When lockdown is fully over, the comedy sketch writers will surely have a field day. And none more so than those looking at the functioning of a remote court system.
Obiter has nothing but admiration and sympathy for the judges and advocates trying to navigate the logistical and technological issues which crop up with virtual hearings.
Take this morning’s case of Banerjee v Royal Bank of Canada in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, beamed in through Skype for Business.
Sadly, for the first half-hour of proceedings, whatever business Skype was aiming for was not the business of the tribunal. Presiding judge Lord Summers joined the conversation on time but could not hear anyone. The QC about to speak could hear the judge but not see him, while the clerk could see the judge but not hear him. (bizarrely, Obiter was able to see and hear everyone the whole time).
The clerk then tried to call the judge, who was not picking up. Those present then had to wait while the judge and clerk exchanged emails, before it was decided Summers should take the only available action - and switch it off then on again. A few minutes later, while court time drifted away and advocate fees presumably racked up, he was back on screen, only for the QC to vanish from view. Of course, he also then turned it off and on, before the hearing finally got under way.