According to www.usatoday.com “The Supreme Court of the United States next week begins hearing oral arguments over the phone – a small step for social distancing, but a giant leap for the justices.
For decades, the court has ignored most of the technological and transparency advancements adopted by other branches of government. Even as lower federal and state courts began live-streaming and broadcasting sessions for public consumption, the highest court in the land remained cloistered.”
In comparison to the courts in Nigeria, the courts in the United States are way ahead in the adoption of technology. Despite the high rate of adoption of technology in the US, one court that has strongly resisted the use of technology surprisingly is its Supreme Court.
Cameras in the court? “Over my dead body,” former Associate Justice David Souter once said. This statement captures the strong resistance to the adoption of technology by the apex court.
Resistance to change and the adoption of technology isn’t a thing peculiar to Nigeria. The adoption of technology in courts has met with various levels of resistance and acceptance from court to court and from country to country.
The COVID – 19 pandemics has brought a lot of changes to courts and to lawyers worldwide. This has led to the setting up of a collaborative platform by Professor Richard Susskind of the UK to aggregate the experiences of different courts in different countries in their efforts to operate their courts online.
Remote Courts Worldwide, [https://remotecourts.org/news.htm] spearheaded by Professor Richard Susskind is an initiative backed by the UK government. It is a platform that has been launched to allow different countries to share their experiences as they try to ensure that courts keep running during the lockdown.
The platform allows judges, lawyers, officials, litigants and court technologies to share best practice on the use of remote alternatives to traditional court hearings. Making use of audio, video and other ways to ensure sittings take place, different solutions are being deployed by different countries as in-person appearances and face to face court sittings cannot take place as they have traditionally.
Countries that have resisted changes have now started looking for alternatives to the traditional hearings.
Recently Bauchi state launched its own virtual court while the NJC set up a committee to determine strategies to allow courts to continue to operate in the midst of the pandemic in Nigeria.
Many people have welcomed developments of this kind worldwide, as much needed in a time like this and beyond. How far and how well the changes will be implemented is something we will have to wait and see especially beyond the pandemic.
Law firms in Nigeria have also been affected in varying degrees by the pandemic and have had to adapt to the challenges of keeping their businesses running in the midst of the lockdown and the need to maintain social distancing rules.
Running a virtual office involves careful planning and implementation. If you need help with setting up your virtual office, talk to us – [email protected].
To read the USA Today article titled, “Supreme Court makes historic change to hear oral arguments over the phone and stream them live,” click here: https://bit.ly/2xFbN1G