Since we are now living in a pandemic, most of our activities are restricted to the standard operational procedures or SOP that has been stated by the government. That includes the arbitration hearing process from the start. One of the most crucial stages in an arbitral process is the hearing. Even before the pandemic, arbitration proceedings were well ahead of the rest of the profession in using virtual and hybrid technologies as a more efficient method of settling international disputes.
Hybrid hearings are a bit different from virtual hearings because virtual hearings are fully conducted from two different places such as both parties’ meeting rooms at their offices. Unlike virtual or remote hearing, hybrid hearing will be conducted with the Judge will always be physically present in the courtroom or any arbitration centre. The parties, their legal representatives, or witnesses can all be physically present in the courtroom at the same time. Everyone else will watch the hearing from afar; virtually from their own place.
These are some tips for the legal team in order to have better hybrid hearing experience:
1. Conduct a rehearsal before the real hearing
Using technology especially for the first time will actually be quite hard for some people. Problems with internet connection and faulty gadgets of devices will be the main problem for hybrid and remote hearing. Everyone in the room must be able to hear and see each other. This is also a time to teach participants on fundamental functions like muting and unmuting, joining and leaving the call, turning on and off the camera, screen sharing, and so on.
2. Know where to have instant messages during the hearing
As the hearing progresses, members of legal teams require an effective means of communicating discreetly among themselves. Ideally, the chat capabilities will be included into the hearing solution; however, third-party applications such as WhatsApp, Skype, or Slack may be utilized. These are usually not as important for hybrid hearing because all important people for the hearing must be at the arbitration place. But it can be useful if some might not be able to be present due to any problems.
3. Make sure the screen sharing is visible to all
During hybrid hearing, the audience or spectators will not be at the venue which means they are not able to see everything that is happening at that place. So, when it is time to show evidence or anything that should be shown on screen, you will have to use the screen sharing feature on the chosen hearing platform. Make sure that it is visible for everyone.
In both virtual and hybrid hearings, you must prepare your facts and expert witnesses to ensure they have the necessary technology and atmosphere to testify. It makes the proceeding process easier and runs smoothly. If you are having virtual or remote hearing, make sure that the background you are using is neutral and not distracting. If your legal team has one specific background picture, use it as it portrays your professionalism in some way.