Virtual Court Hearing Etiquettes for Lawyers

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Opatola Victor Legal Implication

Just recently, I was privileged to be one of the first crop of Lawyers  to participate in the historic online Court proceedings in Nigeria. It was quite an experience and an interesting one too considering the fact that it went smoothly without hitches; contrary to the many false narratives perpetuated in the media against the online Court proceedings. Needless for me to say that even if the proceedings were as bad as painted by these categories of people, one would have expected some credit as it is a natural fact that every exercise gets better with constant and consistent practice. But the proceedings exceeded expectation and to my mind would continue to get better.

Change, positive or negative is the only constant thing and must be embraced and adopted objectively. Having been privileged to participate in the very first online court proceeding in Nigeria, below are certain etiquettes that I believe should be observed by Lawyers and participants in an online court proceeding. Abiding by these etiquettes will go a long way in ensuring a hitch free court proceeding.

  1. Download the zoom or online application.
  2. Carry out a simulation on the use of Zoom to test your video and audio before the time and date fixed for your online court proceedings. Carrying out the test before your proceeding will ensure that you do not become like a bull in China shop during the proceeding.   If the proceeding is by zoom, you can carry out your simulation through www.zoom.us/test
  3. Position your Camera rightly, considering light, distractions and noise. Although the proceedings are done online, you are still expected to maintain a certain degree of decorum.
  4. Ensure that you have enough data to last throughout the proceeding. There are very little things as bad as your network telling you that you have exhausted your data in the middle of an online Court proceedings. If possible subscribe to unlimited data services from data providers who have the services.
  5. Ensure that you have a stable internet connection.
  6. Ensure that you have your zoom meeting I.D and/or password  before the time fixed for hearing.
  7. Be sure to join the Online Court Proceedings at least 5 minutes before the time scheduled.
  8. Always mention your name every time you are addressing the Court .
  9. Online conference meeting drain device battery very fast. Ensure you have a back up power plan.
  10. Put up your picture on your profile.
  11. Include your name on your profile and the name of your case, and signify if you appear for the defendant or claimant.
  12. Upon joining the Online Court proceedings, check the other participants in the proceedings. Ensure you see their names and faces.
  13. Check that your audio is unmute each time you have to address the court. The mute and unmute signal are the appearance and non appearance of a red diagonal line showing over your device microphone symbol. When your audio is mute you can hear the other participants but you cannot be heard by them. Always mute your phone everytime you are not addressing the court.
  14. Make sure to appear fully robed.
  15. You can use external audio aid or earpiece.
  16. To show all the participants any document on your phone or device, click on shared screen and upload your document and when you are done, end your by clicking on the shared screen icon.
  17. Make sure you have the Court registrars number on standby incase you run into any difficulty and you need him/her to draw the attention of the Court.
  18. Leave the online proceeding immediately you are done.

Opatola Victor Esq. adeopatola@gmail.com 09041815408 , 07069687425

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