We have been asked to circulate this useful guide to using Skype for Business to conduct virtual hearings in the Crown Court:Skype for Business Users Guide 27.03.20

Skype for Business will be the principal mechanism whereby virtual hearings will be held. The guide has screenshots which should assist.

We strongly advise that you take steps to ensure you have installed the appropriate software and enabled the required permissions in advance of conducting your first virtual hearing in the Crown Court. Sometimes there are issues with permissions and use of the camera on a laptop and these should be resolved beforehand to avoid delays at the time of your hearing.

It is essential that anyone practising in the Crown Court is able to join a Skype for Business meeting.

Magistrates’ Courts

With regards to virtual hearings in the Magistrates’ Courts, we have been informed that testing is still being carried out in various Courts including Croydon, Thames, Willesden and Bromley. There is no definitive timetable yet for roll out but HMCTS are aware of the urgency and working hard to achieve this.

Police Stations

We have received a very mixed picture since last Thursday with regards to the Met complying with the National Interview Protocol. Please do keep emailing us your feedback, making complaints to the relevant Inspectors at the time, keeping your own clear notes and recording complaints using The Law Society form: https://www.caseratio.co.uk/security/complaintform The first review meeting will be this Thursday and it is helpful to know the specific police stations either refusing to or failing to follow the protocol.

Other useful links:

We also draw your attention to The Law Society website which contains useful links to resources and advice covering a range of issues including issues facing those managing a firm, financial advice and a reiteration of the issues with those attending courts & police stations:
https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/advice/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-and-updates/

The latest update from the LAA can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-legal-aid-agency-contingency-response

This update covers:
• Suspending debt collection of firms who owe LAA money
• Extension of timescales to submit emergency certificate
• Further areas of work which accepting digital certificates
• Update to paying of fees at the face-to-face rate for video hearing
• Capturing furlough as part of client means assessment
• Extending the probation period for police station accredited representatives
• Suspension of a number of contribution arrangements

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