Appeal hearings over the Internet will be a reality from the 4th May, as no ordinary hearings will be held in the Appeal Court in Bloemfontein in May.
Appellate judges dressed in their gowns will sit in front of the camera in their own study rooms, and arguments from advocates, including in their court attire, will present their arguments before the judges, while everyone can see and hear each other.
The courthouse will still be open on weekdays to complete essential administrative work. However, no ordinary appeal hearings will be heard there in May.
According to instructions issued by Appeal Judge Mandisa Maya, President of the Court of Appeal on Friday afternoon, web-based video facilities are being made available to hold such hearings at a distance.
This measure was put in place because of the state of restriction to avoid contact between people as far as possible, and also because the restriction makes it difficult for legal representatives from other provinces to travel to Bloemfontein.
Parties also have the choice that the hearing can be conducted in chambers without any oral argument. Those who so choose may, within seven days of agreeing, and with the consent of the presiding judge, submit additional heads of argument not exceeding 10 pages.
If either party considers that oral arguments in court are indispensable, they must notify the registrar of the appellate court in writing and state the reasons for the request.
The presiding appellate judge will then decide on it, and whether it is necessary to postpone the hearing for an indefinite period until after the time limit, Maya says.