Videoconferencing cuts cost of international court cases

The courts are about to make wider use of videoconferencing in international trials.

The courts are about to make wider use of videoconferencing in international trials.

Pravin Jeyaraj.

BT has set up a video link to allow witnesses in North America, South America and Australasia to give evidence in an ongoing fraud trial at Southwark Crown Court in London.

The witnesses are giving evidence in the case of Dimitri Padelis, who has been accused of cheating various NHS trusts on payments.

The cost of the link-up has saved the Crown Prosecution Service thousands of pounds because witnesses did not need to be flown in and put up in hotels.

The system - developed by US company PictureTel - uses ISDN-based transmission technology to guarantee reliable links.

Ian Magee, chief executive of The Courts Service, says the video link is just the first step in using technology "to bring about the speedier administration of justice, reduced costs and a better service to victims, witnesses and jurors".

It is only the second time videoconferencing has been used in this way. Last year, an overseas witness was able to testify using a video link because he was too ill to attend court in person.

But for the time being, with the exception of child witnesses testifying in paedophile cases, there is no legislation to allow witnesses in the UK to give evidence in this way.



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