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The EU project “Pravo-Justice” prepared the rating of videoconferencing programs in the judiciary

13.05.2020
Judiciary /
Judiciary and Status of Judges

Event

On May 12, the EU project “Pravo-Justice” published a study “Comparative Analysis of Video Conferencing Systems”, which evaluated four systems – EasyCon, Zoom, Skype Meet Now and Cisco Webex, which are used or can be used for holding court sessions in a videoconference regime with the parties participating outside the court premises.

According to the test results, the highest scores were given to Cisco Webex (35 scores out of 39) and Zoom (33 scores). Skype and EasyCon were rated significantly lower (22 and 16 scores, respectively). Easycon was called a non-competitive product, which is not ready for industrial implementation. Instead, other systems have been recommended for use in the short term.

Based on the analysis, the authors of the study concluded as follows: “in the short term, in order to quickly provide remote access to justice, it is advisable to use existing the following free solutions: Zoom fee [most likely, Free – CPLR], Skype, Google meet or Webex free with reservations expressed by experts in analysis above”.

CPLR assessment

The study is very important in a situation where judges have the opportunity to choose software products for video conferencing during quarantine at their discretion. It is a good guide for weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each of the systems, in particular in terms of technical capabilities and requirements established by law.

At the same time, CPLR experts suggest taking into account the following additional aspects:

1. The authors of the study recommend using Skype among other systems, although, as noted in the study itself, this system does not allow online broadcasting of the court session. However, if the parties participate in a trial remotely, its online broadcasting is a direct requirement of the law (Part 4 of Article 11 of the Law “On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges” and the relevant provisions of the Procedural Codes).

In addition, based on the study, anyone can connect to the videoconference through the link and fully participate in it, and the court is deprived of the possibility to moderate it (turn off the sound of such a participant or remove him/her from the conference). In practice, this may lead to the situation when a presiding judge is unable to fully control the course of the court session, and the persons involved will be able to disrupt the court session without any negative consequences for themselves.

Under such conditions, this system should not be recommended for use. 

2. The authors of the study, among others, recommend that courts use the Google Meet system, although no results of analysis/testing of this system are given in the text of the study. Another service by Google Hangout (probably Hangouts) was rejected by the authors of the study because "the functionality of video conferencing is at a very basic level or there are some critical limitations".

3. The study analyzes the Cisco Webex system, which showed the best results in testing. According to the analysis, this system is optimal for its use in court sessions compared to other subjects of analysis. By the way, in Brazil, Cisco Brazil company provided a free service for the needs of the courts, Webex is used by the courts of Argentina.

However, the study does not explain why this system was included in the comparative exercise. It is currently the only one of the studied systems not yet used by Ukrainian courts (at least this is evidenced by the data of the Unified State Register of Court Decisions).

Other similar systems used in the courts of other countries are not included in the study. For example, the PEXIP VMR system, which is used in Ireland, enables to connect via various video conferencing programs, or Vidyo, which provides organizations with a temporary free license and is used in Indian courts, the BlueJeans system, and so on.