New COVID-19 restrictions for England : Announcement from Lord Chief Justice and Senior President of Tribunals

“Subject to the Prime Ministers confirmation this afternoon of the intention of the Government to introduce regulations that place England back into “lockdown”, it has been confirmed that the work of the courts and tribunals will continue to be exempted from these measures. As we are aware between March and July when the country was last subject to similar restrictions great efforts were made to ensure that our courts and tribunals could continue to function as  quickly as possible.

It has been recognised that it is vital for the well-being of the country that the administration of justice continues to operate and that the legal profession, (the parties, jurors, witnesses, judges, magistrates and court staff) are all key workers, ensuring the continued running of the courts and tribunals in this proposed period of renewed significant restrictions.

A positive is that our experience since March has left us much better prepared. They have said HMCTS will continue to follow and implement public health advice to reduce risk.

Since March judges across the jurisdictions have facilitated remote attendance of participants in court proceedings where that was compatible with the interests of justice.

 These Remote attendances, together with the requirements for social distancing, have led to a significant reduction in footfall in all court buildings whilst enabling thousands of hearings to take place. These proviosns will continue to be necessary in this next phase and Judges and magistrates will have to continue to make full use of these provisions so that cases can be dealt with as soon and as efficiently as possible.”

We all as a legal profession have adapted and will continue to do so in the coming difficult situation.