With great power comes great responsibility!
I’m a hugely positive person. I could find the silver lining in even the darkest of storm clouds.
COVID and lockdown were hard times for everyone, but one of the great advantages was that it forced the court system to embrace technology far faster than it would otherwise have done. It meant that instead of having to do two hours plus of travelling to do a 10 minute hearing, I could now sit in my office and do the same hearing by phone or online, with nothing but positives for my client. It’s quicker, it’s cheaper (and so more cost effective) with less chance of adjournments because of hold ups and traffic problems. Nothing is perfect (internet problems (or barristers not being able to understand how laptops work) being the biggest problem) but it certainly worked extremely well. It was definitely better than justice being put on hold.
We all held our breath after lockdown to see what would happen next, but many hearings have continued online and so far I have not had any remote hearings go awry. So it has all been to the benefits of the parties specifically and, in my opinion, justice generally.
However, many of my colleagues have not fared as well.
Stories of hearings being adjourned for “technical issues” have included:
- An advocate being caught watching porn whilst online to the hearing (not the young lady in the picture with this blog, although she does look like she’s happy about something!) To be fair, some hearings can be very dull and sometimes you just need something to help you, erm, focus.
- Members of the public signing in using rude names which were then visible to others – I haven’t been told what the names were, but it does give you a lot of scope to be imaginative.
- Members of the public blowing raspberries and shouting out obscenities – slightly less imaginative!
As it’s harder to throw someone out of a remote hearing than an actual hearing (with a remote hearing you can just log on again with a different account), if there continues to be unruly behaviour, it’s likely to spoil it for the rest of us as remote hearings will stop being so readily available. In the meantime, however, I will continue to keep my fingers crossed that online hearings will continue, and my court attendance will become similar to my shopping trips – few and far between! With the system coming under more pressure to provide justice on a more cost effective basis, and solicitors under pressure to limit costs in court proceedings, online hearings are clearly the way to go.
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Well behaved whether online or in person.