CLAIMANT NOT SUCCESSFUL IN APPLICATION THAT A WITNESS ATTEND IN PERSON AND NOT REMOTELY
In Langley v GMB & Ors  EWHC 3619 (QB) Mrs Justice Stacy refused a claimant’s application for an order that a defendant’s witness attend court personally. The matter could proceed fairly with the witness attending remotely. This judgment (given in November last year) gives an important indication of the manner in which the courts are approaching this issue.
“I find that it is not essential for her to be physically in the court. The formality, control, and integrity of the court proceedings can be maintained whilst she gives evidence remotely”
The claimant brought an action against several defendants alleging negligence and breach of contract, alleging negligent advice was given in the settlement of an action.
THE JUDGMENT ON THE WITNESS ATTENDING REMOTELY
The judge considered, and rejected, the claimant’s argument that a witness should attend remotely.
2. There was an application for the GMB’s witness Gill Ogilvie (formerly Whittaker) to give her evidence remotely on medical grounds which was supported by a witness statement from her and an email from her treating consultant. It was confirmed that she would be able to give her evidence undisturbed without any others present in the room and that she would have either a hard copy of the bundle or a second full screen device with an electronic copy of the bundle available and be able to replicate conditions in the courtroom as much as possible. She had sufficient broadband width and computer facilities to ensure a good connection, audio and visual images on screen in the court room.
Mr Langley objected to Ms Ogilvie not attending in person. He had travelled down from Birmingham to be here and he wanted her to be in the room when he cross-examined her. Ms Ogilvie has two medical conditions which place her in a high-risk Covid-19 category and she has been shielding throughout the pandemic. The journey to court to give evidence from her home in the West Midlands would be considerable and only essential travel is permitted under current government restrictions.
I find that it is not essential for her to be physically in the court. The formality, control, and integrity of the court proceedings can be maintained whilst she gives evidence remotely. The screen can be positioned in front of Mr Langley to assist him whilst cross-examining her which will be considerably closer than would be the case if she was physically in the courtroom and be beneficial for his hearing. I find that Mr Langley will not be prejudiced by Ms Ogilvie not being in court and the application was granted.