The impact of the pandemic on the Justice System

The last 18 months have been consumed by all matters COVID, which have had a particularly significant impact on the manner in which we all now carry out our work, whether it be companies adopting a hybrid approach or some just implementing a fully-remote model. Employees are now getting their well-deserved work life balance, including those in the legal profession.

 

In 2015, some courts including the High Court and Commercial Court, began using an electronic working system known as CE-File, allowing parties to issue claims, make applications, file documents or communicate with the Court through an online portal. This was quite a significant change for the Courts who previously required and worked using only paper files. Over the years more and more courts have followed suit making it easier for parties to communicate with the courts.

 

During the pandemic, the legal profession and court system have now learnt to adapt their archaic methods of working and have been forced to hear court cases virtually. Courts across England and Wales have been conducting their hearings remotely (via Skype, Microsoft Teams or telephone) in order to keep cases flowing through the Courts and to avoid any unnecessary delays. Whilst this has been and is still, a period of adjustment, the Courts and Counsel seem to be dealing with the cases expeditiously. Not only are cases being dealt with quickly, but parties are saving on time and costs as they are not required to travel to the Courts or waste time waiting for the hearing to begin. In many instances, parties also have access to a real-time transcription so not only can they see the transcript during the hearing but they can also make notes and comments on their own digital version which can assist when arguing their case.

 

Virtual hearings are conducted in the same manner and with the same degree of professionalism as face-to-face hearings so parties must ensure that the Court, and all relevant parties, have all documentation prior to the hearing. Parties should also ensure that their sound and video (if required) is working prior to the hearing to avoid any delays.

 

As the pandemic eases, cases are slowly returning to being heard in Court where necessary, however this may not be required for all cases. Hundreds of hearings and arbitrations have been conducted successfully during this time, so what may have been seen as a ‘never going to happen’, is now becoming the new norm.

 

A virtual hearing should not be a cause for concern and rest assured the team at Meaby have been efficiently dealing with many virtual hearings during this time, however if you would like any further advice or guidance then please do not hesitate to contact the litigation team at litigation@meaby.co.uk for more information.