Preparing for a Remote Court Hearing

The prospect of attending court is often a daunting one, and attending remotely perhaps more so as you may not have the support of your legal team in person. This article is a simple guide for how to attend a remote court hearings, to make the experience as smooth as possible.

The first thing to remember when you attend a remote court hearing, is that you should treat the hearing as though you were attending a court building in person. You shoudl dress smartly and behave appropriately during the remote hearing. Family court hearings in England and Wales are held in private. It is therefore important that only you and any authorised person are in the room during the hearing. Authorised persons usually means the court, the parties, and legal representatives. You may need to warn other members of your household that you will be attending a court hearing. You should tell them that you cannot be interrupted. If you are interrupted, which is sometimes unavoidable, you should let the court and your legal team know so that proceedings can be paused to allow to you deal with the disruption.

You may be living in the same household as the other party to court proceedings. If you are, it is even more important that you find a private space. Alert your legal team if this becomes an issue during the hearing.

Tips for the Remote Hearing

Try to ensure that there is as little distraction as possible during the remote court hearing. Some things you may consider are:
– Turn your phone off, if it is not being used for the hearing itself;
– Ensure that there is as little background noise as possible;
– Try to have as plain a background as possible, if the hearing is through video conferencing;
– Ensure that the device you are using has full charge and good connectivity.
You should try to familiarise yourself with how you will be joining the hearing. You will receive a call from the court or a conference provider if the hearing is by telephone. You will be emailed with the video link if it is a video hearing.

During the Remote Court Hearing

You should not record the hearing, as it can be a criminal offence to do so. You will need to keep your video on, and ensure that your full face can be seen, for the entirety of the hearing unless you are informed otherwise by the court. It is good practice to ensure that your microphone is kept muted unless you are invited to speak by the court. It can be helpful to have a separate device such as a tablet to view the electronic bundle on.

Don’t worry about technical issues that arise; these can happen to anyone. If they do occur, you should alert the court and your legal team as soon as possible so that you can re-join the call.

You may wish to watch our Video Guide to remote court hearings.

Mr Justice McDonald’s detailed guide to remote court hearings sets out full details of the technical requirements for remote court hearings. This includes the preparation of PDF bundles, contacting the court and protocols. Please note that this guide is subject to regular updates.

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