Jonathan Pennington Legh successful in CVP remote trial involving interpreters and witness in Nepal

12 February 2021

Jonathan successfully represented the claimant in the case of Gurung v Gurung in the Oxford County Court. The trial was heard over three days by remote CVP (Cloud Video Platform). It involved cross examination of various witnesses giving evidence through remote interpreters and one giving evidence by link from Nepal.

Almost one year on from the launch of HM Courts and Tribunals Service CVP software, what have we learnt about using the technology?

Preparation and equipment is key

To be effective during a remotely heard trial, you need at least two main screens:

  • One for the court/tribunal on CVP
  • One for the bundle

This presumes your notes are either in paper form or on a third screen, e.g. an iPad.

You also need two minor screens for your confidential communications:

  • a mobile for WhatsApp and
  • a tablet for email.

Confidential communications

It is naturally important to agree in advance how you will conduct confidential communications during the hearing. Remember some will be with the solicitor alone. In this case we used email and WhatsApp.

On the day of the hearing – some tips

Join the remote hearing early. There are frequently technical glitches which can be ironed out before the hearing starts.

Agree a speaking protocol at the outset.

For private discussions with your client, be cautious about using software that allows you to leave the main hearing and to go into a separate virtual meeting ‘room’. It may be better to ask the judge if you can temporarily leave the hearing to have a private conference with your client.  Even if you go into another room to speak to your client, mute your microphone and switch off your camera temporarily. Or, sign out of the meeting and sign in again upon returning.

Remember to mute yourself when you are not speaking – really every attendee should be muted except the judge, the witness being cross-examined and one (or possibly both) counsel. And remember to turn your camera off during the lunch (or any other) short adjournment!

When cross-examining, be more patient than at a live trial – there is a short lag on CVP meaning that counsel and witness can talk over each other. The examination of witnesses naturally takes longer than it otherwise might, particularly where interpreters are involved, so bear that in mind with time estimates.

About Gurung v Gurung itself

 The case involved the Thousands Buddha UK Charity, founded in October 2017 as an unincorporated association, and was of great public interest to the Buddhist community in the Reading area.

The claimant was seeking the recovery of monies paid out of its bank account. As it was an unincorporated association, this involved various complex legal arguments, including whether the association was a charity, whether it was dissolved and how those monies were held.