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Guidance issued on remote hearings and bundles in Business and Property Courts

The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary has issued guidance on practical measures that will – with the authorisation and approval of the Chancellor of the High Court and the Judges in Charge of the Commercial Court and the Technology and Construction Courts – remain in place until further notice, to assist the courts of the Business and Property Courts “to deal with their business as efficiently as possible”.

The guidance, which was issued on 15 September 2021 and can be viewed here, says:

Mode of hearing

  • While the mode of hearing is ultimately a judicial decision, the default position for all hearings under half a day will be for such hearings to take place remotely. The Court will consider a live hearing in such cases only if there is a particular reason why an in person hearing is more appropriate. Such hearings include:
    – The Chancery Division’s Applications Court
    – The Commercial Court and Technology and Construction Court’s Friday applications lists
    – Adjudication enforcement in the Technology and Construction Court.
  • The approach in relation to longer application hearings and trials will be a matter for decision by a judge on the facts of each case.
    – Parties will be asked by the Listing Office to express a preference (supported by reasons), with the final decision as to the appropriate mode of hearing being referred to a judge.
    – The decision on whether to make any such direction will always be a discretionary judicial decision. The overall criterion must be the interests of justice in all the circumstances of the case. This criterion will produce a range of different answers in different cases.
    – Remote and hybrid hearings may cover a full menu of options, from proceedings that are fully remote and accessible live to anyone who is in possession of a link, down to proceedings to which remote access is afforded to a single participant, everyone else being in court.

Bundles

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  • For the foreseeable future the default format for bundles will be electronic bundles. Hard copy bundles should not be lodged unless they have been requested by the judge hearing the case.
    – Parties are reminded of the guidance online (PDF, opens in a new tab). This document sets out the Court’s requirements as to default view, resolution and page numbering.
    – Parties are particularly reminded that text on all pages must be selectable to facilitate comments and highlights to be imposed on the text by the judge.

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