TELEPHONE HEARINGS WHEN COUNSEL WON’T ANSWER THE TELEPHONE: THE UNHAPPY LORD JUSTICE

There is a short judgment recently arrived on BAILLI which fits in well with the earlier post about telephone and electronic hearings. In Nixon & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWCA Civ 2694 Lord Justice Beatson comments on the absence of counsel at a telephone hearing because they were “on another matter”.  This followed an earlier hearing when an attempt at a video link was also unsuccessful.

This is not the way for those who want to have telephone hearings to conduct themselves. “

“”Your hearing is important to us, my Lord. Please hold the line and we will connect you with first available Counsel. Did you know that you can find a lot of useful information on our Chambers website, 24h a day, at www…” * 

THE JUDGMENT

LORD JUSTICE BEATSON:

 

  • It is now 10.08 am. This was a hearing, a renewed application for permission to appeal brought by Mr Paul Nixon and his son, Jaquan Nixon. This hearing was adjourned from 3 May when the court was unable to achieve a video link with the applicant’s counsel.
  • Today, the court has been trying to make contact telephonically with counsel’s chambers to enable us to have a telephone hearing. This has been going on since 9.55 am. We were told that counsel was on another matter and we were then put on hold. The number has been ringing out with no answer.
  • This is not the way for those who want to have telephone hearings to conduct themselves. It is not possible for this hearing to take place. The matter will have to be adjourned. I do not reserve it to myself, as I did last time.
  • I also direct that, if there is to be a renewed oral hearing, unless the applicants can show cause and explain why they were not available on the phone today, that any further hearing should be an ordinary hearing in person without relying on telephone or video which has been proved ineffective in this case. It is regrettable.
  • I am not in a position to know what is said on behalf of the applicants and so, I adjourn this for the second time. I make a direction that the hearing be a full hearing orally in the presence of counsel or Mr Nixon unless they satisfactorily explain in writing what has happened and give an undertaking as to why a remote arrangement will work.
  • The matter is therefore adjourned.

*I am grateful to Michael Bimmler for this witty observation  made on Twitter. It is reproduced with his permission.