Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020

Remote hearings by designated body

31. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the enactment concerned, but subject to subsections (2) and (5), a provision of an enactment relating to the holding by a designated body of a hearing shall apply subject to the following modifications and any other necessary modifications:

(a) a reference to the holding of a hearing shall be construed as a reference to the holding of such a hearing by remote hearing;

(b) a reference to a person being required to attend in person before the designated body shall be construed as a reference to the person being required to participate by remote hearing in a hearing;

(c) a reference to a person being required to produce a document to a designated body shall be construed as a reference to the person being required to send by post, transmit by electronic means or otherwise deliver the document to the designated body;

(d) the designated body shall be deemed to have the power to make such arrangements, and to adopt such practice and procedures, as are necessary to enable the conduct of a hearing by remote hearing.

(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply in respect of a particular hearing where the designated body concerned, of its own volition, or following the making of representations by a person concerned, is of the opinion that the application of the subsection to the hearing would be unfair to the person, or would otherwise be contrary to the interests of justice.

(3) A relevant Minister may, by order, designate a body for the purposes of this section, where he or she is satisfied that it is appropriate to do so having regard to the—

(a) provisions of the enactment governing the conduct by the body of hearings,

(b) nature of the hearings conducted by the body, and

(c) need to ensure efficiency in the conduct of hearings under the enactment.

(4) Where more than one Minister of the Government is a relevant Minister in relation to a particular body, a relevant Minister, before making an order under subsection (3) in respect of the body, shall consult with all other relevant Ministers in relation to the body.

(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed as operating to interfere with the power of a body under an enactment or rule of law to hold hearings before it by remote hearing.

(6) In this section—

“body” means a body established by or under an enactment, or a body or person empowered under an enactment to hold a hearing for any purpose;

“designated body” means a body designated under subsection (3);

“electronic communications technology”, in relation to a hearing, means technology that enables real time transmission and real time two-way audio-visual or audio communication, enabling a person to participate in the hearing although not in the same place as another participant;

“hearing” includes a part of a hearing and the hearing of an appeal or part of an appeal;

“participant” in relation to a hearing, includes the designated body that is holding the hearing;

“relevant Minister” means, in relation to a body, the Minister of the Government with responsibility for the body and in whom functions, whether statutory or otherwise, as respects the body are vested;

“remote hearing” means a hearing in which—

(a) the participants are not all in the one place, and

(b) one or more of the participants participate in the hearing by means of electronic communications technology.