We at Wainwright and Cummins want to ensure the safety of our clients and staff during this uncertain time.
However we have had a large amount of our clients across all the different areas of the firm ask if there case will take place if the courts are open. We as a firm want to give you bit of information during this lock down period regarding attending courts, if they are open and will you need to attend.
Are Courts open?
The courts are still open... (Well some of them are). Only a small network of priority courts have remand open during this Covid-19 pandemic. This is to insure that the justice system continues to operate during these troubling time and ensure the courts system will not suffer from a larger than needed backlog of cases.
The work of courts and tribunals has been combined into fewer buildings, to ensure the safety of everyone in the courts and in line with the current public health advice given by the government.
With the phone and video hearings hearing significantly being utilised from the courts as opposed to the normal operation that we are custom to.
How many Courts will remain open?
159 priority court and tribunal buildings have remained open for essential face-to-face hearings.
This is roughly 40% of all Crown, Magistrates, County, Family courts and Tribunals across England and Wales. This is to insure that the core of our justice system is focused on the most essential cases.
They ensure to effectively remain socially distance for everyone within the court, this includes all court users and for cleaning and security work to be focused on less buildings.
In addition, a further 124 court and tribunal buildings will remain closed to the public, however 116 will be open to HM Courts and Tribunal (HMCTS) staff, the judiciary and those from other agencies. There main role is to support video and telephone hearings, progress cases without hearings and ensure continued access to justice. The remaining 76 courts and tribunals have been temporarily closed while we are still in this global epidemic, if only temporarily.
We at Wainwright and Cummins echo the thoughts of Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland, who said that: “We are facing an unprecedented challenge and the government’s absolute priority is to save lives and protect the NHS.”
As the justice system is highly dependent on each other (i.e.from police to probation). This means that is imperative that the courts keep running. However this has to be done in a way to ensure the health and safety of the public, judges, court staff and all other legal professionals who will be attending the hearings.
Some Media outlets and members of the public are able to attend priority court hearings in person, on the assumption it is safe to do so, and is in line with Public Health England guidance, thereby ensuring the principle of open justice.
When will the courts reopen?
It is unclear to know when the courts will be open. The Lord Chief Justice said “An extraordinary amount of hard work has gone into keeping our justice system functioning. Technology is being used creatively to ensure that many cases can continue. Not everything can be dealt with remotely and so we need to maintain functioning courts”.
These measures came into place on Monday, 30 March 2020 and will be kept in place for as long as necessary to comply with government and public health advice, this is constantly being reviewed, and we will try to keep you updated. Or visit the government website for up to the minute update and see if there are any new changes.