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Detailed guide: HMCTS video hearings: guidance for legal professionals

Hm Courts Tribunals Service

February 28
19:42 2020

Introduction

In a fully video hearing, all people appear by video using a computer. This can be from home, an office or somewhere else.

Fully video hearings are being tested as an option in some hearing types in tribunals, civil and family law. This includes basic tax tribunals, set-aside judgments, first direction appointments and short notice injunction hearings.

Video hearings - guidance for legal professionals (video)

Technical guidance

Hardware specification (PDF, 24KB, 1 page)
Firewall rules (PDF, 337KB, 2 pages)

Deciding if a video hearing is suitable

A fully video hearing will not take place unless the judge is satisfied that its in the interests of justice for all parties involved.

Before a video hearing takes place, a judge will consider:

  • the details of the case
  • the nature and complexity of the hearing
  • any information youve given that might affect the hearing taking place by video

For each hearing, youll be able to provide details of any physical characteristics, impairments or practical issues the judge should consider.

Facilities for a video hearing

All parties must have the right facilities and computer access.

This means:

  • a quiet, private room with internet access where you can sit with your client
  • a laptop or desktop computer with a camera and microphone (not a tablet, not a mobile phone)

Before the day of the hearing

Youll receive notification of the video hearing, with a website link and sign in details.

Youll need to:

  • sign in and test the computer equipment youll use for the hearing
  • add any details the court should consider
  • advise if youre appointing a barrister and who it is
  • request a practice video call with a video hearings officer (if needed)

Once youve advised the video hearings team of the barristers details, theyll receive a website link and sign in details. Theyll need to respond and test the computer equipment theyll use for the hearing.

On the day of the hearing

You should:

  • sign in to the website, ideally no later than 20 minutes before the hearing
  • stand by for a final check with a video hearings officer around 10 minutes before the hearing

You may use the video service to have a private consultation with another party before the hearing (if you wish). The service is available 30 minutes before the hearing start time.

No-one can be seen or heard until the judge starts the hearing. Everyone will join at the same time from an online waiting room.

Video hearing rules

Everyone must follow the same rules as in a courtroom. This means:

  • only drink water
  • no eating
  • no smoking or e-cigarettes
  • only use your phone for contact with the video hearings officer
  • follow the judges instructions
  • ask the judges permission to move away from the screen

Your information

The video hearings service collects your name, email address, phone number and the information you provide in the online questionnaire. Well keep this information for 3 months after the date of your last hearing. Well then delete it.

Find out about what to expect from HMCTS when we hold or request personal information (personal data) about you.

Recording and transcript

The process for recording video hearings will be the same as for hearings held in a court building. Where hearings are recorded, you can apply for a transcript.

Participants must not record or take any images of the hearing.

Your feedback

This is a private beta service. This means a limited number of people are using it and providing feedback before its made more widely available. When using the service, please let us know about your experience by completing the survey at the end of the hearing.

Contact the video hearings team:

video-hearings@justice.gov.uk
Telephone: 0300 303 0655
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
Find out about call charges

Published 10 January 2020
Last updated 28 February 2020 +show all updates
  1. Firewall rules PDF updated.

  2. Copy of firewall rules updated.

  3. First published.

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