The virtual court requires no courthouse, no courtroom. Participants sit in immersive ‘pods’, sweeping their eyes around to look at the other participants arrayed, life-size, on screens before them. They make eye contact with others when they interact with them (or look away). This scenario could be the future for some hearings in courts or tribunals where on-line mediation has not worked, or physical presence is not required.
This study operationalised the virtual court under experimental conditions. Some 181 research participants were assigned to take part in a mock hearing either in an immersive pod or a face-to-face hearing room. Actors played the part of tribunal member and first litigant, with research participants acting either as the second litigant or a witness.