Nine out of ten legal representatives positive about remote hearings

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Users of remote court hearings during the Covid pandemic were generally positive about their experience, according to a report by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

Over 90% of legal representatives said remote hearings were an acceptable alternative to an in-person hearing during the pandemic, with 77% supportive of their continued use beyond the pandemic. Public users were also happy, with 56% saying remote hearings were an acceptable alternative both during and after the pandemic.

Most public users (63%) were satisfied with their overall experience, particularly those (67%) who joined by video rather than audio link.

Judges were broadly supportive. Around half thought remote hearings were effective at creating a comparable environment to in-person hearings (51%), but around four in ten (37%) thought they were ineffective. However, all professional groups observed a reduction in formality during remote hearings.

There were some concerns about technology. One in five public users experienced issues such as poor audio quality or being disconnected. Around half of judicial respondents (48%) and a quarter of legal representatives said they needed some technical support. Overall however, only a few public users reported having difficulties accessing the remote hearing platform.

There were also some concerns about wellbeing. Over half (58%) of judicial respondents said remote hearings impacted on their health and wellbeing, with greater fatigue and increased stress being the most common complaints.

HMCTS used multiple commercial video and audio conferencing platforms during the pandemic to meet demand; however it is continuing to develop its own video hearings platform. It intends the system will be able to replicate the formality and experience of a hearing in a court or tribunal building.
James Burgoyne of Brunel Professions said: “The overall positive response to remote court hearings means that it is likely that more hearings will be held this way in future. This is good news as it is likely to reduce pressure on an overburdened court service. It is very likely to reduce costs, which will be welcomed by professionals and their insurers faced with disputes and claims of negligence.”

HMCTS’ research report has been published on the government website. Reports about the study have been published by LPC Law, UKAuthority and Law Society Gazette.

Professionalindemnity.com is owned by Brunel Professions, which is a leading professional indemnity insurance broker in the UK. Click here to get a quote or call 0345 450 1074 to speak to a broker.

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