Coronavirus: How will it affect my court case?

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The outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) has left many of our client’s wondering what will happen to their court case.

Whilst the situation is ever changing as the country responds to the virus, at Ashtons Legal we will endeavour to keep you updated.

On 17.03.2020, the Lord Chief Justice, who is Head of the Judiciary and President of the Courts of England and Wales, acknowledged that it will not be ‘business as usual’ for the courts during the Covid-19 outbreak and highlighted the importance of ensuring that the administration of justice does not grind to a halt.

The current position is that in an effort to maintain access to justice and minimise disruption, court hearings will go ahead but as far as possible these will be dealt with remotely either via audio or video technology. Ultimately, how a hearing will be conducted is at the discretion of the judge.

The Coronavirus Bill 2020 has introduced a new practice direction, 51Y – ‘Video or audio hearings during Coronavirus pandemic’, which clarifies when a court may exercise its discretion to conduct hearings remotely in private and how to ensure that access is given to hearings that have been held in private.

Where hearings are required to take place in person, HM Courts & Tribunal Services have identified a number of ‘priority courts’ which will remain open to hear essential face-to-face hearings. These priority courts will support video and telephone hearings, progress cases without hearings and ensure continued access to justice, HMCTS said.

In accordance with the governments guidance, if you, or the people you are coming to court with, have confirmed or possible coronavirus infection and need to self-isolate, you should not attend court and should notify the court or tribunal where the hearing is taking place that you are unable to attend. You should also inform your solicitor as soon as possible.

If key witnesses or barristers cannot attend a hearing due to Covid-19, then it is likely that the hearing will be adjourned or deferred unless a suitable replacement who is familiar with the case and has had the time to prepare for the hearing is available.

If you are attending court, the MOJ has also changed their security policy so that people can bring hand sanistiser into the courts and tribunal buildings.

Further information

The government publishes daily updates at 2pm with the latest updates and advice.

We will endeavour to update you as and when further news is received.

For specific advice about your case, please contact our specialist Disputes team through the website or by calling 0330 404 0738.

This information was correct at 12pm on 30 March 2020.


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