Supreme Court to hear cases via video link as nation goes into lockdown

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Building temporarily closed

The Supreme Court will switch to video conferencing to hear cases and hand down judgments from today.

The UK’s top court said in a statement on Monday:

“As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) will hear all cases and deliver judgments through video conferencing, from tomorrow, Tuesday 24 March 2020.”

The update follows last night’s nationwide ‘lockdown’ initiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The PM ratcheted up the UK’s response to the escalating crisis by ordering the country to “stay at home”, other than for “very limited” reasons, to curb the spread of the novel virus. These reasons include travel for essential work, one form of exercise a day and shopping for basic necessities.

The court said all cases and the delivery of judgments will continue via a web-based video conferencing system until further notice. The parties, their legal teams, counsel and each of the justices will be located in different places.

The matter of Fowler (Respondent) v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (Appellant) will make legal history as the first Supreme Court case to be heard entirely via video link.

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The Supreme Court building is temporarily closed but the public and media will be able to follow live proceedings online.

Last Tuesday it announced a number of temporary restrictions relating to visitor access: all tours, events and educational sessions were cancelled for the foreseeable future.

The Supreme Court said it is unable to advise when hearings will resume as normal but it will continue to monitor the situation and the measures in place.

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John Edwards

This was inevitable…



Does this mean Fowler v RCC is the first non-sensitive hearing in British history not to have been accessible to the public?


Access to Justice

….no? As the article says, you could literally watch it live from the comfort of your sofa, wearing whatever you want (and judging from Twitter quite a number of people did). You can also now watch the full recording on the SC’s website. If anything, it is/was vastly more accessible to the public than any random county court hearing where people have to actually go to the court in question, queue, go through security etc.


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