Covid-19 Message from the PIBA Chair: 24 March 2020
Dear PIBA Member
CIRCUIT LEADERS' ADVICE: DO NOT ATTEND COURT UNLESS ESSENTIAL
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.
Darryl Allen QC
Chair of PIBA