I am involved in a dispute, are the courts still operational?
We have a new Protocol for the conduct of court hearings during the Coronavirus Pandemic, which will apply until further notice to all proceedings in the County Court, High Court and Court of Appeal (Civil Division), including the Business and Property Courts. The clear intention is that as many hearings as possible will take place remotely, although a small minority of hearings may have to be done in a court room.
After the changes to lockdown on 10 May 2020, will court hearings now go ahead in person?
No, the situation has not changed and the courts continue to prefer remote hearings wherever possible.
What if a remote hearing isn’t possible?
If a remote hearing is not possible the case will need to be adjourned. However the courts have made it clear that hearings will go ahead, unless there are exceptional circumstances or both parties prefer to adjourn.
How will a remote hearing be arranged?
The court will contact the parties in good time before the hearing date about how the remote proceedings will be conducted. It will be decided whether they will be video or audio proceedings and the software that will be used. The main options being BT MeetMe, Skype for Business, Zoom, court video link, BT conference call or an ordinary telephone call. The court will record the hearing, but the parties will not be allowed to do so without the permission of the Judge.
The parties’ representatives are expected to be proactive in relation to remote hearings. They should try to agree the hearing method, time estimate, and how the documentation will be made available electronically. In some cases the court will arrange a short telephone hearing some days or weeks in advance of the main hearing to deal with any outstanding procedural or practical issues.
If I need to go into court will I have to wear a face mask?
As of Monday 27 July 2020, those attending Court buildings will be required to wear a face covering in the communal areas. This applies to lawyers, representatives of Landlords and to tenants.
The only reasons for not wearing a face covering in a communal area are:
- they have disability or health issue that makes it difficult
- wearing one will cause the wearer severe distress
- if a deaf person needs to read the individual’s lips (though speech-to-text apps should also be considered)
- for eating, drinking or taking medicine.
Updated guidance will be published on the Government webiste over the next week.
How can Tozers help?
If your case is listed for a hearing we will discuss with you firstly whether you are happy for the hearing to take place remotely by telephone, video link etc, and secondly what remote communication method would be best. Many hearings take place without the court hearing from any witnesses, which we are already used to dealing with by telephone, and arrangements can be made for you to attend such hearings by conference call. Where witness evidence is to be called, the procedures are more complicated, and we will discuss this in detail with you in plenty of time.
Last updated on 29/07/2020