CaseLines & Virtual Hearings: Frequently Asked Questions
It is quickly becoming standard to hold hearings remotely. At CaseLines we have been asked several questions around remote hearings and how they work. So we have complied a list of the most frequent questions and answers here.
If your question is not answered here please send it to us and we will add it to this resource: Send in a question
What is the role of CaseLines in a Virtual Hearing?
The role of CaseLines in a virtual hearing is to show evidence documents and videos to all participants. It is used in addition to video conferencing platforms such as Skype for Business, Zoom, Teams and CVP from HMCTS.
CaseLines: See and navigate the evidence in the case. Video Conferencing: See and hear the people in the virtual court room and record the hearing.
When you send the Judge or a party a link to a CaseLines case, it replaces handing over a set of paper bundles, sending paginated PDFs by email attachment or uploading PDFs to an e-Filing portal. When the CaseLines link is sent, the Judge and parties can see the evidence on their screen using an internet browser.
This is the preferred method for many jurisdictions.
Here is how it works in the context of the virtual court room: CaseLines Overview
Why not just create a single PDF containing all the evidence and send that by email or load it into the court e-Filing system?
We are hearing reports that this approach is proving difficult and unsustainable. Here are some examples:
- My PDFs are too large to send by email or upload to an e-Filing system, but splitting PDF’s feels insecure and is time consuming
- When I reduce the size of the PDF by filleting evidence the hearing is delayed as documents need to be added mid-hearing, requiring new PDFs to be sent or the original to be updated.
- I have too many PDFs and it becomes unclear which PDFs are full replacements for the bundle or late arriving additions.
- It takes me too long time to create the index, hyperlink it to the documents and apply pagination, even when I use tools like Adobe Acrobat. Soon I will end up as an Adobe Operator.
- I am not always reviewing the same PDF version as another person, and our pagination is out of sync.
- Searching a large PDF is cumbersome and often fails if individual pages are not searchable.
- I spend too much time scrolling up and down the PDF to find a page.
- I am concerned about the security of the data I am sharing via email.
- I am finding it difficult to direct parties to a particular document when they are spread over more than one PDF
I am being told that I must load a PDF of the evidence to the court e-Filing system. How does that work with CaseLines?
Caselines has a facility called eBridge. This allows you to download a one-page PDF from CaseLines that contains the link to the CaseLines e-bundle. You load that one-page PDF to the court e-Filing system. The link in the PDF always takes an authorised user to the latest version of the evidence.
You can also download the fully indexed and paginated complete PDF from CaseLines if required provided you have been granted the permission to do this.
How does the Judge interact with evidence through CaseLines?
The judge waits for the party that is preparing the evidence bundle to send the judge a link by email. When that link arrives, the judge clicks on the link and is able to view the evidence in their internet browser
If the judge is clicking on the link for the first time, he or she follows a simple and secure registration process.
During the hearing, the presenting party can direct the judge to a page automatically, and the required page appears on the judge’s screen.
How does CaseLines work with the video conferencing facility?
CaseLines is opened separately to the video conferencing facility, sometimes on a second screen or on a second PC or tablet. The presenting party can place a link to the case in the video conference chat room, which opens directly into CaseLines on a separate browser to the video conferencing facility.
What size of case is suitable for this approach?
This approach is suitable for both the largest cases and the smallest. For example, this approach has been used for major cases with 130,000 pages of evidence and over 200 people representing 30 different parties, with constant daily updates to the evidence bundles. At the same time, this approach is also used today for all criminal cases today in England & Wales where the average size of case is approximately 300 pages. In the criminal courts CaseLines is called “DCS”.
What type of hearing is suitable for this approach?
CaseLines is suitable and has been used for virtual hearings of all types, including custody applications, case management conferences, interim motions and applications all the way to full trials. CaseLines is easy to operate and requires no operator so it is both a cost effective and a practical solution to sharing evidence with court and other lawyers even when only a few documents are needed. CaseLines provides the necessary evidence review tools to support video or tele-conferences, enabling everyone to see the same evidence at the same time.
How do other parties receive the evidence?
Other parties receive evidence in the same way as the judge. Each person registers on the CaseLines system and then clicks on the link they receive from the preparing party. If they have access to more than one case, they will see a case list from which they can select the case they need to review.
Can I create a reduced bundle for expert witnesses?
Yes, CaseLines allows you to create a sub-bundle which contains a reduced set of evidence, taken from the main ‘Master Bundle’. Your expert witness is then invited specifically into the sub-bundle and can use CaseLines in the normal way, albeit with a restricted set of evidence.
What about indexes and pagination, how does that work?
The indexes for the evidence and the pagination numbering for all the evidence are created automatically, so there is no need to manually construct an index or apply pagination numbering. Alternative pagination schemes can be chosen. The index is based on the names of the files that are uploaded and the individual index entries can be modified and re-ordered after the files have been uploaded.
I have video files that I want to show in the virtual hearing. How do I do that?
You load video and audio files into the CaseLines case. They are watched using the internet browser on each participant’s machine, in the CaseLines case.
Can I make notes on the documents in CaseLines?
The Judge and parties add private or shared notes using the CaseLines notes facility. The notes stay securely in place when new documents or videos are added to the case. Widely shared notes can be used to progress issues outside of a specific hearing if appropriate.
What happens when a new document or video is needed in the evidence?
The new document or video is uploaded to the CaseLines case and is then available to all those with access to the case. There is no requirement to send out the document or video by email or upload it to an e-Filing system, nor to print it or burn a DVD or create a memory stick.
How do other parties submit evidence to the bundle?
The normal approach is for the preparing party (typically the applicant) to upload all material into the bundle including material from other parties. Material from other parties is sent to the preparing party by email, drop box or similar. Following upload by the preparing party, the result is verified by the other party by reviewing the evidence in the CaseLines case.
In some matters the preparing party gives time-limited permission to another party to upload evidence directly into one or more sections.
What is the best technical set-up for an individual in a virtual hearing using CaseLines?
Each individual in the remote hearing needs the following:
- A reasonably good internet connection.
- Two screens. These can be on one PC or ideally on two different devices. For example, you could use a PC for accessing the video platform for the hearing and sharing a clean copy of the bundle via screen share and a second to view your version of the bundle with any notes visible. The CaseLines help desk can advise on the best approach.
I want to sign up to use CaseLines what do I need to do?
At CaseLines we support both annual contracts and Pay as You Go (PAYG) arrangements. Please click here to register your interest and we will contact you to discuss your requirements