b'12 Local Government LawyerPractitioners views onthe to-ing and fro-ing between the parties.were flannelling.At the outset of Covid the court expected the* The employment team at Lewis Silkin has Virtual Courts local authority to just suddenly produce andnoted the backlogs and problems in the ET organise remote hearings and that was veryservice, adding: In the short term at least, stressful. Its bit better now but receptionit is likely that ETs will try to list as many can be patchy and Judges or parties drop outcases as possible for a video hearing. ETs are of the hearing. I dont find remote hearingsgoing to expect the parties to cooperate with spontaneous enough and interaction iseach other and find ways around practical difficultas taking the instructions fromproblems.the client department is not achievable. Weve tried emailing each other during theHealth, Social Care and Parliamentaryhearing but this is distracting and still not* The Parliamentary and Healthcare Services spontaneous enough. I think remote hearingsOmbudsman looks likely to use Skype could remain for agreed matters. The courtand other electronic connections more in need to savvy up on technology especiallythe future. It is refurbishing its IT stock, around electronic bundles. Ive had one hybridaccording to Ombudsman Rob Behrens. hearing as well with the Court of Protection.There will be more flexible and home-The family attended and the advocates wereworking for its staff in the future, he told the on conference call. It was a weird experienceAdministrative Justice Council. and I think these would need to be done on a case by case basis.Housing * A lawyer dealing with Mental health and the* A lawyer involved in a possession hearing Court of Protection says the hearing workedby telephone says: It was difficult due to well mostly once everyone got up to speedquality of call and there being a litigant in with the various platforms. person. Effectiveness depends on the type of case and paperwork and whether there is Crime a litigant in person on the other side. * A lawyer with a watching brief on some Child and Adult Care criminal proceedings says they ran very well,Licensing* Referring to the Court of Protection, oneefficiently and effectively. * A lawyer involved in a Licensing Committee lawyer speaks of a very inconsistent approachand Magistrates Court says it was a good with additional pressure on local authoritiesEducation Law experience generally, and should continue to fund the cost of hearing despite [there* A local government lawyer involved inuntil the backlog is resolved and perhaps being] court fees for this purpose.Education Appeals conducted via Microsoftbeyond.* Another says Court of Protection hearingsTeams says: I have been very impressed at* Another says Licensing Committee and via telephone and video would be usefulhow these have worked and been organised,Licensing Board meetings both went very especially for directions hearings to save onalbeit it took a number of weeks for this to bewell.expense and time.arranged.* A Head of Legal says: safeguarding cases* A lawyer involved in a case before the FirstPlanningshould not continue [to be heard in virtualTier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and* Planning barrister Harriet Townsend says: courts] after lockdown due to lack ofDisability) says the remote hearing was aPlanning cases in the High Court rarely resources of members of the public. positive, inclusive experience and should ininvolve cross examination, and are well suited * A lawyer involved in a Directions hearingmy opinion continue. to being dealt with remotely where both sides at the Court of Protection says that remoteare represented.hearings save travel time particularly whereEmployment * A full days hearing for a High Court Planning working from home. * A local government lawyer says of anAppeal was, says one lawyer, very successful * A childcare lawyer involved in directionsemployment tribunal that there was a Reallyand should be possible to continue into the hearings and trials using MS Teams says theypoor level of notification from Tribunal as tofutureshould be available for administrative hearingswhen full hearing would be postponed. No post lockdown because they have been fineclear Health and safety information providedPropertyeven if very occasionally someone has lostin good time. * Regarding a Property Tribunal, a local connection but has been able to join by* Another lawyer says of an Employmentgovernment lawyer says: The experience phone.Tribunal [ET] final hearing via CVP (Cloudwas largely positive except for problems with *Another lawyer says that telephoneVideo Platform): Sound and connectivitycommunicating urgently with Counsel both hearings have worked better than video duewere issues, although generally thebefore and during the hearing.to technical issues.proceedings went smoothly. I do not think * Another says: I find remote hearings verycross-examination was effective as it was verySource: Local Government Lawyer/LexisNexis Life labour intensive as they seem to take updifficult to properly read facial expressionsafter Lockdown survey unless otherwise stated.time in the days before the hearing to discussand body language, and hard for the issues with the client department and thenadvocates to interrupt witnesses when they'