A barrister's barking dog forced a temporary pause in a remote hearing at the Court of Appeal, in what was one of the last video-link cases at the court before a return to physical hearings.
The three-judge court has been hearing cases remotely since April 2020 in response to the threat posed to public health by Covid-19. Last week however, the appellate court decided physical hearings at the Criminal Courts of Justice would resume when it emerged the Government was on the brink of ending many of the pandemic's restrictions.
Unfortunately, the move did not come soon enough for the dog-owning lawyer who was appealing both the conviction and prison term imposed on his client in a criminal case.
As the barrister was explaining to the three judges of the court why he believed the trial judge had erred when he refused his client’s change of plea from guilty to not guilty, the sound of a dog repeatedly barking could be heard over the remote link.
The lawyer had paused temporarily and, when the yapping ceased, resumed his submission before being again stopped moments later when the dog began its barking once again.
'Happens all the time on television'
The presiding judge then intervened and said the court would rise while the barrister “dealt with the matter”.
“This type of thing happens all the time on television,” he remarked as he adjourned the hearing for five minutes.
“Remote hearings have been used by the Court of Appeal during the pandemic but this was the first time an animal took part in proceedings,” a court insider said.
“When the sound of the dog barking was first heard over the remote link, the look on the barrister’s face appeared to be one of confusion and embarrassment,” the official added.
“He also looked as if he was wondering whether the judges had heard the interruption from the dog and, if they hadn’t, whether he should carry on as if nothing had happened.
“Thankfully, the presiding judge intervened and sensibly adjourned the hearing to give the barrister sufficient time to quieten the animal down.”
The hearing continued without further incident, with the court later deciding to dismiss the appeal against conviction but to suspend a portion of the appellant’s sentence.