Tanfield Chambers remains open for business
27th March 2020
Tanfield’s Guidance on video proceedings and conferences
Tanfield Chambers is committed to delivering the same excellent service to all our clients whilst the current restrictions are in place. We have therefore implemented a series of measures designed to make instructing our members as easy as possible.
We can no longer host conferences in the building at Chambers, but our members are able to continue to deliver the same excellent advice to our clients by video and telephone conferencing facilities. To arrange a conference, please contact one of our team on the numbers, below.
Sending documents to us
So that we can help you as quickly and efficiently as possible we ask you to send all instructions and documents electronically to one of our Practice Managers. If the files are too large to send as attachments to an email, please let us know because we have the capability to accept large electronic transfers of documents by other means. If hard copies must to be sent to Chambers, please get in touch with one of our Practice Managers to arrange delivery to the relevant barrister.
Getting in touch
If you need to get in touch about a new or ongoing matter or to arrange a video conference, our practice team is available by email at email@example.com or direct dial:
- Alex Southern (Senior Practice Manager) +44 (0) 20 7421 5266 or +44 (0) 7944 209415
- Billy Forecast (Senior Practice Manager) +44 (0) 20 7421 5259 or +44 (0) 7538 493689
- Richard Powell (Senior Practice Manager) +44 (0) 20 7421 5264 or +44 (0) 7949 120908
- Eamonn Kelly (Chief Executive) +44 (0) 20 7421 5265 or +44 (0) 7949 121370
Court hearings are now taking place remotely as either video proceedings or audio proceedings. All members of Chambers have access to the apps and software necessary to take part in these hearings. Members have already conducted numerous hearings in the Court of Appeal, High Court and County Courts. The commonly used for video proceedings are (click the name to download):
Below we have summarised the guidance given by the Government, Judiciary and HM Courts and Tribunal Service on how court hearings will operate. As you will appreciate, this guidance is being constantly updated and you should check the links provided for the latest updates.
Coronavirus Act 2020
Parliament has now enacted the Coronavirus Act 2020, which makes temporary changes affecting landlords and tenants:
- No business leases may be forfeited by re-entry until 30 June 2020 (which may be extended);
- Landlord cannot waive the right to forfeit for non-payment of rent;
- Landlords must give 3 months’ notice to terminate all residential short leases;
- All possession proceedings have been stayed and no orders for possession may be enforced against commercial or residential premises until 30 June 2020 (which may be extended).
Please keep checking our website for more articles written by members of Chambers.
Summary of Government, Judiciary and Professional Bodies’ Guidance
Since the 13 March, HMCTS and the Ministry of Justice have provided guidance for court and tribunal users as the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated. This is being updated on a daily basis and can be viewed here.
On 27 March 2020, the Government announced the intention to consolidate the number of buildings being used for Courts and Tribunals because some hearings attended in-person are inevitable. Guidance can be viewed here.
In video proceedings, the court or tribunal will send you an email with a link to click and you can join the hearing – generally using HMCTS’ Skype for Business software – as a guest. Although there is no need to download the software to participate, doing so is recommended for enhanced functionality and to avoid your internet browser being incompatible.
The Ministry of Justice is in the process of extending the Justice Video Service in the criminal courts and its provision for audio hearings that already exist in the civil courts. As part of this, it is currently increasing the number of licences available for the use of the audio-conferencing system, BT Meet Me, and training staff in use of the system. Complete coverage of the court estate is expected by next week.
In addition to this, the Ministry of Justice has activated Skype for Business on all judicial laptops, allowing video proceedings to take place in more cases.
In accordance with a message from the Lord Chief Justice, the default position is that hearings should be conducted with one, more than one or all participants attending remotely. It was recognised that there will be issues with this initially, however moving to participation via technology will help lessen the backlogs on the court system. This has been overtaken by events and it is extremely unlikely that hearings will require any person’s attendance at the court building.
The guidance has emphasised that special regard must be had to litigants in person during this time, particularly if they are vulnerable and would struggle to access telephone hearings.
The County Court at Central London has adjourned all hearings that require the parties’ attendance in person. They are now being arranged as audio or video hearings.
In practice, generic directions have been given in almost every First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) claim in London suspending these applications until 29 May 2020. No hearings of any kind will take place until after then. The same applies to most Property Tribunal cases outside London and in many other kinds of Tribunals.
The Senior President of Tribunals issued a Pilot Practice Direction with regard to all applications and appeals in the FTT and Upper Tribunal. The guidance held that where a tribunal has the jurisdiction to make decisions on paper without a hearing, it should do so. However, it also created a ‘Triage’ scheme for appeals and applications, where determinations are possible on paper with the parties’ consent.
Where a tribunal decides that a hearing is necessary, it should be held remotely by way of either audio or video proceedings. Where a tribunal decides that a hearing will take place remotely, references in the Chamber’s procedure rules to a ‘hearing’ will apply to that remote hearing and references in the Chamber’s procedure rules to a party’s entitlement to attend a hearing shall be such participation as may be directed.
A Pilot Practice Direction regarding panel composition was also issued, setting out guidelines for how decisions could be made in the event that the Standard Composition Arrangements for a Tribunal could not be followed. In essence, video or audio proceedings may be determined by a single Tribunal Judge, as opposed to a panel of two or three.
The First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (Land Registration) has adjourned all hearings for the foreseeable future.
Family Courts and the Court of Protection
A detailed note on the process in Family Proceedings has been prepared by Chambers and can be viewed here.
The Lord Chancellor has also authorised that in certain cases the fee for an application to adjourn a civil hearing may be waived because of COVID-19. Applications will need to contain as much information as possible, however a medical certificate from a GP will not be necessary.
If you have any questions or would like further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
With best wishes,
The information on this page will be reviewed and regularly updated.