Help with technical problems
If you have problems with sorting out the technology to take part you can get help by calling the HMCTS national helpline on 0330 8089405 -
Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5pm
Friday, 9am to 4pm
Saturday and bank holidays, 8am to 2pm
It is really important to call this number as soon as possible if you come across any technical problems so they can be sorted out quickly.
Make sure you are ready at least 20 minutes before the hearing is due to start.
Ideally, you need to find a quiet and private space to be in for the whole hearing. Wherever you are, the most important thing is that you cannot be overheard and you will not be disturbed. It is likely that the judge or magistrate will ask you to confirm you are in a quiet private space.
If you have children you will need to arrange childcare, if you possibly can. If you have pets try to make sure they can’t disturb you either!
For a phone hearing:
- make sure your phone is charged,
- you are in the place in your home with the best reception,
- if you have headphones, try using them as then your hands will be free to take notes and go through your notes.
For a video hearing:
- make sure your smart phone, tablet or computer is charged or plugged in,
- you have good internet connection,
- make sure you have Google Chrome on your device,
- wear something clean and tidy,
- make sure your face can be seen well on the screen by having a light or window in front of you, not behind you.
You may well need to take notes so remember to have paper and pens and something to write at - a desk or table.
If you have been sent the court bundle - a file of documents about the case - you will need this near you so you can look at it during the hearing. You might have this in a hard copy, sent by post or you may be sent an electronic version. If you have another device that you are not using for the hearing that you can see the electronic bundle on, that will help a lot during the hearing. Or, if you are able to access a printer, see if you can print the bundle. If you are joining by phone and you can only see the electronic bundle on your phone, use headphones if you have any, so that you can look at your phone as well as listen to the hearing. If you are not able to look at the documents being talked about, make sure you tell the judge.
To join the hearing by video you need to follow the instructions you have received from the court by email. You will be held in a virtual waiting room until everyone who is taking part is ready then the hearing will start by the judge introducing themselves and explaining how the hearing will be run.
If you are joining by phone the court will usually call you - this may be from a withheld number. If you have to call in yourself it will say this in the instructions for the hearing.
Sometimes hearings take longer than expected which might mean you are not contacted at the start time. The court do try to let you know this but it doesn’t always happen. Be prepared to wait for the start of the hearing and also, leave extra time after in case it goes on longer.
If you don’t hear from the court shortly after the time your hearing is meant to start, do call the court. It is important to understand that if you are not ‘at’ the hearing the court can make decisions about your case, without you, that could be very difficult to challenge later. So, for this reason, make sure you chase up the court if you aren’t contacted or can’t join the hearing after 10 - 15 minutes.