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The Supreme Court of St Helena was able to reduce time-to-trial and cost by using court video link services from video bridging specialist World Video Link. The St. Helena Supreme Court is responsible for trials of the more serious cases in St Helena, the sentencing of offenders committed for sentence by the Magistrates’ Court and appeals from the Magistrates’ Court.
Being situated in the South Atlantic, the island of St Helena is, by its own admission, somewhat isolated. Waiting times for persons committed by magistrates for trial in the St. Helena Supreme Court can vary from a few weeks to several months. This is as costly as it is undesirable.
A murder trial requiring the testimony of individual witnesses from both South Africa and the UK therefore posed a challenge to the Supreme Court. Travel time and availability would have meant witnesses spending up to a month away at the court’s expense.
The court wished to minimise both the cost of the trial and the inconvenience to witnesses, leading them to approach World Video Link for a Court Video conferencing services.
The service needed to supply a high quality court video link that would not distract from the specifics of the trial, nor give rise to any objection to the process of the trial. This was achieved by using a combination of ISDN and IP connectivity, provided as a fully managed multipoint videoconference, during which evidence was successfully taken from all parties.
The service also needed to minimise the need for technical expertise within the court itself. World Video Link were responsible for the set-up, testing and management of all equipment involved in the trial, as well as managing the schedule and connection as each witness was called. Prior to selecting the video service, tests were conducted by World Video Link between St Helena, the UK and South Africa locations to enable all parties to assess the quality of the Court video link. Following these assessments, it was decided that World Video Link would provide the court video link to ensure impeccable service.
By adopting World Video Link's managed court videoconferencing services, The Supreme Court of St Helena was able to reduce the time required to take evidence from months to days. At the same time the management of the service reduced the need for technical know-how within the court to a manageable level. Both of which provided cost benefits, whilst achieving the requirement to maintain the due process of law.
Judy Lawrence, Legal Officer, The Supreme Court of St Helena – “It was a first for our court and because of our isolation, had the witnesses been required to come to St. Helena they would have had to be away from the UK for at least a month! World Video Link enabled the witness evidence to be taken within days”.
“We were extremely satisfied with the service provided by World Video Link. We needed a reliable, managed connection with technical assistance as and when we needed it which was exactly what we received from World Video Link, the service was excellent”
Case Study: Murder Trial via
Video conferencing in St Helena