Video link evidence in court is likely to become more common, even in civil claims. The facilities of the different courts in the country vary widely. Some old court buildings are crumbling and indeed a great number have been closed in the past few years.
Some of the new buildings are state of the art and have been built at great cost. The technology in the courts is also developing.
We have never seen video link evidence given in a small claim but it is a more likely possibility in the future. It is more commonly used in criminal courts, to avoid a witness having to come face to face with the accused or to be put in the stressful situation of giving evidence in open court. In particular, it is used when children or vulnerable victims of the crime have to give evidence. In the criminal courts however, it may also be the defendants giving evidence by video link for example if there is some good reason why they cannot attend court.
A recent article in the Law Society Gazette made reference to a survey being carried out by a former magistrate about how video link hearings affect those involved. The survey suggests those who are unrepresented or struggle with English, are those who suffer from them, as they are not as able to understand and participate.
Technology will continue to play a crucial role in the courts. There is still the proposal of the online court for civil claims which we will keep you up to date with as details emerge.