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Theatre and majesty of live court gets lost in online hearings
Sir Geoffrey Vos

08 Dec 2020 / courts Print

Theatre and majesty of live court gets lost online

A Harvard Law School webinar has heard from the England and Wales Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Vos, that the administration of justice will continue to move online in the post-pandemic era, because of the volume of litigation.

The law, he says, is about dispute resolution in civil matters, and parties should focus on this rather than on the procedural steps to be followed.

Pace of change

Civil-procedure rules should be simplified and become more general, he continued, with the goal of effective dispute resolution. 

Ireland’s review of civil justice procedures was published yesterday, under the aegis of Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

Professor Richard Susskind told the Harvard webinar that the pace of change in the courts in recent months challenges the idea that the legal profession is slow to innovate. 

Not having your day in court

Professor Kathleen Sullivan told the webinar that remote hearings offer efficiency and coherence, but lose some of the theatre, live, in-court proceedings.

The majestic and dignified setting of a court is often highly-valued by litigants as an opportunity to present their case directly to the bench, she said.

The lack of opportunity for spontaneous interaction between bench and bar is another key drawback of online hearings, the former professor at Harvard and Stanford law schools continued.

Such improvisation can have a bearing on outcomes, she noted.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland