With much of the legal profession now in lockdown, attention has naturally started to focus on the use of telephone/video conferencing facilities to undertake court hearings, mediations, meetings, etc.
Gordon Exall’s Civil Litigation Brief blog has been providing a large number of useful links providing various guidance on how to make use of this technology. The natural danger with this is to believe this is largely a matter of acquiring the necessary technical know-how of Skype, Zoom, etc and understanding the appropriate etiquette (eg giving consideration to what will be seen in the background of your video call). However, I have one word of warning: Scraps.
For those of us already used to working from home, there is one thing that can be guaranteed to happen during a crucial telephone hearing, video conference with client, etc. The guaranteed event is that the dog that has been happily snoozing at your feet for the past hour will suddenly hear the postman 200 yards down the road and start hysterically barking as though his life depended on it.
Equally, you can also guarantee that the doorbell will go at a crucial moment. Even if the dog is not already awake and barking, it will be now. At normal times, and disregarding barking dogs, you might simply ignore the doorbell and continue. These are not normal times. If there is no one else in the house to answer the door at that moment, ignoring the doorbell is not an option. It may be a courier delivery of papers with urgent instructions. If you miss it, there is no way of knowing if, when or how you will be able to rearrange delivery. Or, it may be an emergency gin delivery. Either way, you will have to break-off to answer it.
Four-legged friends are not the only peril. Two-legged ones pose just as much of a danger. You can explain to little Tarquin until you are blue in the face that “Daddy has a very important telephone hearing to deal with an application for relief from sanctions in the Chancery Division and must not be disturbed for the next two hours”. But the moment Tarquin gets two crayons stuck up his nose, all bets are off.
Or, your valet pops his heard around the door to enquire as to whether he should put out your brown Harris Tweed suit for later.
The perils of working from home.