Earlier this year Mr. Justice Jordan has indicated that the Court will commence hearing a limited number and type of applications using remote technology (Pexip) and thereafter during the currency of the current pandemic restrictions. This has been just one of the many changes made in an industry renowned for its reticence to change.

The legal industry, like so many others, has been forced to evolve and adapt over the past twelve months and these developments have been embraced by the profession to ensure continuity of service provision to the public. From remote hearings to changes in the searing of oaths, amendments to use of technology to procedures of business litigation.

On Monday June 22nd, 2020 Nolan Farrell & Goff took part in its and possibly the South East’s, first virtual hearing. The Waterford firm was involved in a matter heard by the Court of Appeal in respect of a High Court personal injuries matter which was appealed.  The case was heard remotely where three Judges, practitioners and other parties took part from various locations.

Then in August the government ‘Oath reform’ proposal was one of a raft of reforms contained in the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2020 which outlined both temporary measures to help the courts during the coronavirus pandemic and long-term reforms of the justice system. Witnesses would no longer be required to swear before God or make an affirmation when filing affidavits. Affidavits are a way of swearing a statement of evidence outside court which saves the witness having to give live evidence. About 150,000 are filed every year, according to the Courts Service.

Instead, they will be able to make what will be known as a “statement of truth” and will face a maximum one-year prison term for breaking it.

Under the present system, witnesses must swear upon a Bible or other religious book before a solicitor or notary public that the contents of their affidavits are true. Reforms to this process to allow for remote swearing of documents on oath via video link are due to be introduced later this month.

Yet another legal reform is that any record in document form (unless privileged) compiled in the ordinary course of business will be presumed to be admissible as evidence of the truth of the facts asserted in the document where the document complies with the certain requirements and meets certain legal tests. This applies to copies of records where the original is not still in existence so long as the Court is satisfied with its reliability. It also applies to documents relating to businesses which are no longer in existence.

The legal industry, while forced to make some changes, has make significant reforms and changes to its work practices over the past twelve months. These should result in great efficiencies which are likely to reduce the overall costs of the delivery of legal services.

NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website www.nfg.ie, or email info@nfg.ie