With the restrictions in place regarding social distancing, hearings are now largely taking place through video technology or over the phone. Below are some tips on how to make this process easier for everyone involved, as well as some guidance around the rules for regular hearings which still must be followed during video and telephone proceedings.

 

Deciding which hearings will take place:

 

The courts or tribunal will decide which hearings will take place over the phone or via video.

 

Both phone and video hearings are free of charge.

 

The Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) will contact you by post or email to:

 

  • let you know if your hearing will take place by video or phone
  • confirm the time and date of the hearing
  • ask for your preferred phone number or email
  • ask if you need any support to join the hearing

Deciding how the hearing will take place:

 

The judge or magistrates will decide on the method for the hearing. Hearings will only take place by video or phone if they’re satisfied it’s in the interests of justice for everyone involved.

 

To make the decision, they will consider:

 

  • the details of the case
  • the type of hearing, and how complex it may be
  • information you’ve given to the court that may affect you taking part in a phone or video hearing

Some tips on how to prepare:

 

Firstly, make sure you are in a quiet environment where you will not be disturbed. Tell people you live with that you need an area to yourself for the duration of the hearing.

 

If you have children it could be a good idea to have a trusted family member or close friend watch them for the duration of the hearing.

 

If you are taking part in a hearing with a legal representative, agree in advance how you will communicate confidentially during the hearing.

 

If you need to have someone with you who is not a legal representative, you must ask the court’s permission.

 

Phone hearing:

 

If you are taking part in a hearing over the phone, make sure the device you will be using is fully charged so that you are not cut off in the middle of it. It is also a good idea to test the device beforehand to make sure it is working correctly.

 

Video hearing:

 

If your hearing is conducted via video, with a laptop set your screen at 90 degrees to the keyboard so your face can be seen properly. Also, make sure your face is not in the shadow and you can be clearly seen and identified. Try to make the background as blank as possible, for example sitting in front of a plain wall in your house is ideal.

 

Rules of the courtroom still stand:

 

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

 

  • only drink water
  • no eating
  • no smoking or e-cigarettes
  • follow the court or tribunal’s instructions

 

Also, it is a criminal offence to record or publish any court hearing without authorisation.

 

So be certain nobody is recording with or without your permission. It is better to be in a room which is secure. Where possible, sit so that your screen is not visible to anyone else.

 

Support:

 

If you need an interpreter or other support to join the hearing, you should notify the HMCTS using the contact details in your hearing notice.

 

If you cannot join the hearing:

 

Again, let the HMCTS know by using the contact details on your hearing notice. The court will decide whether the hearing may:

 

  • go ahead without you
  • be scheduled for a later date

 

If you do not join the hearing, the case could proceed in your absence.

 

If you need any advice you can always call Lisa’s Law on 020 7928 0276 or email in to info@lisaslaw.co.uk. We are always here to help.

 

Joining by CVP, Skype or BT Meet Me:

 

Your hearing notice will state if your hearing will take place by phone or video and whether it will be by CVP, Skype or BT MeetMe.

 

It will also tell you the time and date of your hearing.

 

How to join by BT meet me phone call:

 

HMCTS will call you from an unknown number at the time of the hearing. If you use call barring services, turn them off so they can reach you.

 

When they call you, you’ll hear a welcome message saying you are invited to join a conference call.

 

To join:

 

 

  • press ‘*’ (star) key and number one to join
  • say your name
  • press the ‘#’ (hash) key
  • once you’re in the hearing, stay on mute until you’re asked to speak

 

At the start of the hearing, a member of staff will introduce themselves and explain how the hearing will work and what you need to do.

 

How to join by Cloud Video Platform (CVP):

 

Once the HMCTS have received your preferred contact details you will receive an email with a website link and sign in details. Check your spam folder if you have not received it.

 

To join the video hearing:

 

 

  • Download Google Chrome as this is the preferred browser
  • copy the link into Google Chrome and click ‘enter’
  • type in your full name, click the camera icon to connect with audio and video, then click ‘connect’
  • select default microphone and camera options then click ‘start’
  • enter the PIN given in the email invitation and click ‘connect’
  • when you join you’ll be in the waiting area until the hearing starts.

 

At the start of the hearing, a member of staff will introduce themselves and explain how the hearing will work and what you need to do.

 

How to join by Skype for Business:

 

Once you’ve told HMCTS your preferred contact details you will receive an email with a web link to join the hearing. Check your spam folder if you have not received it.

 

To join the video hearing:

 

 

  • Download Skype for Business software on the device you will use to join the hearing. Check this step by step guide on how to download it
  • click on the Skype for Business link in your email
  • join as a guest and when asked, type in your full name
  • wait in the Skype lobby until the chairperson invites you into the hearing
  • stay on mute with your video off until you are asked to speak or turn the video on

 

At the start of the hearing, a member of staff will introduce themselves and explain how the hearing will work and what you need to do.

 

After the hearing:

 

The judge or the person in charge of the proceedings will:

 

  • check they have dealt with all the issues raised
  • tell you when you can expect a decision
  • confirm the hearing is finished and tell you when you may leave the call

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.

 

Need more advice? Contact us!

 

We understand how stressful these meetings can be, and it is our job to make you feel as comfortable and prepared as possible.

 

We are operating as usual, and you can reach us on 020 7928 0276 or email in to info@lisaslaw.co.uk.

 

Or, why not download our free app today? You can launch a new enquiry, scan over documents and much more.

 

If you have an iPhone, follow this link to download.

 

If you use an Android phone, follow this link to download. 

 

Find the link here if you need some further instructions on how to use our new app!

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