There has been a huge change this year in respect of civil and commercial litigation trials and how they are conducted. 

For obvious reasons traditional trials (which typically take place in a court room with a witness box, with judges and barristers often in formal dress and paper trial bundles lying around everywhere you look) are currently few and far between.  Trials now frequently take place remotely by video hearing, with all interested parties attending the hearing via their own PCs and laptops.

Having now participated in a number of remote video trials I can happily report that, even for a technophobe like me, it is a surprisingly user-friendly way of conducting a trial.  The experience can’t fully replicate some of the benefits of being in an actual court room, but it is certainly preferable to there being no trial at all for months on end.

Some unLTD readers may have to attend court remotely at some point, whether purely as a witness or as a party to a dispute. Here is my guide to anyone attending a remote video hearing, based on my experiences so far:

  1. Have two screens available to you if you can. You will need to have one screen showing you the faces of the judge and the barristers and so on and another screen showing you the trial bundle of case documents that everybody else is working from, and which you will refer to frequently.


  1. Make sure you have a decent connection where you are for the purposes of the hearing. Buffering and screen freeze can be a problem and can cause havoc when witnesses are giving evidence.


  1. Prepare for your attendance by checking that your audio and video functions work, and that you can be seen properly via your webcam.


  1. Try to ensure you are in a place where you’re unlikely to have any interruptions. In a recent case, one of the witnesses was coming to the end of giving evidence when his excitable dog scampered into the room, presumably wanting his late morning walk. The judge was amused, but not all judges would be so forgiving.


  1. Be prepared to be available at short notice to attend court. Witness lists can change quickly depending on other people’s availability during a trial.


  1. Don’t forget that even if you are not wearing a suit in a witness box, you are still giving evidence in formal court proceedings. The impression that you give and the manner in which you conduct yourself is important (special mention here to an opposing witness who, upon being called to give evidence at short notice towards the end of the working day, had a can of premium lager next to him when he first appeared on the screen!)

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