By DebbieH 16 Feb 2018 7 min read

The courts step into the digital age with video hearings

Video courtrooms are being tested with members of the public for the first time. The Ministry of Justice has announced that some tax appeals will be heard via video link this spring.

This is part of a £1bn investment in the modernisation of the court service. It is designed to save people time and money which would otherwise be spent travelling to court. It is also intended to make it easier for those with health issues that might make getting to court difficult.

Justice Minister, Lucy Frazer, said: “We are spending £1 billion on transforming and modernising the justice system. Video hearings have the potential to improve access to justice and speed up cases. This pilot will provide important information – together with an increasing body of evidence from other countries – to drive innovation to make the wider system quicker, smarter, and much more user-friendly.”

HMCTS are currently sending out invitations to those eligible to participate in the pilot. The hearings will be held via the internet and using a webcam. Participants will be able to log in from wherever they choose while the judge will remain in the court room.

Similar technology is already being used in certain cases to avoid bringing victims or witnesses into direct contact with the accused. Other recent court reforms which aim to make access to justice easier and more efficient include an online divorce application service and a similar programme for online tax appeals. The latter has resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of applications that are returned for being inaccurate or incomplete.