Gayle appeared before Lieven J for a local authority in Re SX (A Child)  EWHC 1086 (Fam);  All ER (D) 36 (May), lead by Nick Goodwin QC, on an application for a care order. Medical evidence, related to the death of a 2 month old baby who suffered 65 fractures and head injuries, was taken remotely, but an issue arose as to whether to proceed to hear parental and lay witness evidence remotely. Lieven J encapsulated the issue, in paragraph 1 of her judgment:
'This judgment concerns the decision as to whether to proceed with the lay evidence in this case remotely or whether to adjourn the case having heard the medical evidence. I have heard five days of medical evidence remotely through the Zoom platform and, as is explained in more detail below, I adjourned the trial at that point to hear submissions as to whether the hearing should continue with evidence from the parents and other lay witnesses via Zoom. An issue then arose as to the Father's mental health and, ultimately he asked for an adjournment on the grounds of ill-health rather than specifically the remote hearing aspect of the case. I will deal with that adjournment application later in the judgment.'
High Court (Family Division) held that it was appropriate to continue with the case remotely (through the Zoom platform), and not to adjourn it by reason of the remote hearing or the father's mental state. In principle, factfinding could be undertaken remotely and in the present case the technology was capable of providing a fair and satisfactory hearing.
The hearing took place on 15 April 2020. Judgment was deemed to be handed down on 5 May 2020. The case remains ongoing.
Gayle was lead by Nick Goodwin QC and instructed by a Local Authority.
The Judgment can be read here.