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Lawyers throughout the country may be able to make applications to the Queen's Bench by video conference if a pilot scheme is successful.
Under a scheme designed to save expensive and time-consuming trips to court, lawyers on the Northern Circuit will soon be able to make applications to Queen's Bench Masters by video conference. If successful the service may be extended nationwide.
The pilot project, which is being funded by the Bar Council, is due to run from 1 February to 26 March 1997.
Robert Turner, Senior Master of the Queen's Bench Division, said that apart from a few procedural requirements, the hearings would be no different from normal with "the same terse comments from the Masters, the quick flow of argument from the advocates and the immediate decision for which these hearings are known".
He added: "If it proves a success, then solicitors throughout the country will be on a par with those in London and applications to QB Masters will be no more time-consuming or expensive than for those whose practices are in London."
The hearings will take place at video conference suites in Chancery Lane, London, and in 8 King Street Chambers, Manchester. Details and application forms are available from the Masters' Secretary at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.