You’ve read all the Government advice on social distancing, so you would assume that there should be no problem with getting your Magistrates Court trial adjourned.
Magistrates Courts “Business as usual”?
Robert Buckland, QC MP, Lord Chancellor said on 18 March 2020
“Our Crown and Magistrates courts provide a vital public service and until instructed otherwise, we expect all lawyers, magistrates, jurors, witnesses, defendants and court staff to continue to attend court as required, so the interests of justice can be served”.
Given that these magistrates courts are crowded and aren’t set up for social distancing, you’d think that Robert Buckland might reconsider his expectations of other people in the middle of a world-wide pandemic. I would have thought that a man who cancelled his own constituency surgery to avoid Covid-19, would have a little more understanding of defendants, witnesses and lawyers who also want to avoid catching the coronavirus.
The only people who seem to be engaging in any joined up thinking are the barristers, solicitors and front line court staff who are demanding basic health and safety for themselves – as well as the witnesses and defendants.
Because there is no show without the lawyers or front line court staff, the Government finally conceded that, at this moment, Magistrates courts are only covering urgent work (overnight custody and people brought from prison). This means that, just for today, many trials are being postponed until later in the year. You must check for yourself whether or not YOUR trial has been adjourned – or if it is going ahead as planned.
Magistrates’ Courts will only hear urgent cases today (overnight custody & prisoner production). Parties involved in all other hearings should not attend court unless contacted directly. You’ll be notified of new hearing date. This situation may change quickly. #coronavirus
— HMCTS (@HMCTSgovuk) March 24, 2020
I say, “just for today” because the situation is subject to change on a daily basis.
To find out the latest state of play, please click the link below and see,
The other thing I am doing is giving you the link where you can find the court’s email address so you can to let the court know if you are sick or self-isolating – or just to get clarity on your trial date. You can find the email address for your trial court at https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/courts