Contested Personal Injuries Actions to be heard remotely by the High Court in light of latest Level 5 restrictions
The President of the High Court, Ms. Mary Irvine has confirmed that the Courts will facilitate the listing of personal injury cases for remote hearing from the 2nd February 2021 provided all parties agree.
This is a welcome development in circumstances where the Covid-19 pandemic has caused major delays in Court lists resulting in an ever-increasing backlog of cases. To date, the Courts Service and the legal profession have been working together to deliver remote hearings where possible depending on the nature of the matter. However, it has not been possible for remote hearings to proceed where the cross-examination of witnesses is required as is the norm in civil proceedings such as personal injury claims.
The practical implications of remote hearing for legal practitioners on all sides means that court booklets will need to be submitted a week in advance of the trial date. Indeed, every firm involved in such cases will need to ensure their IT systems can engage with the necessary technology required to make remote hearings possible. Greater collaboration with the court Registrar will also be required in advance of the trial so that any potential logistical hurdles may be overcome before the trial of the action.
Although this change of approach may appear burdensome from the outset for legal practitioners and indeed, it is clear greater organisation will be needed for remote hearings to be a success, the facility may have an important benefit by providing an incentive for all parties involved to engage more rigorously than previously in negotiations in an effort to resolve the matter and avoid the need for a remote hearing. Certainly, we welcome the development given our huge investment to date in IT systems and software which puts us in a perfect position to deal with remote hearings in these times.
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted Irish Society in every aspect including the administration of justice. Legal practitioners and the Courts Service will be hopeful that remotely heard personal injury claims will allow for the continued operation of the Courts throughout the rest of the pandemic. Depending on the success of the remote facility, it may also open up new possibilities for the Courts Service in facilitating Personal Injury claims into the future.
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