COVID-19: HM Courts and Tribunals Service guidance on telephone and video hearings

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has published detailed guidance on telephone and video hearings amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The guidance updated yesterday (published 8 April 2020), provides an array of advise in respect of preparing for and attending both telephone and video hearings. The guidance also details the various platforms individuals can use to access hearings, and further sets out how the hearings will be conducted and concluded.

The current HMCTS guidance for attending a telephone or video hearing is as follows:

-Participants should be in a quite, private space and inform other household members that they should not be interrupted.

– Participants must ask for permission should they need to move away from their screen or phone during the hearing.

– Prior to taking part in the hearing, participants are advised to discuss how they will communicate privately with their legal representatives during the hearing.

– Prior to hearing, participants must test equipment and ensure their telephones, laptops or tablets are fully charged.
– All participants of both telephone and video hearings must follow the same rules as in a court room.

– The procedure for recording video hearings will be the same as for the hearings that are recorded in the court building.

If for any reason an individual is unable to joint a hearing, they must inform HMCTS using the contact details given on their hearing notice. At this point, the court will decide whether the hearing will either go ahead irrespective of attendance, or, be scheduled for a later date.

A hearing could take place by phone, video via either CVP, Skype or BT MeetMe platforms – this will again be detailed on the participants’ hearing notice. For step-by-step details on how to join hearings using these platforms, see here.

Following the hearing, a judge or person in charge of the proceedings will first check whether they have dealt with all the issues raised and thereafter inform participants of when they can expect a decision.

For the full text on the HMCTS guidelines, click here.

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