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New HMCTS guidance on when video or telephone hearings may be appropriate

04 April 2020

Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has issued a new Practice Direction to First-tier Tribunal social security judges on contingency arrangements during the covid-19 pandemic.

The new guidance supplements that recently issued by the Senior President of Tribunals.

The Practice Direction advises that salaried judges should first sift appeals to assess whether they are appropriate to decide without an oral hearing,

If an appeal cannot be fairly and justly allowed on the balance of probabilities and on the available evidence, judges are advised that they should consider whether to:

  • make directions to obtain further evidence (although obtaining GP records or any other evidence is noted as ‘probably not an option during this crisis’); or
  • arrange a remote hearing when a hearing needs to be held, either online or by telephone or video, using the normal panel composition where practicable.

In addition, the guidance says that:

  • where a hearing needs to be held that  the normal arrangement will be remote hearings with decisions being made online or by telephone or video; and
  • that these will be using the normal panel composition where practicable.

For more inforamtion see the Chamber President’s Guidance Note No.3. (Social Security and Child Support) available from judiciary.uk

HMCTS also produce a daily Coranavirus update available from gov.uk.