Giving evidence by television-link
The general rule in the courts in Ireland, is that a witness must be present in the courtroom to give oral evidence. However, recent legislation, Section 13 of the Criminal Evidence Act 1992, has introduced the concept of video-link evidence in cases.
Instead of coming into the courtroom, the witness sits in another room and gives evidence via a live television link. A television monitor is placed in the court, which transmits the image of the witness, and the witness has the benefit of a television monitor in his/her room that transmits the image of what is going on in the court.
The purpose of TV-link evidence is to make it easier for some witnesses to give evidence. The courtroom can be very intimidating and being in the same room as the accused may be very difficult for some witnesses.
In criminal proceedings, there are few situations where TV-link evidence will be acceptable:
- If a witness lives outside Ireland, in some cases, he or she may give evidence through a live television link
- If the proceedings relate to a sexual or violent offence, the judge may decide that any witness (other than the accused) may give evidence through a live TV link
- If the proceedings relate to a sexual or violent offence, witnesses under 18 years of age and people with mental disabilities are allowed give evidence by live TV link unless there is a good reason why they should not
When evidence is being given by a child or a person with a mental disability through a live TV link, the judge and the barristers in the court do not wear wigs or gowns. The judge may decide that the questions should be asked through an intermediary (for example a social worker) and that they should be asked in a way that is appropriate for the age and mental ability of the witness.
In civil proceedings there is provision to allow someone to give evidence through a live TV link, including where the witness is not in Ireland, providing the facilities are availble and the case is suitable.
Video-link evidence may also be allowed in civil cases concerning the welfare of a child or a person with a mental disability. The judge must decide that it is appropriate that the child or person with a mental disability give evidence by a television link and he or she may also decide that the questions should be put through an intermediary.
For more detailed information you should seek legal advice.