All participants in tax-appeal hearings to take part remotely during trial scheme
HM Courts and Tribunals Service is to trial the use of the UK’s first “fully video courtroom” for use by the public.
The pilot scheme, which will be used for tax-appeal hearings, will take place this spring, HMCTS said. It will see everyone involved in the hearings – including judges, legal teams on both sides, and appellants – taking part via video.
The courts service said that allowing the technical aspects of cases, which typically involve only lawyers and judges, to be addressed by video could speed up the entire process for everyone.
Those taking part in the pilot will be able to use an internet-connected device and a webcam to log in from a location of their choosing. During the pilot phase, judges will remain in a courtroom.
HMCTS has written to possible participants to ask if they would be interested in taking part in the pilot. The final decision of whether to use a video hearing for a case will always lie with the judge.
Justice minister Lucy Frazer, said: “We are spending £1bn on transforming and modernising the justice system. Video hearings have the potential to improve access to justice and speed up cases. This pilot will provide important information – together with an increasing body of evidence from other countries – to drive innovation to make the wider system quicker, smarter, and much more user-friendly.”
Other initiatives undertaken as part of the courts service’s £1bn digitisation
programme include the launch of online divorce
applications, and a digital system for sentencing
fare dodgers in London.