Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, online Hearings in family proceedings became the default position. As social distancing and safety restrictions relaxed, more Hearings started taking place face-to-face in Court buildings again, but there’s no doubt that remote Hearings are here to stay as well as the traditional ‘in person’ model.
Some people much prefer the more relaxed environment of being away from the Court building, but remote Hearings can bring different challenges. Here are our top tips to be as well prepared as possible for your online Hearing:
1. Think about where you will be
Whether a Hearing takes place in a Court building or online, it is still an important event in your case. You need to make sure you can be at your best to understand and hear everything that’s happening. Even if the Hearing is not in a Court building, strict rules of privacy still apply, and you will be asked to confirm at the start of the hearing that you are somewhere private, where you can’t be overheard by others.
You should be somewhere quiet where you won’t be interrupted and if you have children, you need to be especially careful they cannot hear anything that is going on.
Some Court Hearings are straightforward, but it is not unusual to be daunted by them, especially if your Hearing is significant, for example where you might need to give evidence. If you don’t have somewhere suitable to attend the Hearing, or you are anxious about not being with your legal team, speak with your Solicitor because it might be possible for you to attend the Hearing from their office.
2. Practise your set-up
Think ahead about what device you will use to join the Hearing, and practise how you will have it balanced on the day. Some Hearings are short, but others can last all day (or many days!). Make sure:
- You can sit comfortably in front of your device
- Your device is at a height you can see the screen
- Your camera is at the right height
- It’s close enough for your microphone to work if you need to speak
- Your device is fully charged in case you’re left waiting or the Hearing takes longer than you expect
- You have a plug or power-pack on hand, just in case
If you aren’t someone who is used to video call facilities, ask your Solicitor for any guidance you need on how to connect on the day. If you would feel more comfortable doing a ‘trial run’ in joining an online link, just let them know.