Covid-19: A Criminal Justice System update

The first thing seen when entering our MSB website is a quote from Managing Partner, Emma Carey, stating: “We are a progressive law firm, practicing modern law for a modern society.” This is why we will continue to, and are able to, provide a service throughout these uncertain times.

Here I will focus on what is happening within the Criminal Justice System. The three main areas of concern are crown courts, magistrates’ courts and police station/custody suites. I will explain how this could affect you.

The current position, though ever changing, is that the criminal courts will only deal with priority hearings such as custody, detention and bail, and urgent applications. So, for example, if you have a driving matter listed in the coming weeks, your hearing will almost certainly be put off to a new date. Our simple advice is to check with court before you travel or contact us and we can assist you in doing so.

The latest update will mean you must also check if your court location has changed. There will be 158 priority court and tribunal buildings open for essential face-to-face hearings and many other courts will be closed.

Voluntary attendances at police stations will similarly be rearranged for new dates and should not be taking place. If you had or have one scheduled, call us and we can help with the rearrangement and any representations.

Custody cases with the police will also be treated differently and face to face contact will be limited as much as possible. Also, officers will only look to interview in cases that it is absolutely necessary. We have in place our own measures to limit exposure but will still be providing representation at the police station when required.

Most concerning is the inevitable increase in the backlog of cases going through the criminal justice system. The latest Ministry of Justice figures revealed an astounding 37,434 outstanding Crown Court cases, this is despite the fact that there are 9,000 fewer cases per year coming to the Crown Courts since 2010. This figure will swell ever greater as the courts try to function in extraordinary circumstances. Public safety is of paramount importance and the courts continue to explore all avenues to avoid a complete halt.

The situation is constantly adapting and ever evolving, so please contact us if you have any concerns over your upcoming hearing. We will provide the most up to date advice.

Contact us, we are here to help

If you have any questions please contact Ian Sheridan or Paul Gallagher on the details provided below