Senior judge gives reasons why court hearings may no longer be needed


A senior judge who specialises in business litigation has called for a "very careful evaluation" of when court hearings are "really" needed.

Sir Geoffrey Vos says new technology has provided "several available options" to traditional trials.

The judge, who heads the Chancery Division of the High Court, says there is "no reason" why lawyers cannot "log on" and make submissions online.

He has aired his thoughts at a debate about lawyers' use of new technology organised by The Foundation for Science and Technology, which is based in London.

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Sir Geoffrey, who said he was speaking in the context of "business" litigation, called for a "change of culture".

"We need to make a very careful evaluation of when we really need physical hearings with a judge, the parties and their lawyers, and the witnesses all in attendance in the same place at the same time," he said.

"There will, I am sure, always be the need for some real-time court hearings, but I think there are a number of technological options to reduce the occasions on which they are required in order to achieve justice.

"There is no reason why hearing participants cannot log on when they have the time to do so within a time window. They can make their submissions online. Questions can then be asked by the judge online and responded to online."

He added: "We can resolve many cases and some aspects of the more complex cases without paying for partners in law firms, assistant solicitors and barristers all to sit, sometimes for hours or days on end, listening to material they can pick up online in far less time."