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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Decision making and appeals  →  Thread

Tribunal ‘modernisation’ - modern technology (failure)

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Peter Turville
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Welfare rights worker - Oxford Community Work Agency

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Tribunal hearing - PO to appear by video link (first time in 30+ yrs I have attended a hearing where attendance by video link was directed)  - except the technology failed - resorted to the phone from the clerks desk perched on the corner of the tribunal table screen (tribunal room used to be the probate office) on speaker phone. Not ideal.

Only a one off for me but our county court (where tribunals are now held) is not geared up to use this new fangled technology (and nor I suspect are many of the offices where POs live).

Hey Ho!

Mike Hughes
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Ah, welcome to our increasingly less exclusive club where HMCTS try to move into digital but end up being analogue. My last one was a video hearing for PC where the PO was to present from Newcastle (I think). Not a single element of it worked. Tribunal judge helped no end with their “You win. Let’s face it you were always going to win.”  What I was truly appalled about was the lack of any insight into the stress this caused the appellant. By all accounts it is only going to get worse.

Peter Turville
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Mike Hughes - 07 June 2019 01:51 PM

Ah, welcome to our increasingly less exclusive club where HMCTS try to move into digital but end up being analogue. My last one was a video hearing for PC where the PO was to present from Newcastle (I think). Not a single element of it worked. Tribunal judge helped no end with their “You win. Let’s face it you were always going to win.”  What I was truly appalled about was the lack of any insight into the stress this caused the appellant. By all accounts it is only going to get worse.

Mine was also a PC / PO in Newcastle case. Have had a few telephone hearings with appellant on phone (mobile) from home.  Almost impossible to conduct a conversation / hearing with poor quality mobile signal / inadiquate amplification of phone at venue.

That’s before considering the issues raised by today’s news item https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/news/item/peers-recommend-new-duty-on-lord-chancellor-to

Mike Hughes
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Indeed. Issue for me there is why not a duty across the board?

MaggieB
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Dorchester CAB

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We had client’s appeal via videolink hearing last week which had to be adjourned due to IT failure and rescheduled.  Another client scheduled next week who is very nervous about “talking to a television”
Wouldn’t be quite so bad if hearings weren’t (currently) a 60 week wait at Weymouth venue…..
My real concern is client will be halfway through a difficult and potentially distressing hearing when the system crashes and they have to do it all again a few weeks.

Mike Hughes
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I think you’re being optimistic about crashing. There’s precious little data to suggest they can get these things working properly in the first place. That said, the complete lack of liaison between HMCTS and their so-called “partners” (that’d be us when it suits and not us when it doesn’t) has “traditional government IT disaster” writ large so I think we should extend this thread for as long as possible so we can point to it 2 years and say “but we told you so”.

Peter Turville
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We could include some older technology such as DWP/HMRC sending video surveillance / recordings of telephone calls as evidence for hearings on CD’s without any instruction as to the format, how to open / run etc (even assuming HMCTS have the equipment to play them)!

Mike Hughes
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Still happens periodically. I’m a big fan of the ones where neither the claimant nor the rep have been able to see it; you roll up and nor have the tribunal and then they think there’s no breach of natural justice in ploughing on.

shawn mach
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HMCTS are running an online tribunal reform event on 26 June at 1pm ...

This event aims to give more information and understanding about our work in tribunals. We would also like to offer you the chance to provide feedback on what we’ve done so far. Then event will go into detail on our work so far in:

• immigration and asylum appeals
• social security and child support appeals (focusing on Personal Independence Payment and Employment Support Allowance appeals)
• continuous online resolution.

The session is aimed at legal professionals involved in these cases, although it will also be of interest to people working in local authorities, the health service and third-sector organisations. This event will run for between 45 and 60 minutes and will be recorded and available to watch afterwards.

More info and registration: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6141881147521734157

 

Mike Hughes
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Publicity around that has been shocking. Just about to register.

MaggieB
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Our office IT person said he would expect the IT to work 60:40 but a magistrate I know says when they use the same system in court it works 50:50…not optimistic!

Mike Hughes
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I hope that’s the specific IT in question rather than IT in general!

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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We have a face to face appeal hearing in the morning in the same room and a video link hearing in the afternoon at the same venue, with the panel actually sitting in Cardiff our regional HQ.

It appears due to lack of capacity locally and shortages rather than modernisation per se. The 40% cut to HMCTS since 2010 has bitten deeply etc etc!

past caring
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Should say that I had a hearing the other week where the PO appeared via video link and everything worked flawlessly. All of ours are at a central London venue, though, so I’d imagine there’s probably been a bit more money thrown at getting it right…..

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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We had our first video link hearing in Weymouth last Friday afternoon.

After that experience i would rather wait 60 weeks for face to face hearings! Backlog or no backlog!

No complaints whatsoever regarding the Tribunal panel, and how they conducted the hearing (in really difficult circumstances)! Tribunal Clerk did her best too, grateful to her!

But the video link was bloody awful to put it mildly! For all parties concerned! Peering and squinting in to the distance.

Small screen with a limited cropped view of one another on a side wall, and essentially a phone on loud speaker. Bad enough in its self!

But then everyone had to contend with further impediments to the process below!

We had to leave the room twice so continuity affected. There were delays and echoes in voice transmission, face to face contact was difficult because we ended up having to hover above the phone facing one way when speaking, with the screen high up on a side wall facing the other way.

The thought of doing this on a regular basis. I really can’t imagine appealing to either HMCTS workers, clients and reps, but what we will all be faced with, on an increasingly regular basis!

One further thought (colleague observing asked), does this mean there will be a recording of video link hearings or otherwise, obtainable on request if applying for set asides or permission to appeal to the UT?

Mr Finch
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My experience of a couple of such hearings so far has been much the same, particularly the awful sound. The quality of the audio is so poor the tribunal and appellant have to speak in a very forced, annoying, overly patronising voice like the cliched person phoning from the train.