It was the Irish singer Ronan Keating who coined the line: ‘You say it best, when you say nothing at all.’ Ellie Cumbo, the Law Society's head of public law made that point rather well in an appearance before the justice select committee this week.
The committee met virtually, with MPs beaming in from their homes (Obiter liked John Howell’s book-laden study but was less impressed with James Daly’s bare white walls) to grill an assortment of invited witnesses.
Cumbo was clearly having connection issues from the start, as her cut-short introduction demonstrated, but was dealing with the problem brilliantly just as the conversation got interesting.
MPs had finally got round to discussing the benefits and disadvantages of remote hearings: did Cumbo have any thoughts? She opened by saying: ‘We are very anxious about any idea that this should become the new normal.’
At which point, the screen froze and the picture cut out, leaving chair Bob Neill to ponder aloud the risks of working with technology.
Alas, viewers never did hear further details about the drawbacks of remote hearings – and no doubt Cumbo would have had plenty of insight to offer. But as a comment on the reliability of technology and the limitations of hearing from witnesses remotely, we’d say she made the point rather well.