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Legal first as judge rules on court case via telephone

The hearing was on public court listings but no lawyers and no litigants were in the court room (stock photo)
The hearing was on public court listings but no lawyers and no litigants were in the court room (stock photo)

By Brian Farmer, PA

One of England's most senior judges has overseen a public court hearing over the telephone.

Sir Andrew McFarlane sat on the judge's bench in Court 33 of the Royal Courts of Justice in London with a telephone in front of him.

He had a conference call conversation with two litigants - a man in Israel and a woman in England - for the best part of an hour. At one point the judge lost the connection to the woman in England.

The hearing was on public court listings but no lawyers and no litigants were in the court room.

A member of court staff and two journalists were at the hearing, and at one stage a group of tourists walked in and sat on the public benches.

The hearing was staged in the Court of Protection, a specialist court in which issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions are considered.

Sir Andrew said he had been asked to make decisions relating to the welfare of a woman with learning disabilities.

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