Covid-19 & Hearings

What you need to know

Who should read this?

  • All Executive Teams, Boards, Income, Housing Management and Tenancy Enforcement Teams

What’s the update?

  • On 19th March 2020, the Lord Chief Justice sent a message to all Judges in the Civil and Family Courts. Whilst this is primarily aimed at Judges/Court staff trying to work their way through the practical implications of ‘social distancing’ and what the Courts can do to keep the wheels of justice in motion during this unprecedented time, you can read the message in here:

What does this mean for your hearings?

Trials and hearings involving live evidence

  • The Lord Chief Justice has commented that it may be difficult to maintain trials and final hearings in the short term, not least because of the inability of people to participate at all. As events develop individual decisions on priorities and practicalities will have to be made. The message is to do what can be done safely.

Possession Proceedings

  • Applications to suspend warrants of possession should be prioritised.
  • Block listing of possession claims (and presumably injunction applications) is now inappropriate given the difficulties in to maintain appropriate social distancing.
  • Any Judges dealing with ANY possession claim during the crisis must have in mind the public health guidance and should not make an order that risks impacting on public health.

Injunctions and committal hearings

  • Applications for injunctions and committal are likely to be urgent and such work will need to be prioritised.
  • Applications for breach of an injunction or undertakings are unlikely suitable for telephone hearing. Such applications are likely to be urgent and to require priority. Arrangements will be required for the safe hearing of such applications.

What we don’t yet know

  • Unfortunately we are yet to know precisely what we are to do with regarding’s to hearings that are to be listed and have already been listed. Will block lists be adjourned? How do we know whether cases will be in Court or be heard by telephone? Will the Courts agree to hear emergency applications, for example ex parte applications at Court? What is happening to trials in the short term? Will the Courts remain open at all?

Next steps for you

  • Practically speaking, until further notice we recommend that you continue to attend hearings if it is safe to do so, and until there is any further guidance on the matter.
  • If you have any questions or wish to discuss specific cases please contact our Team.

What we will be doing

  • Until further notice, we will be continuing to attend Court hearings for you in person. If members of your teams do not wish to attend, please let us know and we can wherever possible arrange to take instructions from you by telephone.
  • Producing further practical guidance as soon as we know more information and the answers to the questions above.

Contact us, we are here to help

If you have any questions please contact Tom Knox or Louise Murphy on the details provided below