UK Supreme Court

Can justice be done by video conference?

Dominic Casciani

Home Affairs Correspondent

The UK Supreme Court’s first ever case-by-video-conference got off to a faltering start as the country's most powerful judges had to learn quickly how to manage live broadcasting and all its unpredictable technical problems.

The court is closed due to anti-coronavirus measures and it's experimenting with video-conferencing software in an attempt to continue its work.

Tuesday's case involves five justices in different locations, all appearing on video, listening to lawyers appearing from elsewhere on their own feeds.

The first quarter of an hour of the broadcast was at times impossible to follow - and not just because it was about UK and South African tax law.

Video and audio feeds from the individual locations either stopped or broke up. At one point the lead justice, Lord Hodge, gave his colleagues IT instructions to hit "F4" so that their individual microphones did not interfere with each other.

On Wednesday the Court will attempt to deliver a major judgement by video link concerning the fate of two of British men who became part of the so-called “Beatles” Islamic State murder squad. This morning's pilot has demonstrated how difficult it may be for justice to continue functioning in all of the UK's courts.

Lord Hodge on the Supreme Court's unprecedented video conference
Lord Hodge on the Supreme Court's unprecedented video conference