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Court attendance during third COVID-19 lockdown

Whilst the government has announced that courts will remain open during the latest COVID-19 lockdown, remote attendance is to be the default position, according to the lord chief justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon.

Courts appeared to be in chaos during the first lockdown in March 2020 as less than half of them were open for face-to-face hearings.  Since then, £110 million has been spent to make courts safe for trials to go ahead where necessary.  Professional court users have been designated as key workers, so they can leave their home for work and their children can attend school, allowing them to continue working.

Judges in all jurisdictions (civil, family and crime) have moved to remote hearings wherever possible.  Where it is not possible, professional users, such as lawyers, jurors and witnesses should attend court unless they are directed not to by the judge dealing with the case.  Guidance published by the government says that these people are exempt from lockdown rules in such cases – unless, of course, they have tested positive for COVID-19.  Everyone attending court must wear a mask.

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