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Covid-19 Message from the PIBA Chair: 24 March 2020 - Update


Dear PIBA Member

The Bar Council has published its own updated guidance this morning regarding attendance at Court following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night. 

The guidance can be found here.  Of importance to personal injury practitioners it includes the following:

Civil or Family Courts: you should not attend in person unless the hearing is genuinely urgent and it cannot be done remotely. Such a hearing will be a rare occurrence. 

Please read and familiarise yourself with the guidance.

Stay safe.


Darryl Allen QC

Chair of PIBA


Covid-19 Message from the PIBA Chair: 24 March 2020


Dear PIBA Member


I understand that all Circuit Leaders have spoken to their Presiding Judges in the light of the Prime Minister’s latest announcement. 

The Leaders of the Northern Circuit, the South Eastern Circuit, the Western Circuit and the North Eastern Circuit have all issued clear and unequivocal advice to the following effect: DO NOT ATTEND ANY IN PERSON COURT HEARING TODAY UNLESS IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE HEARING PROCEEDS IN PERSON.  I have also been in touch with the Leader of the Midland Circuit who has confirmed that the position is the same on that Circuit.

This advice applies to the County Courts.  It will remain in force until further notice.  The advice does not specify it but by extension it must apply to hearings in the District Registries which occupy the same physical space as the County Courts.   All hearings should be conducted remotely unless (i) there is genuine urgency, (ii) the hearing cannot take place remotely, and (iii) the hearing is truly essential.

My advice to you is to follow the advice of the Circuit Leaders.  Their advice is clear: DO NOT ATTEND COURT FOR A HEARING UNLESS IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT IT GOES AHEAD IN PERSON.  If you have any questions or are uncertain as to whether your hearing is going to go ahead then contact the Court.  Some Courts have already closed.

The Leader of the Western Circuit has advised, regarding County Court cases, “All cases presently being heard should be adjourned part heard so that arrangements can be made, where possible, to conduct the hearing remotely.”  That makes obvious sense and is likely to be followed.  I suggest you make urgent contact with the Judge conducting your hearing if he/she has not already been in contact with you.

I will provide further information as soon as I have it. 

Stay safe.  


Darryl Allen QC

Chair of PIBA

Covid-19 Message from the PIBA Chair: 23 March 2020


Dear PIBA Member



Key worker status

The Chair of the Bar has issued an update on whether barristers qualify for key worker status during the COVID19 outbreak - here.  This follows discussions with the MOJ and the Department for Education.  The emphasis appears to be on the frequency/imminence of participation in Court hearings.  Barristers must assess for themselves whether they fall in the category of key worker and, if so, whether they can nevertheless keep their children at home or need to send them to school. 

Please read the Chair’s update and the clarification from the MOJ/Department for Education.


Remote hearings

The Master of the Rolls, the President, the Chancellor and the Senior Presiding Judge have issued a Protocol for Remote Hearings in Civil Proceedings.  That document is on the Judiciary website and can be found here.  Paragraphs worth highlighting:


10. In the present circumstances, the court and the parties and their representatives will need to be more proactive in relation to all forthcoming hearings.

11. ...

12. It will normally be possible for all short, interlocutory, or non-witness, applications to be heard remotely. Some witness cases will also be suitable for remote hearings.


16. Judges, clerks, and/or officials will, in each case, wherever possible, propose to the parties one of three solutions:-

(i) a stated appropriate remote communication method (BT conference call, Skype for Business, court video link, BT MeetMe, Zoom, ordinary telephone call or another method) for the hearing;

(ii) that the case will proceed in court with appropriate precautions to prevent the transmission of Covid-19; or

(iii) that the case will need to be adjourned, because a remote hearing is not possible and the length of the hearing combined with the number of parties or overseas parties, representatives and/or witnesses make it undesirable to go ahead with a hearing in court at the current time.

Please familiarise yourself with the Protocol.


Local arrangements

Some of you may have seen that the DCJ for Manchester, HHJ Bird, has issued Guidance which applies to civil hearings in the County Court and the QBD in Greater Manchester. You can download that Guidance here.  I understand that the DCJs for Liverpool, HHJ Wood QC, and for Bristol, HHJ Cotter QC, will be issuing something similar shortly.  I am writing to all of the DCJs to find out what arrangements are being made locally to implement the recommendations in the Lord Chief Justice’s advice and in the national Protocol to avoid in person hearings whenever possible.



The PIBA training and education team are putting together a Webinars programme for the coming weeks.  We will be announcing the details soon.

I will keep you updated as soon as I have any other news.

Stay safe.


Darryl Allen QC


Wellbeing at the Bar


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Webinar: Wellbeing in the time of Covid-19

Apr 01, 2020   Title: Wellbeing in the time of Covid-19 Speaker:  Theo Huckle QC, Denise Owen and Elizabeth Gallagher Date/Time: Weds 1 April...... find out more→


Apr 06, 2020   The 2020 PIBA AGM will take place at 4.30pm on Monday 6 April 2020 Venue: Online! The link to...... find out more→

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