Video Hearing Pilot

February 16, 2018

HM Courts and Tribunals Service has announced that it is to
run a pilot in which tax appeals will be heard in a ‘fully video courtroom’

The first hearings will take place in the Spring. HMCTS say
that this will enable people to save the time and money spent travelling to
court and waiting for their hearing. It will also make it easier for people
with health problems that can make it harder to attend a physical court

By testing and evaluating the pilot, HMCTS aim to explore
how video hearings might be used to improve access to justice and help cases
progress faster.

Video technology is already used in criminal courts to allow
some victims and witnesses to give evidence without having to come face to face
with the accused. This pilot is taking this concept a step further – with all
attendees, including the judge, participating in the hearing via video
technology. Making use of technology to hold video hearings for technical parts
of cases that mainly involve legal professionals and judges could save court
time and help cases to progress faster. 

Justice Minister Lucy Frazer, said:

‘We are spending £1 billion on transforming and modernising
the justice system. Video hearings have the potential to improve access to
justice and speed up cases. This pilot will provide important information –
together with an increasing body of evidence from other countries – to drive
innovation to make the wider system quicker, smarter, and much more

HMCTS are writing to potential participants to invite them
to take part in the pilot. The video hearings will take place over the
internet, with each participant logging in from a location of their choice,
using a webcam and, for the purposes of the pilot, the judge located in the

HMCTS state that they are working closely with the judiciary
to ensure the majesty of a physical courtroom will be upheld. The choice to use
this new type of hearing would always be made by the judge in the case. It will
be possible for private online conversations to be had before the hearing, and
the format and process of the hearing will be the same as in a usual courtroom.