The Adoption of Virtual Court Hearings Can Affect All of Us
By: Raul R. Cortez, Senior Advisor | 24 November 2022
Photo credits: Thomson Reuters
Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines was named by the Council of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Chief Justices (CACJ) to create a working group focusing on the adoption of common principles and guidelines on the conduct of video conference hearings (VCH) in judicial cases within the region. This is a welcome assignment, especially coming from a Judicial Branch of government.
Traditionally, the legal profession has been quite conservative with the adoption of technology. However, recent developments have shown that the court systems are slowly making that move to the digital space. In an ironic twist, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the adoption of technology. Nonetheless, this shift is indeed a significant step toward the modernization of the legal landscape.
However, what is the implication for those who are not directly involved in the legal profession? We would be surprised by how many of us will be impacted.
In order for us to better grasp the magnitude of this digital transformation we need to look at it from different perspectives. Let us start with the most obvious one, which is the legal profession.
The adoption of video conferencing hearings would mean adoption of new rules for lawyers and judges alike. These rules should complement existing rules on court procedure. However, we will not delve into those in detail in this article since they will impact legal practitioners.
Aside from the rules of procedure, the crafters of the new electronic rules should also look at the operation side of the implementation. The need for reliable connectivity would be at the top of the list. They also need to look at relevant applications and systems. which legal professionals should learn to use. In addition, the new rules should address the security of the system as well as data privacy concerns.
The new rules should also take into consideration the fact neither crimes or even commercial transactions would no longer constrained by geopolitical boundaries. Rules on collection and presentation of evidence should therefore be consistent. In the end though, once this system has been developed, it will provide countless benefits to the legal profession.
As posited earlier, the impact of virtual conference hearings does not end with the legal profession. Let us now take a look at the other sectors that will be affected.
The adoption of VCH will definitely open a new market to IT industry players. New applications will be developed to meet the needs of the VCH. This also opens up the avenue for cybersecurity companies to participate and offer services that will ensure the integrity of court proceedings as well as preserve confidentiality of data and protection of personal information. This is also an opportunity for IT companies to showcase the functionality and application of these products and services for other uses video conferencing in the workplace or even for social events.
The last thing consumers want is to be involved in court hearings or litigation. However, in the event that they are, they need to be assured that they are protected and that their information is kept safe. It is also an opportunity to become more aware of applications or systems that are available in the market that they can use for their own personal needs.
Lastly, the adoption of VCH will open new opportunities for other forms of businesses such as computer kiosks and internet cafés where participants in VCH can access and participate in the proceedings.
VCH are no longer just an idea in the distant future. They will soon be the new format for hearing court cases. Thus, it benefits everyone involved to have a clear and comprehensive plan to pave the way.