HMCTS are consolidating the work of the courts and tribunals into fewer buildings. It has been announced that from Monday 30 March 2020 there will be a network of priority courts that will remain open during the coronavirus pandemic to make sure the justice system continues to operate effectively.
Fewer than half of all court and tribunal buildings will remain open for physical hearings, with 157 priority court and tribunal buildings remaining open for essential face-to-face hearings. This represents 42% of the 370 crown, magistrates, county and family courts and tribunals across England and Wales.
To help maintain a core justice system that is focused on the most essential cases there will be open courts, staffed courts and suspended courts.
The Judiciary recommend that you check which courts are open before you travel. For information regarding the category of each court please follow this link.
Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland has said that it is vital that we keep our courts running. and that:
“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 temporary adjustments to how we use the court estate will help ensure that we can continue to deal with work appropriately in all jurisdictions whilst safeguarding the well-being of all those who work in and visit the courts”.
Staffed courts will support video and telephone hearings and progress cases without hearings and ensure continued access to justice.
The remaining courts and tribunals will close temporarily and these measures will be kept in place for as long as necessary.
Sue Fox is a Senior Associate and the Head of the Costs Management team in the Costs and Litigation Funding Department at Clarion Solicitors. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and 0113 336 3389, or the Clarion Costs Team on 0113 246 0622.