296. If an illness or a disability prevents a witness from attending the hearing, the court, even on its own initiative, may order that the witness be examined at a distance using a technological means, or appoint a commissioner to take the witness’s testimony. The court may do likewise in order to avoid unnecessary travel by a witness living in a remote location.
If the court chooses to appoint a commissioner, it gives the commissioner the necessary instructions; it also sets the time within which the examination is to be conducted and the commissioner’s report is to be filed, and determines the amount to be advanced to the commissioner to cover costs. The examination is taken down in writing or recorded, and certified by the commissioner; the commissioner is authorized to make copies of any documents the witness exhibits but is not willing to surrender. The examination together with the exhibits produced by the witness are disclosed to the parties and to the court. A party that wishes to be represented at the examination must advise the commissioner in sufficient time and designate a representative, who must be given five days’ notice of the date and place of the examination.