Statement in respect the arrangement of Courts – 13th March 2020
The Courts Service has managed a very successful introduction of measures to scale back the work of the courts, which began today, and which resulted in a huge decrease in the numbers needed to be in court. We propose to continue to introduce further changes to scale back even further on the numbers attending court from Monday.
We have spent the day consulting with courts staff and judges to ascertain how the plans to date have worked and what else we can achieve to try and ensure a lessened risk from the Covid -19 virus.
Following on from the successful curtailment of numbers today, and following updated advice from the HSE, the Chief Justice and Presidents of each jurisdiction have organised further reductions in business. Our scenario planning and the reductions we achieved today already, will allow us to introduce more social distancing arrangements from Monday.
Each change is taking account of the advice to create social distance and avoid over concentration of people in one room or place.
The changes will see only urgent cases, and cases not involving witnesses, etc. going ahead in the coming weeks.
This will free up judges to hear the cases which need to go ahead, in much emptier courtrooms across our estate.
Court offices will remain open, drop boxes are being provided for documents to be left in – thus lessening the need to queue and wait. Civil matters can be adjourned by consent via e-mail.
Please see the following statements of the Chief Justice and Presidents in respect of each court jurisdiction:
The Circuit Court
The President of the Circuit Court has decided that given the developing COVID-19 situation, the following measures concerning the business of the Court will be implemented:
1. Criminal Cases
A. Ongoing jury trials to continue to conclusion
B. No new Jury trial will commence for the remained of this term.
C. Custody Sentencing cases to be dealt with as usual or by video link depending on the application.
D. Non-custody cases to be mentioned as usual and remanded to appear on date after 10th June 2020.
E. Defendants’ Solicitors to inform their clients they need not attend if on bail. For unrepresented persons the Circuit Court offices will advise the litigants directly. Gardaí to be advised to caution the defendants of the adjourned date. Office of the DPP/defence solicitors to inform witness summonsed for Circuit Court matters (save for ongoing trials or sentences) that they do not need to attend. A Judge will be available to sit on each Circuit to hear urgent applications.
2. District Court Appeals
District Court Appeals to be remanded after 10th June 2020. A Judge sitting to hear urgent applications will remand/adjourn the district court appeals list to a date after 10th June 2020. The Circuit Court offices will advise parties of adjourned dates. A Judge will be available to sit on each Circuit to hear urgent applications.
3. Family Law
Family Law lists will be adjourned to a date after 20th April 2020. Parties to be advised of the adjourned dates by the Circuit Court offices. The Circuit Family Law Courts will, on a temporary basis, accept consent adjournment applications by email where both parties email independently and they will be notified of the adjourned date by email to the email addresses from which they were received. A Judge will be available to sit on each Circuit to hear urgent applications.
4. Civil Cases and Motions
Civil lists will be adjourned to a date after 20th April 2020. The Circuit Civil Law Courts will, on a temporary basis, accept consent adjournment applications by email where both parties email independently and they will be notified of the adjourned date by email to the email addresses from which they were received. A Judge will be available on each Circuit to hear urgent applications.
Further and detailed arrangements will be made after consultation with all stakeholders.
The District Court
The President of the District Court has decided that given the developing COVID-19 situation and the need to focus on prevention of community spread of COVID-19 the following additional measures concerning the business of the Court will be implemented for the foreseeable future:
1. Parties with non-urgent cases are no longer required to attend court.
2. The District Court will continue to hear urgent matters only in all District Court Districts throughout the country.
3. Urgent matters are:
a. Cases where the accused is in custody and cases where people are charged with new offences. It does not include criminal cases where the accused is on bail or is not in custody.
b. Remands where the accused is in custody should be dealt with by video-link wherever possible.
c. New applications for protection orders or interim barring orders and return hearings of interim barring order cases. If safety order hearings are being adjourned interim protective orders will be extended to the new date.
Child Care Law
d. Extension of interim care orders and emergency care orders and exceptional or urgent interim care orders.
4. If your case does is not included in the description of urgent matters above, then it is a non-urgent matter and parties do not need to attend court.
5. Solicitors are to inform clients that they do not need to attend where their case is a non-urgent matter.
6. Non-urgent cases will be adjourned, and parties will be told of their new court dates by ordinary post or by their solicitor or barrister where one is present.
a. Civil Matters
7. All District Court Civil matters are considered to be non-urgent and will be adjourned to a new date. Parties will be told of their new court dates by ordinary post or by their solicitor or barrister where one is present.
8. A case which does not come into the defined urgent category can be treated as urgent if a good case can be made. A party can email the relevant court office setting out the reasons why the case should be considered urgent. This should be on notice to the other side who must be given a chance to set out their position.
These measures will be reviewed at the end of the legal term on the 12th April 2020 or earlier if needed.
The situation is fluid and further decisions may have to be taken by the Court Service. They will though be keeping your solicitor advised of any changes.
NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff at 051 859999/ firstname.lastname@example.org