One of the most significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the administration of justice has been the shift to virtual hearings and mediations. In mid-2020, Baker McKenzie and KPMG UK surveyed civil and commercial court users to explore their experience and perceptions of virtual hearings and mediations and to help answer a key question: are virtual hearings and mediations here to stay?

70% of the participants said they would prefer to have virtual interim hearings in the future, with over 65% in favour of all hearings of less than one day not involving cross-examination or very complex documentation being virtual. By contrast, less than 20% of survey participants were in favour of a final hearing being heard remotely (with 48% preferring an in person hearing).

With the benefit of several months of practical experience, and as part of London International Disputes Week 2021, Baker McKenzie and KPMG UK teamed up with Stevens & Bolton and XXIV Old Buildings to explore three key questions: Are virtual hearings and mediations here to stay? What advantages might they have? What challenges do they present? Due to their professional backgrounds, the panel was able to provide first-hand views from the perspectives of: the judiciary, clients, solicitors, advocates and experts.

You can find the full report here.

Charles Thomson

Charles Thomson is a partner in the Baker McKenzie Dispute Resolution team based in London. Charles has substantial experience of managing a broad range of high value, multijurisdictional commercial disputes and investigations, particularly those involving fraud and white collar crime, contentious trusts and complex banking and finance disputes. He also has experience of resolving disputes through alternative means of dispute resolution, including mediation and conventional negotiation. Chambers cite clients in describing Charles as "extremely knowledgeable, user-friendly and always willing to go the extra mile," while Legal 500 similarly enthuse that he is "a great strategic thinker and a thorough pleasure to work with." Charles is also listed as a Rising Star in Litigation by Legal Week and is also listed in Global Investigations Review as a leading expert in conducting investigations.


Henry Garfield is a senior associate in the Dispute Resolution team in the London office of Baker & McKenzie and a member of the Compliance and Investigations group. Henry is an English qualified solicitor. Henry also worked in the San Francisco office for an extended period and has been seconded to the litigation and regulatory investigations team of a well known bank. During his secondment, Henry played a leading role in the internal legal team on a number of high profile investigations and disputes. Henry has also been seconded to the UK Serious Fraud Office, during which he was the Case Lawyer on a high profile and significant multi million pound investigation.