Principles for Remote Advocacy

The ICCA is delighted to publish ‘Principles for Remote Advocacy’.

The COVID-19 epidemic has forced courts and advocates to adapt at pace. Fortunately, we already have some experience to draw on. In civil and criminal courts, “paperless” working has already been taking place, so that advocates have begun to learn some of its challenges. In other areas such as arbitration and international litigation, there is already experience of remote hearings and cross-examination of distant witnesses by video. Courts and advocates have been building on these experiences, and rapidly gaining experience of the skills required to deal effectively with remote hearings.

Our Principles for Remote Advocacy do not offer advice on the choice or use of different IT programs. In many cases the choice will have been imposed upon the advocate. The principal systems currently in use are Zoom and Skype for Business. Information on these programs is abundantly available.

Our guide concentrates on the way in which advocates can most efficiently deploy their professional skills in communication and persuasion in the new working environment. It aims to distil existing experience into a set of principles that we hope will enable everyone to approach a remote hearing with confidence and do their job effectively.

Judges and advocates who already have experience with this practice consistently remark that effective remote advocacy depends not on new skills. It rewards the bedrock skills; a clearly articulated and logical case, supported by selective use of authority and documents, and focussed examination of witnesses. With careful preparation and attention to those core skills, it is possible to make remote hearings, in appropriate cases, highly effective. We hope these principles will help you do that.

The ICCA gratefully acknowledges the helpful commentary and guidance it has received, in preparing this document, from Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Bean, His Honour Judge Mark Brown, Rt. Hon. Sir Stanley Burnton, Professor the Hon. Clyde Croft AO SC, Neil Kaplan CBE QC, and individual members of the Bar of England and Wales.


Read the guide