As a result of COVID-19 the courts now heavily favour hearings conducted remotely via video call. However, inevitably, this introduces new complications when compared to having all parties sitting in the same court room. In the case of ASR Interiors Ltd v AWS Trading Ltd & Anor it is recorded that a witness started to give video evidence while driving his van.
The judge notes that the witness ‘appeared to be driving a van while dividing his attention between the road in front of him and the camera of a mobile device placed on the passenger seat’. The judge immediately stopped the hearing and directed the defendant to re-establish contact once he had stopped driving.
When the witness tried to give evidence a second time, it was from a busy office with distracting noise in the background. On the judge’s request, he found a quieter store room in the building, but he then had to disappear with the video link running while he ran back to the office to get his statement.
At this point, the judge said, counsel for the defendant ‘wisely accepted that the process was not turning out to be a successful one’ and opted to rely on the witness’s written statement only. The judge said this was ‘realistic’ but did not give the statement any weight.
Advice is that ‘At a bare minimum, when the time comes for the video link to be activated the witness should be in a room with all the case papers before him or her and with no distractions,' the judge said.
Published on 24/03/2022