• Ross Shepstone

New Zealand: Protocol for remote hearing

Updated: May 23, 2020

Chief justice Helen Winkelmann has issued a protocol for remote hearings in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.

The protocol addresses the setup of the participants virtual meeting room (VMR), how to initiate a test call, the protocols during the hearing and the attendance of observers from the public and the press.

The Court will have read all material and submissions before the hearing and so counsel are reminded of the desirability of focussed oral submissions.

I think that the protocol is extremely useful for the proper conduct of a remote Court hearing and the following parts of the protocol are particularly applicable to counsel and attorneys conducting online hearings in South Africa:

You should remain seated for the hearing.

You must connect at least 10 minutes before the hearing.  The Registrar will connect at this time.  The Judges will then enter the virtual hearing once the Registrar confirms that all parties are connected, with no audio-visual issues.

The virtual hearing will run as close to a hearing-in-person as possible but will be less interactive than a hearing-in-person

If you want to speak when another counsel is speaking, to add a point of clarification or to object in the manner you would in a face-to-face hearing, raise your hand toward the screen so that the presiding Judge can see that.  Of course, such interruptions should be kept to a minimum.

At the end of the virtual hearing, the Judges will first disconnect, then the Registrar will end the call.

Participants should remain alert to any deterioration in picture and sound quality and inform the Court immediately if this is impacting on their ability to participate fully in the hearing.

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