It’s from the Employment Tribunal who were first out of the blocks with updated guidance for Tribunal users in light of COVID-19 arrangements. They’ve issued a helpful list of FAQs, one of which deals with the practicalities of video hearings.

It states:

If you take part in a hearing using a video platform, please consider the following rules of etiquette:

• Identify, if possible, a quiet location from which to call;
• Ask any nearby family members or colleagues not to disturb you;
• Join the meeting without any discussion at the start and wait for the judge to
begin proceedings;
• Turn off your mobile phone (or switch it to silent);
• Place your mobile phone away from any connected speakers to limit audio
• Avoid sitting somewhere with a source of bright light behind you;
• Consider using a headset, if you have one, to avoid echoes, feedback etc;
• Mute your microphone when not speaking (and remember to unmute when
• If the facility is available to ‘blur’ your background, consider doing so;

• Do not enter ‘mirror screen’ or ‘share screen’ mode, or send a document or
attachment, without seeking the judge’s permission;
• Use a side panel (the instant messaging/chat facility), if available, to signify a
wish to speak; and
• Re-join on same invitation link if you are cut off.

Most important of all, do not record the hearing without permission. It is a criminal offence to do so.

These are all sensible recommendations. Having joined several remote hearings so far via videolink (on the Ministry of Justice’s Kinly Cloud system), I’ve experienced the disruption and delay that can result from participants failing to observe these rules.

So let’s give the guidance the publicity it deserves.

It would be of great assistance to all participants if these rules of etiquette were explained in the notice of hearing and/or any joining instructions that Courts and Tribunals send out to the parties. Lawyers can play their part by drawing everyone’s attention to the rules prior to the hearing and ensuring that their witnesses understand them fully.

Posted by Ben Amunwa

Founder and editor of Ben is a commercial and public law barrister with The 36 Group. He gives expert legal advice on employment, public law and commercial disputes to a wide range of clients.

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