Her Majesty's Court Service approved supplier
BT Conferencing has been selected by the Her Majesty's Court Services (HMCS) as an approved supplier for the legal community to facilitate the arrangement of telephone hearings which can also help you eliminate the hassle and costs associated with travelling to a court hearing.
In April 2007, Practice Direction 23, which supplements Part 23 of the Civil Procedure Rules was updated to widen the use of telephone hearings. Telephone hearings are now expected to be the norm for the majority of the types of hearings lists below in the county court:
- Allocation and listing hearings
- Interim applications, case management conferences and pre-trial reviews with a time estimate of no more than one hour
- Any other application with prior consent of the court or at the request of the parties
Telephone Hearing Exclusions
Telephone hearings are excluded where:
- All of the parties are unrepresented.
- The hearing is of an application without notice to the other party.
- More than four parties wish to make representations at the hearing (for this purpose where two or more parties are represented by the same person they are treated as one party).
- The hearing could result in the final determination of the whole or part of the proceedings.
Telephone hearing exceptions:
- It must be made at least 7 days before the hearing or such shorter time as the court may permit.
- It may be made by letter.
Such applications will be determined by the court without the need of the parties to attend court for a hearing.
The usual application fee will apply.
HMCS Telephone hearing scheme
What is the HMCS telephone hearing scheme?
The telephone hearing scheme is a nation-wide rollout encompassing all HRMC (Her Majesty's Courts Service) county courts and law firms in England and Wales to convert face-to-face court hearings into telephone based hearings.
The HRMC telephone hearing scheme has been introduced as a result of the change in law, allowing for certain court hearings to take place as a telephone hearing.
Why the change in law?
Previously the legal community were only allowed to use the format of 'telephone hearings' if the legal parties applied to the courts for approval first.
The Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) had run a consultation and pilot programme to investigate if it would be beneficial to the legal community for telephone hearings to be used more widely for certain types of court hearings, removing the need to apply to use audio conferencing to conduct a court hearing.
The results from the research conducted highlighted that by increasing the use of telephone hearings court users benefited by
- removing the need for time spent waiting at court for hearings.
- reduction in travel through the reduced need to attend court in person.
- courts benefiting from a more efficient use of both judicial and accommodation resources.
The research also showed that audio conferencing has been universally welcomed by law firms for court hearings, meetings and presentations which resulted in a change to The Access to Justice Act.
Therefore from 1st April 2006, the Access to Justice Act 1999 was updated and now stipulates that audio conferencing (also referred to as telephone hearings) MUST be used for certain types of legal case hearings, instead of a face-to-face meeting at court.
Links to further information about the new telephone hearing guidelines: