E-Trials & Virtual Courtrooms: A possible solution to Court Lockdown
Editor: Anastasios Tsanakas, Lawyer
Numerous Jurisdictions, including the Republic
of Cyprus have decided as part of their measures for the prevention of Covid 19
transmission, the suspension of Court operations. Nevertheless and for obvious
reasons there can be no universal lockdown to the administration of justice.
A possible solution to the imposed restrictions
that inhibit justice accessibility is the development and establishment of
In the UK, an entire trial is being conducted
over Skype in a legal first that lawyers say could be a model way to ensure
court business continues during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Judge, is asked to decide whether it is in
the best interests of a 70 years old man that suffered a major stroke in 2016
to have the clinically assisted nutrition and hydration he receives through a
tube, withdrawn. The patient’s daughter and GP disagree over his treatment and
the local clinical commissioning group has asked the court to determine the
course to take.
In the three-day hearing, the judge, lawyers,
11 witnesses, three experts and two journalists, joined the hearing online
through Skype for Business, which enables everyone to see and hear those taking
part, as well as allowing the hearing to be recorded. The judge decided that
the hearing should be conducted over Skype to enable it to proceed without
risking the health of any of the participants, some of whom are in vulnerable
groups or live with people who are.
At the end of the first day, the barrister
representing the man’s GP, stated: ‘It was very effective, and allowed for full and
fair participation by all parties, using a laptop from their home or office’.
And continued: ‘It’s a necessary step – it’s important for the rule of law to ensure the
courts continue to function during this crisis.’ In similar terms
the barrister representing the clinical commissioning group stated: ‘It could be
used as a model to keep the system going, keep justice accessible and to
alleviate the anxiety of parties who otherwise might have to wait a long time
for hearings to take place in court.’
Sharing the above view, the lord chief justice
said that both the civil and family courts could move to telephone and video
hearings. ‘Any legal impediments will be dealt with.’ On the
criminal courts, he said: ‘Particular problems are likely to be encountered
in both the magistrates’ courts and the Crown courts, to which careful thought
is being given.’
The ”e-trial” proposal seems to gain momentum
during the Covid-19 pandemic. Another case, this time a multi-party commercial
trial relating to over $500m, could be heard entirely online and streamed on
YouTube as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.
The ‘substantial multi-party litigation’ was
originally scheduled to last seven days in London’s commercial court and
numerous factual and foreign law expert witnesses were due to be called before
travel restrictions were imposed.
The case will now be heard remotely, with
preparations being made to allow barristers, solicitors and the judge to work
from home. The judge gave short shrift to the argument that there would likely
be insurmountable logistical and technical difficulties and concluded that the
court must adopt an ‘optimistic, rather than a pessimistic, attitude’.
In addition, he acknowledged the possibility
that technical issues may arise, and that counsel may contract the virus and be
unable to appear for a number of days. Nonetheless, he said that a remote
hearing should be arranged, and that these risks should be addressed if and
when they materialise.
Parties have agreed to set up a ‘virtual court
room’ in the form of a video conference in which participants can see and hear
each other. They are also organising ‘virtual Post-it notes’ and ‘virtual
break-out rooms’ to allow legal teams and clients to discuss the trial as it
proceeds. The trial will be recorded and streamed, potentially via YouTube, so
that journalists and members of the public can follow the proceedings.
The above cases illustrate that the approach in
favor of “e-trials” seems to become widely accepted especially where there can
be no solid estimation on the duration of the suspension of Court operations.
Of course, several technical problems will be faced but advanced technological
applications and the unparallel need for administration of justice dictate that
every effective alternative solution must be seriously taken into account. (photo:pixabay)
The European Investment Bank is seeking to recruit for its Directorate, Legal Directorate (JU) - Legal Department - Operations 2 (JU/OPS 2) -Outside Europe B Division (OEU-B) - at its headquarters in Luxembourg, a (Associate) Banking and Finance Lawyer. This is a full-time, temporary position, at grade 4/5. The term of this contract will be 2 years; as this is a temporary replacement assignment, no extension or conversion of the contract is foreseen. Panel interviews are anticipated for beginning of April 2021. The Outside Europe B Division (OEU-B) is currently dealing with the legal documentation and legal issues for projects in the following countries: Turkey, Central Asia, Balkans and Eastern Neighbours. The (Associate) Banking and Finance Lawyer, internally referred to as (Associate) Officer Legal Services, will assist the Head of Division, together with other legal advisers, in providing legal support to the operational directorates, carrying out work related to all tasks wi
The Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance of the University of Luxembourg is recruiting a Doctoral researcher (PhD student) in Law. A specialisation is foreseen in (European) Criminal Law and Criminal procedure. The doctoral researcher will be working within the Department of Law. The doctoral researcher is expected to contribute to research projects in the area of Criminal Law. Particular interest in Europeanization of Criminal Law with an interdisciplinary context would be an asset. The candidate’s main task will be to prepare a doctoral thesis in the field of European Criminal Law, under the supervision of Professor Stefan Braum. The thesis work will be undertaken at the University of Luxembourg but can also be part of a jointly-supervised with another university. Τ he doctoral researcher will contribute to the teaching of classes ranging from one to three hours per week, of small group teachings and tutorials. The candidate must have: Master’s degree in Law The linguistic sk
By Christina Poursanidou, Lawyer / Legal and Compliance Officer During 2019, the total number of fines imposed globally for violation of money laundering regulations was estimated to €370 million. Strangely enough, such fines did not worry bank CEOs and boards, which instead of improving their anti-money laundering (AML) procedures, keep on operating with insufficient due diligence standards, improper management of AML measures and poor transaction monitoring. The result? €600 million in AML monetary penalties within the first six months of 2020. Within the context of the European Union, during 2020 National Financial Supervisors have imposed heavy fines to a number of credit institutions, such as Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB , known as SEB (€125 million), Deutsche Bank (€13.5 million), Commerzbank (€41 million) and Swedbank (€320 Million). These money laundering cases involving high-profile EU financial institutions have highlighted that the EU’s approach to combatti