First Skype hearing in the Court of Protection

Last week saw the CoP use Skype for Business to conduct its first trial – and in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, this potentially represents a new model for ensuring court business continuity.

The case was conducted over four days (including a day for judicial reading and an urgent directions hearing).  Mr Justice Mostyn presided over the case and heard 11 witnesses (including three experts) together with five sets of legal representatives for the Clinical Commissioning Group, the individual's GP, the Local Authority, the Official Solicitor and the individual’s daughter. The Skype platform enabled all attendees to contribute to the proceedings, as well as providing a video recording of the hearing. Despite the amount of people involved the matter proceeded successfully with those involved being able to remain at their homes which were widely spread throughout England.

Mr Justice Mostyn believed it was imperative for justice to continue, especially as the case involved the difficult and emotive decision to withdraw life sustaining treatment from a patient in their 70s who had suffered a stroke. The press association were informed of the hearing and attended, although reporting restrictions were in place to protect the identity of the individual concerned.

Mr Justin Mostyn considers that this type of remote trial could be used more widely in the future and when the pandemic is over.

Mills & Reeve represented the CCG in this first case of its kind. Further discussion of the complex issues of the case itself will be reported upon once the judgment is out in the next week or so.

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