• Adami Geldenhuys

Online Meetings / Hearings / Dispute Resolution

Updated: Oct 31, 2020

With the increased use of remote hearings and meetings resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, we look at the highlights from a small selection of recent material published on this subject.

Expert Evidence

The Academy of Experts has published a guidance document, entitled Remote & Virtual Hearings Guidance for Experts. Practical issues such as problems that might occur at the hearing, clothes to wear, livestreaming, lighting, headsets and report preparations are addressed in the document.

Best practice and skills required

In her article, Best Practice and Advocacy Skills for Remote Hearings, Anna Annandal offers advice on:

· experimenting with technology in advance to familiarise yourself with the features of the platform used.

· the importance of appearances – the author notes the following: “You should not underestimate the difference that makes to how you are perceived by those looking into your fish bowl and your practice session will give you an opportunity to adapt how you present yourself and your case online.”

· protocol, etiquette and advocacy during the hearing.

· presentation skills.

· the share screen function.

· things that you need to do shortly before hearing.

· dry runs and briefings;

· how to join the meeting.

The article was published in the August 2020 issue of Advocate, the official journal of the General Council of the Bar of South Africa.

The joint E-Hearings Task Force of Canadian The Advocates’ Society, the Ontario Bar Association, the Federation of Ontario Law Associations, and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association developed the Best Practices for Remote Hearings. The document is accompanied by the following additional documents:

Overview of Best Practices for Remote Hearings

Checklist: Preparing Your System for a Remote Hearing

Checklist: Counsel Preparation in Advance of Meeting with Adjudicator

Checklist: Matters to Consider Reviewing with Judge in Advance of Hearing

Looking good on Zoom – about appearances.

In Zooming Into the Future: Tips to Improve One’s Appearance at Online Meetings by Daniel E. Cummins provides useful practical tips on issues such as lighting, background, adjusting to be eye level with the Webcam and sound.

The article published in The Legal Intelligencer on 6 August 2020 mentions the importance of being properly groomed. Business attire is recommended while busy patterns in your tops and ties should be avoided. The fashion experts also recommend avoiding very bright and very dark colours. Plain, solid colours are recommended. Wearing colours similar to the colour of your background should be avoided. Apparently, wearing the same colour as your background, could create a floating head effect. The author also mentions the functionality of “Touch Up My Appearance” button on Zoom.

Men’s Attire: A Gentleman’s Guide for How to Look Good on Zoom by Raphael Schneider offers ‘fashionable’ advice for men. The author provides the following guiding principles for managing the ‘what to wear’ question:

· Get dressed for the “office” every day.

· Keep your approach situational.

· Wear pants.

· Don’t skip the accessories.

This article was published on the website, AttorneyatWork on 23 September 2020.

The advantages and disadvantages

In Mediation Mediums: the Benefits and Burdens of Online Alternative Dispute Resolution in Australia by Katrina Kluss published in the Australian Alternative Dispute Resolution Law Bulletin, the advantages and disadvantages of online dispute resolution are discussed. Some of the disadvantages mentioned include:

· The risk to confidentiality of using third party software and applications.

· It is usually more difficult to build a rapport with and gain the confidence of parties.

· The absence of human insight, empathy, and guidance in emotionally complex legal matters might be problematic.

· Not all clients are technologically savvy or have access to computers or a reliable internet connection.

The subject of this article is covered in our monthly Practice Management Alert. View our website at https://www.lexinfo.co.za/lexinfo-practice-management-alert for more information on this product.

Originally published in the Lexinfo Info Law Alert: September 2020 (see https://www.lexinfo.co.za/free-newsletter).


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