Top tips - Dubai: What is the best way to present your case using the technology available during this time of global pandemic?
Most of us are still working from home regularly as part of the aftermath of the Covid-19 restrictions and as a result, remote hearings have become a way of life for now at least.
a) Co-operate with opposing Counsel. Parties should pro-actively co-operate with one another and seek to agree practical considerations for hearings. Parties should focus on agreeing as much as possible in advance of a hearing (e.g. on procedural matters) so as to narrow the areas of dispute and the length of a remote hearing. Parties should cooperate with and help each other as that will help the Tribunal or Judge.
b) Keep bundles electronic, as brief as possible and searchable. Having hearing bundles that run into multiple hard copy volumes and are not easy to navigate, will slow the hearing down and it will not be possible to hand up any pages that are missing (not that any pages should be missing...) Having a single electronic bundle will avoid this. It will also be easier to navigate and, if put into a searchable form, it will be easier to find key documents quickly.
c) Slow down, do not interrupt and use mute. This is obvious but worth saying. It can be harder to present your case over video or the telephone than in person. Slow down and allow for delays on the line. Keeping the hearing as brief as possible and allowing for regular breaks also helps. Do not interrupt your opponent as that is a basic courtesy. Use mute so as to avoid papers rustling in the background interrupting matters.
d) Have a trial run. Consider having a trial run prior to the hearing date with the Court/ Arbitration Centre's proposed technology in order to avoid any unnecessary delays on the day of the hearing and to ensure everyone is familiar with the technology.
e) Communication within your team during the hearing. Clearly circulating notes and instructions between the team is not possible when you are not in the same room. SMS, WhatsApp and email are fine substitutes.
f) Resist the temptation to take advantage. Parties should resist the temptation to take advantage of the present circumstances. In light of the growing body of evidence as to the efficacy of remote hearings and trials, applications to adjourn or otherwise delay are unlikely to be well received if the sole basis for that application is a resistance to a hearing taking place remotely.