Benefit tribunals: appellants are warned if their hearing is by video link, their home becomes part of the court

This is a timely warning, as the coronavirus lockdown forces legal procedures out of the courtroom and online:

People taking part in benefit tribunals that are heard on video and audio, so they do not have to leave their own home, must treat their home as a part of the courtroom for the duration of the hearing.

This means they must sit somewhere with a blank or neutral view behind them, and if they need to move away from their screen or phone during the hearing they must ask permission.

If they need someone with them who is not a legal representative (for example, a carer) they must ask the court’s permission.

They may not eat or smoke anything, including e-cigarettes, and may only drink water.

Crucially, it is a criminal offence to publish images or audio from a court hearing without authorisation.

The advice is timely because, between March 19 and April 6, use of audio increased from 100 hearings to 1,850, while use of video went up from 150 hearings to 1,100.

On April 6 itself, around 85 per cent of cases heard in England and Wales used audio and video technology.

You can find guidance on taking part in telephone and video hearings here.

You can read the full figures on video and audio hearings here.

Source: Treat your home as a court room, tribunal appellants warned

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