HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) have announced the roll out of their Cloud Video Platform to include family courts, to enable all courts in England and Wales to deliver secure and remote hearings. The roll out will take place over the next three months.
Following concerns over the security of some video platforms, confusion over which platform to use and which party would be responsible for organising the video hearings, it is perhaps unsurprising that with a 90% increase in remote hearings across the criminal, civil and family courts that HMCTS have identified the need for the roll out of a uniform approach.
The news will provide some clarity around the way remote hearings will be conducted. In these unprecedented times, the use of video in our working lives has become commonplace, and court hearings are no different. After an initial confusion over the way hearings would be conducted, a number of cases have been able to proceed using video and telephone hearings. The roll out is said to provide even great capacity for more hearings to go ahead.
As well as court hearings, I have also used video meetings with new clients, existing clients, for virtual coffees, collaborative and team meetings. Prior to the pandemic, like many, I had fears over the use of video and whether it could really find a place in the world of providing family advice. I have however been impressed by the seamless service we can deliver, the rapport you can build and the general ability to provide secure advice with thanks to the vast array of technology available.
You certainly cannot replace a good old face to face, but this news cements the reality we have all felt over the last three months - that whilst times are changing and a bit strange, we can work from home, we can continue to support individuals and deliver client service and I think it has forced me, like many lawyers and seemingly the legal system to move forward with the times and the way we deliver advice. It is great that the courts will now also be able to deliver a uniform service for those hearings that cannot proceed in person.