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Planning Court Hears Case Via Skype Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

On 24 March 2020, Harry Campbell of Harrison Grant (who transferred its practice to Hodge Jones & Allen on 1 May 2022) participated in one of the first remote substantive judicial review hearings in the Planning Court in the case of R (Lochailort Investments Limited) v Mendip District Council.

The case was due to be heard in the Royal Courts of Justice, but in light of the recent Government guidance issued in response to the Covid-19 crisis, the decision was taken that the hearing would proceed as an audio hearing over “Skype for Business” before Lang J.

Remote court hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic

The parties and the court staff worked together to test the technology the day before the hearing. Six people dialled into the hearing, all of whom were participating from different places and the technology worked well. The experience underscores how the courts can respond in these challenging times to remain open for business and ensure that the administration of justice is not brought to a halt.

The judiciary issued guidance – Civil Justice In England and Wales Protocol Regarding Remote Hearings – for the conduct of remote hearings.

Harry Campbell acted for the Claimant, Lochailort Investments Ltd. Richard Ground and Ben Du Feu of Cornerstone Barristers were instructed. The case concerned the proper approach to the allocation of local green space in development plans, in this case a Neighbourhood Plan. Judgment was reserved.