You might just have heard the phrase “hybrid hearings,” but you might also never completely comprehend it. Since the COVID-19 epidemic, courts have had to quickly adapt their procedures. A hybrid hearing is a cross between a remote hearing and a court hearing, in which all parties concerned attend in person. A remote hearing is one in which all participants participate by video connection or mobile video conference. The Judge will always be fully present in the courtroom during a hybrid hearing. The parties, their legal representatives, and witnesses can all be physically present in the courtroom at the same time. Everyone else will be able to watch the hearing from anywhere else.
What about the practicalities?
In terms of the practical procedures, hybrid hearings posed several challenges to users which would not have arisen if everything had been done remotely. Many had to make sure that each of the distant witnesses received a package of papers that exactly matched the packages that were being referred to in court.
The problem that might occur is when witnesses are joining in to the proceedings via meeting platforms might have some technical issues. Witnesses in remote parts of other countries might have poorer internet connections, which can cause broadcast delays. It is important to have a judge who is patient, whenever they have to seek for clarification on what had been said on various occasions. Giving evidence over the internet may be inconvenient for some.
All in all, the coronavirus epidemic has brought in a new paradigm in legal practise, for better or worse. In terms of evidentiary hearings, what were previously in-person proceedings have now, it appears, become entirely virtual. Is this, however, a long-overdue evolution or only a blip?
It could be evaluated at the possible hazards of virtual construction hearings and how to prevent them, as well as how arbitral institutions have attempted to design and codify processes to limit these risks. Construction experts may eventually try to combine the best of both worlds by developing hybrid in-person and virtual hearing.
A hybrid hearing can take many forms based on the relevant facts of the dispute. Certain judicial and party representatives, for instance, may be physically gathered in two locations and connected virtually. This implies that, even if the parties are unable to meet in person owing to local COVID constraints, they will gain from at least some in-person preparations. Parties may also choose to have just significant witnesses cross-examined in person, with the remainder of the cross-examination taking place remotely.
There are numerous intricacies on how a hybrid hearing might be held if the parties are agreeable. Parties must carefully assess which form best fits their specific interests and is suitable in the conditions, while balancing procedural fairness, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency.
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