History timeline shows us that the idea of conducting trials remotely has been relevant since time immemorial, or rather, from the incident called “The Black Assize”, one of which took place in Exeter in 1586 when 8 judges, 11 of 12 Jurors and several constables have died due to fever spreading from unsanitary jails via prisoners into dirty and overcrowded courtrooms.
The transformation of the Courts these days
Nowadays, pandemic makes physical meetings of any sort impermissible, so courtrooms are transforming to have virtual space where all parties meet simultaneously without spreading the disease. The UK Ministry of Justice conducted the country’s first-ever “video hearings” in the tax tribunal in 2018, but now all hearings in all jurisdictions should be conducted with participants attending remotely, so therefore for the first time in England and Wales:
- The Court of Protection began conducting a case via Skype video conferencing facility
- Civil and family courts are implementing telephone and video hearing
- HM Courts & Tribunals Service is also working on developing the availability of digital technology
- Further work is being done with regard to the criminal courts as it will be more difficult to transform criminal proceeding in both the magistrates and the Crown courts.
It all suggests that the industry is transforming rapidly due to the lockdown and will never be the same after the transformation is complete. So it well may be that in the very near future, technology will allow creating an immersive courtroom experience thus driving humanity even further away from reality.
Please share your thought on what do you think about the transformation?