Use of Live Television Link in Civil Proceedings in the District Court
Practice Direction for the use of Live Television Link
in Civil Proceedings in the Dublin Metropolitan District Court
- This Practice Direction shall come into effect on 19th May 2020 in respect of child care and family law proceedings as specified herein.
- This Practice Direction deals with live television link (“LTL”) only and is therefore without prejudice to any existing practice direction(s) providing for the conduct of childcare or family law proceedings generally.
- This Practice Direction must be read in conjunction with section 25 of the Domestic Violence Act 2018, section 26 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 (“the 2008 Act”), section 21 of the Children Act 1997, and the District Court Rules 2005 as amended.
- To utilise LTL technology within the modern court environment to expand efficiency and effectiveness in specified civil proceedings by improving access to the court system, obviating the need for unnecessary travel and saving costs, but without compromising the constitutional and legal rights of the parties to the proceedings or the best interests and welfare of children or young persons the subject of such proceedings.
Proceedings to which this direction applies
- This direction applies to childcare and family law proceedings in which the parties are legally represented (and in childcare proceedings where a guardian ad litem is appointed) and the court is of the opinion that the use of LTL technology would not give rise to unfairness to the parties or would otherwise be contrary to the interests of justice.
- This direction does not prohibit unrepresented parties in family law or childcare matters or other parties in other civil matters from applying to have evidence heard LTL. Such applications will be heard and determined by the court in accordance with the law.
Initiating the LTL procedure
- The court may, of its own motion or on the application of any of the parties, and having heard the parties, direct that a party may participate in any hearing in the proceedings, or that a witness may give evidence in any such hearing, from a location other than the court itself, whether from within or outside the State, by means of a LTL.
- Applications for liberty to hear evidence by way of LTL should be made to the court not less than 21 days prior to the date on which it is intended to hear evidence in the proceedings.
- The court will not grant such direction unless facilities are available that enable the party or witness:
- to see and hear the proceedings at the hearing, and
- to be seen and heard by those present in the courtroom in which the hearing is taking place.
- Notwithstanding that the LTL technology is available the court will not direct its use if:
- It would be unfair to any of the parties to do so, or
- It would otherwise be contrary to the interests of justice to do so.
Undertaking by solicitor
- Before a direction is granted the solicitor for the party seeking to call the witness(es) by LTL is required undertake (in writing or orally) to the court to do the following:
- Participate fully in any required test calls to the remote location;
- Provide the registrar with any necessary technical information in relation to the remote location;
- Ensure that the witness at the remote location is provided with all necessary documents; and
- Ensure that the appropriate sacred text for taking the oath prior to giving testimony is available to the witness at the remote location.
Transfer of proceedings
- Practitioners should note that a successful application to hear evidence using LTL may give rise to a need to transfer proceedings to a courtroom containing the required equipment in at a court having jurisdiction to hear and dispose of the proceedings.
- If a direction for the use of LTL is granted the party or witness concerned shall be deemed to be present at the hearing concerned.
Proceedings pursuant to the 2018 Act
- In civil proceedings pursuant to the 2018 Act, a person (other than the respondent) may give evidence through a LTL where they have not attained the age of 18 years (unless the court sees good reason to the contrary) and in any other case, with the leave of the court.
- All evidence given by LTL in civil proceedings pursuant to the provisions of the 2018 Act shall be audio and video recorded.
- Where LTL facilities are not in operation in a district court district and in the opinion of the court concerned it is desirable that the evidence in the proceedings be given through LTL, the court may order the transfer of the proceedings to a district where the facilities are in operation. The proceedings may be heard by a judge for the time being assigned to the district to which the proceedings have been transferred.
- Notwithstanding the use of LTL at a location(s) remote from the courtroom, the proceedings shall be heard in private and only officers of the court, the parties and their legal representatives, witnesses and such other persons as the judge may allow, shall be permitted to be present in the courtroom or at the remote location(s). The judge may order any witness who is not a party to leave the courtroom or the remote location(s) until their evidence is required or after their evidence is complete.
Direct participation and/or representation of the child
- Where a request is made by a child to be present during the hearing, or a particular part of the hearing of the proceedings, such request must be brought to the attention of the court. The court will grant the request unless it appears to the court that, having regard to the age of the child or the nature of the proceedings, it would not be in the child’s best interests to accede to the request.
- Pursuant to section 26(1) of the 2008 Act, the court may direct that the child may be present by means of LTL.
Listing of case for hearing by LTL
- At least 14 days prior to the hearing it must be confirmed to the court that:
- there has been full compliance with any or all case management directions,
- the LTL is available and in good working order,
- the undertakings given by the solicitor have been complied with.
- In order to ensure efficiency, the court recommends that all parties electronically file all reports and relevant documentation and that the parties must advise the court of the names of witnesses and their professional qualifications and the number and availability of witnesses required for cross-examination.
- Each party must inform the court of any matter which might delay or prolong the hearing and provide the court with a realistic schedule for the hearing of the proceedings so that the court can allocate the requisite time necessary to endeavour to ensure that the hearing is concluded within the specified period.