Coronavirus Update – Courts of England and Wales
For those people needing to attend Courts in England and Wales during this unprecedented time, there has been little to report about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impact until 18 and 23 March.
Details were understandably scant initially as the scale and speed of COVID-19’s development has taken the world by surprise, with The Independent being one of the first to update the public, reporting on 8 March 2020 that Courts were endeavouring to conduct urgent/necessary hearings remotely.
Since then it has been confirmed that Crown Court trials requiring jury service have been postponed for obvious reasons and Magistrates Court Hearings will similarly be postponed, unless remote facilities are available.
The position regarding the County Court and High Court was less clear, before The Central County Court in London released details confirming that the Court was not operational ‘where people need to attend Court, unless they are urgent and no remote hearing is possible ’.
The most helpful guidance comes from The First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), which has published a clear document stating the following:-
- All face to face hearings postponed until “at least the end of May 2020”.
- Thereafter, its staff will seek to list hearings remotely or seek agreement from the parties for the cases to be conducted on the basis of documents alone.
- Whatever the case, you will not hear from them for at least 6 weeks.
- Site visits will not occur for at least 6 months.
- Despite that, the parties should endeavour to comply with directions that are already in place.
- For cases requiring urgent action in the intervening period, the parties should seek the Tribunal’s assistance by email.
That aside, the position is still evolving on an almost daily and naturally this is only a brief summary, therefore I refer you to the link: judiciary.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-and-guidance/
Mark Wrinch is a solicitor specialising in dispute resolution in the Business Services Team at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.