What is a Remote Hearing?

A Remote Hearing (sometimes called a Virtual Hearing) takes place online, with everyone taking part from their home or a suitable external location.

What is a Hybrid Hearing?

A Hybrid Hearing is a Hearing where some participants are together in the same room and some are attending remotely.

What do I need to take part in a Remote Hearing?

  • Access to the internet
  • A device which can access the internet (e.g. laptop, iPad, computer)
  • A private space to take part in the Hearing
  • Headphones, if you have them

What if I cannot attend remotely?

If you are going to struggle with a Remote Hearing, you should let the Convenor know as soon as possible.

Some of the problems you may face include:

  • Not having good enough signal or do not have internet access
  • Not having a private space to take part in the Hearing
  • Not feeling confident using technology
  • Not feeling comfortable taking part from your home
  • Not feeling well enough to concentrate and take part

You can ask the Tribunal members to adjourn the Hearing. This means it will be delayed until it is possible to have a Hearing in person at Briarwood. Sometimes adjourning the Hearing will not be possible, for example when the care requirement or interim care requirement is about to reach its end date. The decision about whether a Hearing should be adjourned, or whether it should take place in person or online, is always a decision for the Tribunal members.

If the Hearing really needs to go ahead and you are not able to attend remotely from home, the Convenor will discuss with you the other options available for you to take part.

Discussion with the Convenor

When the Convenor is deciding whether a Remote Hearing should take place, they may contact you to discuss this and the different options available.

We use Microsoft Teams for all Remote Hearings. This means you will be able to see the Tribunal members and any other people who are speaking, and they will be able to see you. You can access information on how to download Microsoft Teams here.

If you would like to try a Remote Hearing experience in advance to see if it works and what it looks and feels like, the Convenor can arrange this for you. If you try it out, make sure you tell the Convenor of any problems you experience or any concerns or worries that you have.

Preparing for a Remote Hearing

It is important that you prepare carefully for the Hearing. The fact that the Hearing is taking place remotely does not change your rights. Think about the most important issues you want the Tribunal members to know about before the Hearing and make sure you raise each one.

If you would prefer, you can write down your points and send these to the Convenor a few days before the date of the Hearing. The Convenor can make these available to the Tribunal members.

It's important to identify a quiet space in your home where you will not be disturbed or overheard by anyone, where you can take part in the Hearing. Let people who share the space with you know that you must not be interrupted during the Hearing. If this is not possible, you can discuss other options with the Convenor.

Think about what will be behind you in the background, as everyone will be able to see this. Try not to sit in front of a window as you will be in shadow and people will not be able to see you clearly. 

Ahead of the Hearing, remember the following:

  • Make sure you have the Hearing papers to hand so that you can refer to them during the meeting.
  • Check you have the right internet browser or application on your device to access Microsoft Teams.
  • Check that you have the link to join the meeting.
  • Make sure that the device you will be using for the Hearing is fully charged or plugged in.
  • Dress for the Hearing as if you were coming into Briarwood. 

Tell the Convenor immediately if you have any issues or if you need any special arrangements that would help you feel safe and comfortable to take part in the Hearing. This may include making sure that you cannot be seen by another person during the Hearing. The Convenor will try to provide what you ask for, however this may not always be possible. You can contact the Convenor by email or telephone. You will find their contact details on the letter or email sent to you and you will also find our contact details here.

Have someone support you during your Hearing

Just as in an In Person Hearing, you can ask someone to provide you with support during a Remote or Hybrid Hearing. You must let the Convenor know the name of the person who will be supporting you and whether they will be at the same location as you or will be attending from another location.

Timing of the Hearing

The Convenor will tell you what time the Hearing will start and how long it should last. This means that you must be prepared and ready to start the Hearing at the time specified. Be sitting down, ready for the Hearing to start at least 10 minutes before it is due to start.

Joining the Remote Hearing

You will be sent details of how to join the Hearing by the Convenor before the meeting.

Try to join the Remote Hearing 5/10 minutes before it is due to start to make sure that there are no technical issues. You might have to wait a few minutes in a virtual waiting room before you can join the meeting. The Tribunal members will join the meeting at the time given by the Convenor. 

What happens in the Remote Hearing?

Remote Hearings follow the same process as they do when held in the Tribunal room at Briarwood.

Once everyone has joined, the chairperson will introduce everyone, explain what will happen and ask people to speak in turn. It is important that if you do not understand something, you let the chairperson know. If you do not agree with something that is said, you should make a note of it so that you can raise it when it is your turn to speak. You might want to have a pen and paper at hand for this.

When it is your turn to speak, focus on the main points you want to make first. Try to speak slowly and clearly so that everyone can hear you. Tell the Tribunal members what you think of the recommendations made by the social worker. If there is anything you don’t agree with explain why. The Tribunal members will have the same documents as you have and you can direct them to any parts you do not agree with.

Remember, you will be seen on screen by everyone else and should be mindful of your body language and behaviour, whether you are speaking or not. When you are speaking remember to make sure that your microphone is not muted and speak clearly. Remote Hearings can be long and it can be difficult to focus on a screen for long periods of time.  You can ask the Tribunal members to take a break during the Hearing.

Ensuring a fair Hearing

The chairperson will regularly check in with you to make sure that you are able to hear and understand everything that is being said. If at any point you cannot hear or see, do not understand cannot find a document that someone is referring to or are not following what is happening, tell the Tribunal members. You can do this by raising your hand, raising a “virtual” hand, or by speaking if raising your hand has not worked to attract the attention of the Tribunal members. You can say, for example, “I am sorry to interrupt but I did not hear what was said".

Confidentiality

Remote Hearings still need to be held confidentially. You will need to make sure that you are able to attend the Hearing in a place that is private and cannot be overheard by anyone. This is particularly important if you have children in the house with you. We know that this might be difficult, but try your best to ensure they cannot hear unless the Hearing is about them. If this is going to be an issue for you, you should tell the Convenor or Tribunal members as soon as possible.

Rules of the Hearing

You must treat Remote Hearings as seriously as if they were taking part at Briarwood. During the Hearing:

  • Do not eat, smoke or use e-cigarettes
  • Follow the instructions of the Tribunal members
  • Be alone unless you have a supporter with you

You are not allowed to record the Hearing’s video or sound or take photos or screen shots. This is a criminal offence. The Convenor will be keeping a record of the proceedings in the usual way.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the Convenor, via telephone +44 (0)1481 223290 or by emailing [email protected].

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