The Courts – Latest Round Up From The Law Society

On 27 March the MoJ and HMCTS announced that, for public safety reasons, the work of the courts and tribunals will be consolidated into fewer buildings.

As of 15 April there were 160 priority court and tribunal buildings open for essential face-to-face hearings. This represents 43% of the 371 crown, magistrates and family courts across England and Wales.

In addition, a further 116 court and tribunal buildings will remain closed to the public but open to HMCTS staff, the judiciary and those from other agencies. These ‘staffed courts’ will support video and phone hearings, progress cases without hearings and ensure continued access to justice.

Read the courts and tribunals tracker list of which buildings remain open

Which cases are going ahead

HMCTS is publishing daily updates on which cases are going ahead.

Safety at police stations, prisons and courts

We’re pushing for policies and procedures to ensure that:

  • risks to our members are identified and they’re informed when a client, or other person with whom they may come into contact, may be infected
  • members and clients can maintain hygiene (for example access to soap and water and sanitiser)
  • alternative ways of advising and taking instructions (for example by phone) are provided
  • rules are adjusted so that members are not penalised for complying with safety advice, social distancing requirements, etc.

Read the latest guidance from HMCTS on safety in courts

Read the latest guidance from the Prisons Service on safety in prisons

Safety in police stations (Gazette Article)

NPCC guidance and recommendations for the provision of police custody during the pandemic (PDF 554 KB)


Contact With Clients

In general, we recommend following government advice.

If the client is in a risk category, it’s preferable to deal with the matter remotely – for example, by Skype.

We have produced guidance on obtaining electronic signatures.

The LAA has adopted contingency measures for obtaining client signatures remotely or waiving the requirement in some circumstances.

If a visit is necessary, it should be done by staff who are not:

  • a risk to the client
  • at high risk themselves

Both the client and the employee will need to agree to the meeting despite any risk.

If you cannot assist, an urgent referral to another solicitor may be appropriate.