Practice Direction for all claims (excluding personal injury claims) in which oral evidence will be given.

Practice Direction for all claims (excluding personal injury claims) in which oral evidence will be given.


To enable actions requiring oral evidence to proceed in a manner which complies with public health guidance and to protect the safety of court users during Covid-19 restrictions, the following practice direction will take effect from 13 July 2020.


  1. All persons attending at any court for the hearing of a claim which will involve the giving of oral evidence must comply with current public health advice. In particular, all such persons should engage in frequent hand washing and comply with respiratory etiquette.
  2. Whilst on the court premises all persons shall remain physically distanced in accordance with current Department of Health advice, which at this time is 2 meters.
  3. Anyone with any symptoms of Covid-19 i.e. temperature, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties or cough, or who feels in anyway unwell, should not attend at a courthouse and should seek healthcare advice.
  4. Whilst face coverings are not mandatory at present, it is advised that all persons, save for those who, for medical or other welfare considerations, cannot wear a face covering, should do so unless giving evidence, questioning a witness or addressing the court.
  5.  The wearing of face coverings does not excuse any person or persons from their obligation to abide by social distancing requirements as these can be met, albeit with some inconvenience.
  6. Each courtroom has been assessed for capacity having regard to Covid-19 restrictions. The number of persons who can be accommodated in any courtroom will appear on the door and that number may never be exceeded. Any additional persons concerned with the case must wait beyond the precincts of the courthouse until required. To reduce inconvenience, solicitors should ensure that they only summon to court those witnesses likely to be heard on any given day.
  7. Only when a case is called on for hearing should those concerned with that claim enter upon the court premises. At that point all such persons should proceed directly to the courtroom when the case should be ready to start.
  8. Those attending any case must, on entering the courthouse, proceed directly to the courtroom and remain there until the planned sitting comes to an end, save where a witness, having completed their evidence, wishes to leave, in which case they should leave the courthouse directly.
  9. No negotiations or consultations may take place at or in the courthouse. These must be held at a different venue, preferably in the weeks or days in advance of the hearing. Any negotiations as may take be required on the day of the hearing must take place beyond the precincts of the courthouse.
  10. To reduce the duration of such claims and the number of witnesses as might otherwise be called, the parties should agree (i) as many facts as possible (ii) the legal principles to be applied (iii) expert reports (in whole or in part) and (iv) the issues that remain to be determined in light of what it has not been possible to agree.
  11. For “track and trace purposes”, the solicitor for each party shall prepare in advance of the hearing and leave with the registrar at the conclusion of the proceedings, a document containing the name and telephone number of each individual (counsel, solicitor, party, witness/other) who entered the courthouse in conjunction with the case. The names of those who did not actually attend should be removed. The consent of those listed should be obtained for GDPR purposes. Such records to be destroyed 14 days after the conclusion of the proceedings.
  12. Once a case is over, all persons concerned must leave the building promptly.
  13. The persons involved in the next case will not be allowed to enter the building until it is cleared of all persons involved in the previous case.



President of the High Court

Mary Irvine

7th July 2020




High court