Judges worried about unauthorised broadcasting of virtual sittings and loss of the “gravitas” of court from hearings held online

Judges were worried about people recording virtual hearings and broadcasting the contents elsewhere, according to Courts Service research on remote sittings.

Issues were also raised about the loss of the “gravitas” of the courtroom, difficulties in presenting and viewing documents, and the ability to remove disruptive parties from a virtual sitting.

Also flagged were the presence of unauthorised people at court hearings, the ability to see at all times who was present, and an option to mute or disable sound from a person taking part in a remote sitting.

The research also said the ability to display documents live would be a key component of any long-term solution for virtual court sittings.

Key requirements also included clear guidelines on using documents in virtual sittings, the ability for only the judge to see them, or allowing access to multiple parties when needed.

Feedback from specific groups was also gathered including judges who raised concerned over “broadcasting and inappropriate usage” of proceedings from court sittings.