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If you have a court hearing by phone or video call

This advice applies to England

A lot of court and tribunal hearings happen over the phone or by video call. These are sometimes called ‘remote hearings’.

You’ll need to prepare for a remote hearing and treat it with respect like a face to face hearing.

If your hearing is over the phone, the court will usually call you. If you have to call the court, the call will be free.

If you use your mobile phone for a video call hearing, it’s best to use wifi if you can. If you use your phone’s data instead, it might be expensive.

The court or tribunal will call you before the hearing to check you:

  • have a good phone line or internet connection

If a court or tribunal gives you the option of a remote hearing

Think about whether to agree to a remote hearing or ask for a face to face hearing instead.

For example, you might not want a remote hearing if:

  • it would make you anxious
  • it would be difficult because you have a medical condition or disability
  • you don’t have a good phone line or internet connection

Ask the court or tribunal what will happen if you don’t agree to have a remote hearing. You can find the contact details for your court or tribunal on GOV.UK. You might have to wait a long time for a face to face hearing – think about what effect this delay will have on you.

If you don’t want a remote hearing

Tell the court or tribunal as soon as possible that you want a face to face hearing instead. It’s usually best to call them – you can find the contact details for your court or tribunal on GOV.UK.

Tell them why you don’t want a remote hearing. For example, tell them if:

  • it would make you anxious
  • it would be difficult because of a medical condition or disability
  • you don’t have a good phone line or internet connection 

The court or tribunal might agree to wait until they can arrange a face to face hearing. This means you might have to wait a long time to get a result.

Preparing for a remote hearing

Make sure you’ve got all the documents you need for the hearing. The court or tribunal will usually send you a collection of documents with page numbers. This is sometimes called a 'bundle'.

The letters from the court or tribunal should say if you can have someone with you during the hearing – for example a friend or family member. If you’re allowed someone with you, they can give you support, take notes and help you with paperwork. If you have a legal representative, they’ll also join the remote hearing.

Tell the court or tribunal as soon as possible if you’ve got any questions or you’re worried about the hearing. Tell them if you’ll need any extra support at the hearing – for example if you need to take breaks often. You can find the contact details for your court or tribunal on GOV.UK.

Check what to do on the day of the hearing

Try to find somewhere quiet where you won’t be interrupted. Make sure your phone won’t make noises during the hearing.

If the hearing is by video call, you should also:

  • wear smart clothes – wear what you would wear at a face to face hearing
  • sit in front of a plain wall if you can, so your background on the call isn’t distracting

Don’t eat or drink anything during the hearing – except water.

Make sure your phone or device doesn’t record the call – it’s against the law to record a hearing.

At the start of the hearing, tell the judge if:

  • you’re likely to be interrupted
  • you need any extra support – for example if you need to take breaks often
  • you’ve got any questions or you’re worried about the hearing

During the hearing, try to speak as clearly as you can. Tell the judge if you don’t hear or understand anything.

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