As funding for the Court Service has been cut back, many people find themselves having to travel further and further to attend Court. In Cornwall the only Courts are now in Bodmin and Truro and this can mean a significant journey for people to attend hearings.
The Court Service has recently quietly completed a landmark stage in the progression towards video hearings and the digital future. It has been reported that the first hearings featuring two remote litigants was held in March at the Manchester Civil Justice Centre. The Court Service is running a year long pilot of video hearings for fairly simple Court appearances thus avoiding the need for people to attend in person. It seems highly likely that this is how things will develop for the future, but there may be no substitute for hearings in person in more serious cases and full blown trials. There is nothing like “seeing the whites of somebody’s eyes” if they are giving evidence to try to establish if they are actually telling the truth and to be able to test them in cross examination.
Technology is a wonderful thing and no doubt Court hearings and meetings can be conducted in this way and will be ever more so as time goes on. There are some incidences, however, where meeting somebody face to face is always going to be better.