Coronavirus Update 30 March 2020 – Courts of England and Wales


Following on from my blog of 25 March 2020, the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor have provided further guidance about the courts’ ongoing operation during these difficult times of the coronavirus pandemic.

A vast amount of work has been carried out to facilitate remote hearings and continuing operations as this is fundamental to protecting the rule of law, however the latter will be consolidated into fewer buildings to follow Government health advice to the public and maintain the safety of both staff and the public attending the courts.

Accordingly there will be 157 courts and tribunals listed as “priority courts”, which remain open for essential face-to-face hearings. Although it is emphasised that face-to-face hearings will only go ahead if there is no opportunity to conduct such a hearing remotely. This represents 42% of all the crown, magistrates, family and county courts and tribunals across England and Wales.

A further 124 courts will be staffed by HM Courts and Tribunal Staff (HMCTS), the judiciary and other agencies, but not open to the public.

The remaining courts will be suspended. There is a spreadsheet providing details of such courts which can be found here and as the bulk of those reading this article are likely to be from the East Anglian Region I confirm the following court details relevant to the region:-

  • Basildon Combined Court – staffed but not open to the public;
  • Cambridge Civil Justice Centre – open;
  • Bury St. Edminds Court & ET – staffed but not open to the public;
  • Ipswich County Couty – staffed but not open to the public;
  • Norwich Combined Court – open;
  • Peterborough Combined Court – open;
  • Central London Probate Registry – staffed but not open to the public;
  • Central London Family Court – open;
  • East London Family & magistrates Court – open.
  • Bedford County and Magistrates – suspended.

It follows that there should be access to justice and any existing court cases and their direction timetables should continue to be followed in the usual way. If you have any questions, then please email mark.wrinch@barkergotelee.co.uk

Mark Wrinch is a solicitor specialising in dispute resolution in the Business Services Team at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

Suffolk Business Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk