Court of Protection conducts its first trial via Skype

20 March 2020

The Court of Protection is conducting its first ever trial completely via Skype. If successful this could be a model for how the Court of Protection and other courts could continue to operate through this global health pandemic and potentially in the future.

The case will be held entirely via Skype for Business and last for three days with the Judge, lawyers, eleven witnesses, three experts and two journalists joining from their own homes or offices. In a time of advised self-isolation for the vulnerable and encouraged home working and social distancing for all, it enables the case to continue whilst protecting those people and their families, some of whom are in 'at risk' groups or live with those that are.

Court of Protection Judge Mr Justice Mostyn is being asked to decide whether a man in his seventies who suffered a stroke in 2016 should have his clinically assisted nutrition and hydration received through a tube withdrawn. The case was issued by the local commissioning group amidst disagreement between the man’s daughter and GP.

The Gazette reported that John McKendrick QC a barrister for the man's GP reported to them that 'it was very effective, and allowed for full and fair participation by all parties, using a laptop from their home or office'.

If successful, it is likely that this move by the Court of Protection to conduct a trial by video will be repeated in that court and across the civil and family courts. This will enable continuing access to justice throughout the crisis and beyond. Undoubtedly virtual trials would be a more eco-friendly option reducing the number of people making the journey to court and decreasing associated expenses.

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The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at March 2020.