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Online Hearing - How to Prepare for It? What Do You Need to Know?

Online Hearing – How to Prepare for It? What Do You Need to Know?

Due to the prevalent epidemiological situation and the spread of the SARS CoV-2 virus, many regulations in the Polish legal system have been amended, and a number of completely new solutions have been introduced to facilitate everyday functioning in the new, pandemic reality.

One of such changes was the introduction by the Act of May 14, 2020, amending certain acts in the field of protective measures in connection with the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus (Journal of Laws of 2020, item 875), the possibility of holding a hearing or public sitting remotely using technical devices with simultaneous direct streaming of image and sound.

Such a solution, intended to improve the activity of justice institution, causes a large number of organizational problems both for the courts and the proceeding parties. Below, we present some elements that parties to proceedings should pay particular attention to when preparing to participate in an online hearing.

Technical issues

You will most likely be invited to an online hearing by e-mail, or possibly by a letter containing the link to the hearing. Therefore, in order not to overlook the information about the hearing, you should carefully check your e-mail inbox, as well as the “Spam” box. Moreover, it is extremely important to verify before the hearing that your electronic equipment is working flawlessly. First of all, it is about the correct operating of the microphone, as well as the camera, because during the trial both the video and audio stream must be on.

We recommend using headphones, because then the sound is clearer and all side sounds are less audible. In addition to technically efficient speakers, a camera and a microphone, it is important to verify the Wi-Fi connection, without which your participation in the hearing is impossible.

Active participation in the hearing

It is absolutely necessary to remember to turn off the microphone when you do not speak at the hearing. Practice shows that failure to do so may result in enabling all parties to the proceedings, including the Court, hear individual arrangements between the mandatary and the attorney, even if they whisper with each other.

Rule no. 1: Turn off the microphone when not in use.

The camera, on the other hand, should be set in such a way that the upper part of your body is clearly visible. Pay attention to what is behind you, because it certainly should not be an unmade bed or hanging laundry. The environment around you should not distract the participants in the proceedings or raise doubts as to the nature of the meeting.

Rule no. 2: Properly position the camera aiming it at the upper part of your body.

Rule no. 3: Take care of the environment visible in the background visible to the participants in the meeting.

Outfit

Online hearing is a novelty, and many questions and doubts arise. Some of them relate to the look and outfit that should be worn during such a remote connection.

It is obvious that the use of means of remote communication should not diminish the authority of the Court. The court and attorneys at online hearing wear a gowns, so the parties should also keep clean, elegant and neat. You must not forget that although the situation is somewhat informal in some respects, you still appear before the Court and your behaviour should not differ from the standards adopted when conducting a hearing at the Court’s seat.

Rule no. 4: Take care of appropriate clothing.

The course of the trial, questioning

In terms of procedure, an online trial is not much different from that which is held in at the seat of the Court. The hearing of witnesses is carried out in a standard way, as the Court has the option to exclude other persons from attending the hearing, which makes it possible to ensure that witnesses who have not yet given evidence will not be present at the hearing of other witnesses. The only difference may be that the Court may resign from making a witness stand up while giving their testimony. However, due to the fact that there is no established position in this case, it is always worth asking the Court whether a seated position is appropriate in this situation.

Rule No. 5: The court decides whether the testifying party or witness is to remain standing.

Conducting online hearings on such a large scale is new, we are all learning to some extent. However, you must not forget that, regardless of the form adopted, it is still a court proceeding, during which the institution of the Court must be properly respected, both by appearance and behavior, as well as by the manner of expression.

Rule No. 6: Give due respect to the institution of the Court.

If you have any further quesries, please contact our law firm. We are happy to answer your questions.

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Barbara Śmiałkowska
Trainee Advocate