How Sheffield crown and magistrates' courts are continuing to administer justice

Sheffield Crown Court and Magistrates’ Court are continuing to stay open during the coronavirus outbreak with safety adaptations to reduce health risks.

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 1:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 3:55 pm

The Government HM Courts and Tribunal Service stated it is essential courts and tribunals continue to administer justice but practices have been adjusted with steps to minimise risks to the judiciary, staff, professional and the public.

Provisions have been put in place with arrangements to use telephone, video and other technology at as many hearings as possible.

Yesterday, March 23, the Lord Chief Justice announced a temporary pause on new jury trials in crown court while measures are put in place to ensure physical hearings can take place safely and in accordance with advice on social-distancing.

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Sheffield Crown Court

He said: “We have put in place arrangements to use telephone, video and other technology to continue as many hearings as possible remotely.

“We will make best possible use of the equipment currently available. HMCTS is working round the clock to update and add to that. Some hearings, the most obvious being jury trials, cannot be conducted remotely.“I have decided that we need to pause jury trials for a short time to enable appropriate precautions to be put in place.”

The same safety considerations apply to magistrates’ courts, according to the Government.

Magistrates’ courts will need to continue to deal with urgent work, in accordance with guidance given by the Judiciary to judges and staff, and all hearings that can lawfully take place remotely should do so.

Sheffield Magistrates' Court.

Government advice concerning civil and family courts is that hearings requiring the physical presence of parties and representatives and others should only take place if a remote hearing is not possible and if suitable arrangements can be made to ensure safety.

Government advice has been that anyone who does not have a confirmed or possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection or does not need to self-isolate, should continue to attend courts and tribunals as planned, unless informed otherwise.

Anyone with confirmed or possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection or who needs to self-isolate in line with NHS advice, should contact the court or tribunal in which any relevant hearing is due to take place.

The Government has stated that guidance will be updated as events develop.