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Civil Team: Updated Guidance and Online Dispute Resolution – summarised by Kate Wilson

The resident DCJ for each court centre on the North-Eastern Circuit has recently issued Guidance for the types of cases which it will continue to hear, the requirements for electronic bundles and directions for hearings proceeding by Skype for Business or BT MeetMe. Whilst similar, the guidance varies between each court centre particularly regarding electronic bundles. Members of the Civil Team are able to provide help and assistance with the contents of electronic bundles, where necessary.

An updated list of the relevant guidance can be found here.

Jonathan Holsgrove’s helpful summary of the guidance across the North Eastern Circuit can be found here.

Park Square Barristers Civil Team are conducting hearings, conferences and Joint Settlement meetings using Skype for Business, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. For any clerking enquiries please contact Francine Kirk, Andy Reeves or Josh Duree or email

Our experienced team of 58 barristers are familiar with the newly released Practice Directions, requirements of the Hearing and Listing Protocols and are proactively engaging with the courts, our opponents, lay and professional clients to ensure hearings, conferences and Joint Settlement Meetings can remain effective and secure the best results for our clients.

At Park Square Barristers we pride ourselves on being progressive, and this continues during this time. On one of the first days of lockdown Matthew Smith took part in one of the first Skype for Business Appeal Hearings before the DCJ of Leeds, HHJ Gosnell. The hearing went well and both parties were able to make all their submissions to the Judge and a full and recorded judgment was given.

The key to this was preparation and Matthew provides the following tips for a successful video hearing:

1. Obtaining the brief 2 weeks in advance.

2. Obtaining opposing Counsel’s email 2 weeks in advance.

3. Having a telephone conference 1 week in advance with instructing solicitor and any witnesses to check they all have the Skype for Business software on their device (phone, tablet or laptop), e-bundles or hard bundles and email addresses to send to the Court so the Court can email everyone an invite for the Skype for Business meeting.

4. Obtaining an email Skype for Business invite from the Court at least 3 days in advance. This is key and is easy once you know how: the Courts are more willing to hand out e-mail addresses for the Judge; one of the Advocates should email the Judge copying in everyone else including witnesses; the Judge will then respond with an email invite for Skype for Business.

5. As long as your device has the Skype for Business software on it (you do not need an account) then once the invite from the Court comes through you click on it and are connected.

For a brief summary of which courts remain open and for which business on the Northern and North Eastern Circuit, click here

Mediation & Online Dispute Resolution 

Across all jurisdictions, there is likely to be an opportunity now more than ever to explore alternative avenues of dispute resolution. Many cases are being adjourned as a matter of course and parties are now finding that the end is no longer in sight. Perhaps worst of all, it is unknown how long the current situation will last.

We have an experienced team of alternative dispute resolution practitioners and a number of deputy district judges, Recorders (Civil and Family) and a Deputy High Court Judge able to apply their judicial experience in civil, commercial, family, healthcare, regulatory and criminal cases across the whole range of complexities and values.

For further information, please contact our Mediation and Online Dispute Resolution Clerk Andy Reeves.