TIPS AND TRICKS

The Supreme Court of Victoria is changing the way it operates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

To ensure the Court can continue to deliver core and vital services during this time, it is introducing a suite of changes to its processes and procedures.

In a time where we must limit face-to-face interactions, the Court has introduced virtual hearings.

Virtual hearings are court hearings conducted by audio-visual means, where cases are progressed without the need for participants to attend the Court in person.

This list comprises the top 10 tips that the Court recommends practitioners adopt when participating in virtual hearings.

Top 10 tips for participating in virtual hearings

  1. Find a quiet and private location to observe and/or participate in the virtual hearing .  This will limit interference and distractions.
  2. Ensure that there is a sufficient internet connection for your device.  If your connection does not allow you to adequately participate in a virtual hearing, it may be acceptable for you to access the hearing via phone, depending on your role in the proceeding.
  3. If possible, use a headset with a working microphone, rather than the in-built microphone and speakers on your device.
  4. Always mute your microphone when not addressing the Court.
  5. If audio feedback occurs while you are addressing the Court, turn the volume of your device down in the first instance.  If feedback continues to be heard and is interfering with the conduct of the hearing, you should attempt to access the hearing using a different device.  
  6. Ensure all electronic materials are available to the Court:
    a. For appellate and civil matters, ensure that you have complied with all directions given by the Court regarding the provision of all relevant materials to be relied on in electronic form. 
    b. In criminal matters, if documents have not already been provided beforehand, please ensure electronic copies of any documents are available and can be provided to the Court as and when they are needed.  The Court should also be notified in advance of any requirements that may impact the hearing (e.g. videos, physical exhibits, specialised software). 
  7. Refrain from speaking over other participants as much as practical to accommodate the reduced social cues available, and to assist with the Court’s transcribing process.  If needed, the Court might ask participants to signal with a raised hand when intending to make an address.
  8. When commencing an address to the Court, identify yourself by name to assist with the preparation of an accurate transcript
  9. Minimise competing noises in the background, such as typing or coughing near a microphone or shuffling of papers.  These noises may interfere with the running of the hearing and impact the quality of the transcript.
  10. Test the technology and equipment ahead of the virtual hearing. The Court will facilitate this test with all parties and participants present. This test must be completed at the same location and using the same equipment (device and internet connection) that will be used at the hearing. It is also the responsibility of practitioners to raise connectivity issues / hardware issues of any witnesses with the Court, in the event that it impacts the running of a hearing. As witnesses are not included in the pre-hearing testing, practitioners are encouraged to make those enquiries as early as possible.

 

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Author
Supreme Court of Victoria
Publisher
Supreme Court of Victoria
Date of publication