Over 150 priority courts to remain open for “essential” face-to-face hearings
In order to maintain the safety of those working in the courts including judges, lawyers and other court users, it has been decided that the courts and tribunals will be merged into fewer buildings.
It is confirmed that a network of 157 ‘priority’ court and tribunal buildings will remain open for ‘essential face-to-face hearings’ and types of work that cannot be carried out remotely, to continue.
The announcement by the Ministry of Justice comes just a few days after the decision for the use of telephone and video technology to hold remote hearings where possible. However, it is not always possible to use remote hearing technology, for example if one of the parties is a vulnerable individual without legal representation and doesn’t have access to basic technology or internet.
The 157 priority courts represent 42% of the crown, magistrates, county and family courts and tribunals across England and Wales.
The Lord Chief Justice has 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”.
The above measures will be implemented from Monday 30 March 2020.If you are worried about a hearing taking place over the next couple of months, speak to your solicitor who will be able to provide guidance as to what the various options are.