Civil Procedure and COVID-19
The latest edition of Professor Stuart Sime’s comprehensive and standard textbook, A Practical Approach to Civil Procedure, has been updated to include a chapter on remote hearings and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sudden onset of the coronavirus emergency, with the courts and court users dealing with severe lockdown restrictions, required the swift implementation of arrangements to allow the courts to continue hearing important and urgent cases, and to prevent the build-up of a backlog of adjourned cases.
Professor Sime (who is also co-author of Blackstone’s Civil Practice), says the new chapter in the textbook’s 23rd edition, “brings together existing rules on using technology in the civil justice system, together with the emergency legislation, such as the Coronavirus Act 2020, secondary legislation and various protocols. It discusses the underlying legal requirements that continue to apply even under emergency conditions.”
“These requirements include the need to observe due process; the general requirement that hearings must be conducted in public; the requirement that hearings be recorded; and the continuing effect of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, including the prohibition on unauthorised recordings. Within these confines the civil courts have been remarkably flexible and open to the use of new technology, and the measures put in place may well affect the way courts operate well into the future.”
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