Lord Chief Justice Responds To Lockdown Effects On Courts & Tribunals

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When, on 31 October 2020, Boris Johnson announced that the UK would once again be entering a state of ‘lockdown’, it raised feelings of anxiety and fear in many.  For those contemplating separation, those who have recently separated or those struggling to agree with an ex-partner the arrangements that should be in place for their children, it is likely that they also felt concern about whether they would be able to obtain any legal advice or seek any court orders during the period of lockdown.

On 1 November 2020 the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, and the Senior President of Tribunals, Sir Keith Lindblom, issued the following message concerning the new Covid-19 restrictions for England and the effect on courts and tribunals.

“The Prime Minister has announced the intention of the Government to introduce regulations that place England back into ‘lockdown’. The work of the courts and tribunals will continue to be exempted from these measures. Between March and July when the country was last subject to similar restrictions great efforts were made to ensure that all of our courts and tribunals could continue to function including, after a short pause, carrying on with trials in both the Magistrates’ Courts and the Crown Court. In none of our jurisdictions did work grind to a halt.

“It is vital for the well-being of the country that the administration of justice continues to operate. The legal profession, the parties, jurors, witnesses, judges, magistrates and court staff are all key workers, vital to the continued running of the courts and tribunals in this proposed period of renewed significant restrictions. Our experience since March has left us much better prepared. HMCTS will continue to follow and implement public health advice to reduce risk.

“In March we urged judges across the jurisdictions to facilitate the remote attendance of participants in court proceedings where that was compatible with the interests of justice. The interests of justice are wide and extend beyond the interests of parties in a hearing to encompass the consequences of delay in the case and to the system as a whole. Remote attendance, together with the requirements for social distancing, have led to a significant reduction in footfall in all court buildings whilst enabling thousands of hearings to take place. Significantly reduced footfall will continue to be necessary in this next phase.

“Judges and magistrates must continue to make full use of these provisions so that cases can be dealt with as soon and as efficiently as possible.

“The response of the judiciary, the magistracy and HMCTS to the intense difficulties which we endured earlier in the year was remarkable. We have every confidence that in the coming very difficult period, with the support of all those who contribute to the running of the courts, collectively we will remain equal to the many challenges ahead.”

Lord Burnett of Maldon, Lord Chief Justice
Sir Keith Lindblom, Senior President of Tribunals

It is undeniable that the restrictions of lockdown place pressure on many relationships and many will need legal help and advice at this time.  Here at Bennett Griffin we, like the courts, are open and ready to help.  Our initial consultations are conducted remotely and will allow you the opportunity to discuss your options in a safe environment.

If you would like to discuss things further, then do get in touch with us and we are happy to help. Either call us on 01903 229999, email us at info@bennett-griffin.co.uk or by completing the contact form below. Additionally, arrange a free, 15-minute chat with our Family team on Tuesdays or Fridays in our Family Advice Clinics – head to our dedicated page to learn more and to book a time for us to speak to you!

Disclaimer – Please note that this update is not intended to be exhaustive or be a substitute for legal advice. The application of the law in this area will often depend upon the specific facts and you are advised to seek specific advice on any given scenario.