It occurred to me, helping one of my social workers prepare for a video hearing today, how little information about what actually happens in a remote hearing is available to anyone not ‘in the know’ with the court.
So I thought I would add my thoughts, in the hope it might help some of you.
In advance of a hearing, whichever patty made the application will be asked to provide contact details for all the attendees to the hearing to the court. My area have created a form for this, I imagine others have too. In that form, we’re also asked to express a preference for a particular platform, but the decision is ultimately made the judge as to the platform used. But everyone will be told in advance what the judge has chosen.
You need to work out in advance who is attending though. Last minute changes to attendance are a nightmare to co-ordinate. Phoning in sick on the day of any hearing is bad etiquette, but especially for a remote hearing, arranging cover can be a nightmare.
If the hearing is going to take place by phone, chances are, it will be BT MeetMe. This is a fairly standard teleconferencing facility but the important thing to bear in mind is that this works on the basis of the court calling you, rather than you having a code to dial in. So you have to give the number you are going to have access to on the day.
So you sit by your phone at the scheduled time, but don’t panic if you don’t get a call at exactly the right time. How it works is the judge initiates the call when they are ready. So it isn’t uncommon for the judge to be a bit late because another matter they have been dealing with has run late.
When the call comes through, you answer, give your name and get connected to the hearing. It is really very simple. And form there, the hearing will run very similarly to the in person hearings I spoke about in my earlier post.
If the hearing is taking place using video conferencing then there are a few different platforms available. The court has CVP which is their specialist platform and is supposed to communicate with Teams and Skype for Business (although that didn’t work for me today). But you’ll be sent a link and joining instructions by the Court. Wisely, they give a slot for a test with a member of court staff prior to the hearing starting, so kinks can be worked out. And you just click the link, follow the instructions and off you.
Teams and Skype work in similar ways, you get a link and you click though.
During the hearing, everyone who isn’t speaking mutes their microphone to prevent feedback. If there are a few people one, you might find that you are asked to turn your video off too to preserve band width, and then you get to just watch and not be visible to others. Just like with an in person hearing, lawyers do most of the talking unless there is witness evidence being given.
The important thing to remember, at least if you, like me, have fully embraced freedom from the work dress code, that proper court attire is expected on a video call. So smart dress for practitioners, suits for lawyers.
On a phone hearing, of course, you can wear whatever you like.
I hope that helps demystify things a bit for you, but if you have any further questions about court processes or anything adult social care law related do please let me know via this site or the facebook page.
In case it isn’t obvious from the fact I still haven’t identified the authority I work for, the views expressed on this blog are my own opinion and not the opinion of that local authority