Nice to hear that our senior judges are continuing to get to grips with technology. Deputy Supreme Court president Lord Hodge, a spritely 67, was enthusing in a speech the other day about the challenges of learning on the job.
‘In the very first hearing I found that it was necessary to require all participants other than the counsel who was addressing the court and the presiding justice to switch their computer microphones to mute as otherwise the camera would switch from a speaker to someone who was rustling his or her papers.’
There were also lessons about working from home: ‘We have learned the value of connecting to the router by ethernet to avoid disruption to the signal caused by competition within the family for use of Wi-Fi. We have also been aware of the need to establish suitable lighting so that we are clearly visible to counsel who wish to observe our reactions to their submissions and we have had to think about sitting in front of an appropriate and sober background in order not to create a distraction.’
One lesson must have been particularly galling for the senior beaks: ‘When justices wished to ask questions, they had to attract the attention of counsel, the presiding justice or the IT official organising the hearing by raising a hand to have his or her microphone unmuted. This hampered any spontaneity. But it worked.’
Obiter wonders if the habit of judges putting their hands up if they wish to speak will stick. We suspect not.