolutely happy to provide a consultation via Skype and we will look to use Distancing measures whenever it is necessary for you to sign paperwork. As more people become able to use this technology, it is likely it will become the norm.
We do, however, appreciate that some people are not technologically adept and that some people will simply prefer to see their Solicitor face to face. We plan to offer all of these options in the end, however, whilst the strict rules of Social Distancing are in place, we hope our clients will appreciate that we are minimising any in-person services.
How to instruct MG Legal
Simply call, email or send a message using our web-contact form and we will put you in touch with the right member of our team to deal with your enquiry. We aim to accept all Personal Injury claims on a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) basis and all other work, wherever possible on a fixed-fee basis. Get in touch with MG Legal, your Wills Solicitor in Garstang and we will look to get the ball rolling the same day.
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