Following the Government announcement to extend current Level 5 restrictions, the Courts Service and the Judiciary have agreed to continue existing Covid-19 Level 5 protocols into the month of March 2021. The Courts Service and Judiciary will review the situation on 15 March 2021, taking into consideration Government and public health advices, as well as required lead-in times for a phased increase of Court business.
Criminal trials, therefore, due to commence in the Central and Circuit Courts are not currently planned for the month of March 2021, subject to review on 15 March 2021. Priority will continue to be given to urgent matters such as domestic violence applications. There is one exception in the Special Criminal Court where trials with a single accused person will commence from 1 March 2021. Seeking to limit numbers in attendance, this exception will be subject to review and compliance with public health guidance and the Court Directions. The President of the High Court, Judge Irvine has issued two Notices relating to Civil and Criminal matters for the month of March, available here.
In general, across the various Courts, the work that has been conducted remotely will continue, with expansion of further technical solutions and remote capabilities to more Courts nationwide, including the District Court. The President of the Circuit Court has issued Orders extending the current protocols to 5 April 2021, available here. The President of the District Court, Judge Daly has issued a Statement, available here, extending the measures adopted by the District Court for the conduct of Criminal, Civil, Family Law and Child Care Law from 7 January to 1 March 2021 to 5 April 2021.
Notices and Practice Directions from the respective Presidents that issued earlier this year confirming how business will be conducted in the Superior, and District Courts should now be considered to apply for the month of March 2021 and are available here.
Every effort is being made to conduct as much business as is safely possible, in accordance with the Courts Service robust Covid-19 Safety Management Programme. However, given the evolving situation, court business may, with regret, need to be cancelled at short notice. The Courts Service Covid-19 Safety Management Programme will be reviewed and adapted if necessary in light of the Government’s revised plan, COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021 – The Path Ahead.
The continued recommendation to work from home, will be followed by Courts Service staff, where possible. Court offices are accepting documents by post, and some have deployed DX and drop box facilities and e-filing solutions to reduce the numbers coming to Court offices. Attendance at offices is on an appointment only basis at this time. For more information please contact the relevant office directly.
A person attending a court or court office to conduct legal or court business, continues to be recognised by Government as travelling for essential services under Level 5 restrictions and can travel beyond 5km for that purpose. It is important that all Court Users continue to practice the public health measures, follow the guidance of the Courts and the health and safety protocols put in place by the Courts Service namely:
- wear face masks
- physical distance at 2m
- continue good hand and respiratory hygiene
- avoid congregating in groups
- comply with directions from Courts Service staff in relation to the management of the numbers of persons in court buildings and
- if you have symptoms, are a close contact of a person who tested positive for Covid-19, have been directed to restrict your movement or are awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test, you should not to attend court.
Further Information/ Updates
For queries relating to Jury Summons please contact the number provided on your summons and refer to the Courts Service twitter account @CourtsServiceIE.
Courts updates will be provided as and when available, please consult www.courts.ie:
· the Covid-19 Notice pages for regional updates at https://www.courts.ie/covid-19-notices and;
· general Covid-19 updates at https://www.courts.ie/covid-19-response-updates
Pearts Solicitors and Town Agents remains open as an essential service so please feel free to contact us if we can be of any assistance during this time.