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Virtual courts – the rules of engagement
Pic: Shutterstock

15 Feb 2021 / courts Print

Virtual courts – the rules of engagement

Practitioners have been asked to note that the Courts Service has initiated a pilot virtual hearing programme.

To ensure the optimum experience, the following guidance will apply:

No image capture

1. Please treat the virtual courtroom as a bricks and mortar courtroom.The rules that apply in court, such as no recording or image capture, still apply in a virtual court unless the judge gives an individual explicit permission for them to be waived.

2. The registrar will forward the virtual courtroom connection details to the legal representatives in individual cases. These details will change for each virtual courtroom.

3. Connection details are not to be forwarded to anyone without permission of the presiding judge. Where parties to cases wish to attend a virtual court, their legal representative should contact the registrar/court office with this request. With the approval of the judge, connection details can then be forwarded. Parties who intend to connect to the court should supply their names and these need to be forwarded to the registrar so they can be identifiable during court proceedings. Parties must provide an undertaking not to disclose the access details to that specific court and abide by the normal rules of court (no recordings or taking of pictures). They must be on mute with their camera turned off during court proceedings. They must not connect by phone call.

4. Allow time to access the virtual court (30 minutes in advance) so that participants are already in the virtual courtroom by the court start-time. Once virtual court is accessed, mute sound by using the mute button.

5. Oaths and affirmations: a witness wishing to take an oath on a bible or other sacred text, must have this text with them during the virtual hearing. Before taking the oath the witness will be asked to hold this text up to ensure it can be seen by the court. The oath or affirmation will have the same legal effect as it would when taken in a physical courtroom.

6. The name of participants will be displayed with their video image – usually this is what is entered on joining the virtual courtroom, but it is dependent upon the method used to join.

7. Please use mute button if not addressing the court.

8. Ensure that  virtual court room is joined with your camera and microphone enabled from a quiet room, with appropriate lighting so the face can be clearly seen.

9. The Pexip video meeting room (VMR) solution runs on tablets, PCs and mobile phones. Signal strength will determine the quality of  participation. However if there is an issue with the quality of the signal, participants may be asked to switch off the camera so that the court can hear more clearly. Tablets and laptops to be used where possible in preference to mobile phones to optimise sound quality.

10. Please check for details of the minimum system specifications required to access, and read the general tips for improving video conferencing experience.

Connection

The virtual courtroom is provisioned to facilitate connection from a laptop or PC using an array of internet browsers including Chrome, Safari and Firefox (camera and microphone required).

The virtual courtroom also supports connection from traditional video conferencing endpoints, Skype for Business and an assortment of available video technologies.

Connection is also available from smartphones and tablets using the dedicated Pexip App.

 

 

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