The evaluation assesses the user experience of the video hearings process between March 2019 and March 2020 and was concluded before the Covid-19 pandemic. The study was carried out by the London School of Economics. The study looked at party-to-party hearings and party-to-state hearings in civil, family and tax jurisdictions. It covers a small sample of cases studied in depth and contains a number of recommendations on participant guidance and service functionality.
HMCTS explains that it developed the service to replicate the formal experience of a hearing held in a court or tribunal building. Testing of the service is continuing at pace. It has been extended in the Tax Tribunals and other jurisdictions will follow.
In essence, the study shows that the experience of participants suggests that, at least for the types of hearing tested, video hearings can provide an appropriate alternative to physical hearings.
HMCTS says that work will continue to develop and test the video hearings service to provide a remote option where appropriate when participants cannot or do not need to attend a physical courtroom. Decisions about the use of video technology in hearings are for the judiciary to determine.
The use of remote hearings during the COVID-19 outbreak will be subject to separate evaluation, and the findings will be published once it is complete. To read HMCTS’s press release in full and for a link to the study, click here.