Wednesday 6th January 2021; Following today's Government announcement applying additional Level 5 restrictions to include the closure of schools for most students until end of January, with the goal of reducing mobility nationwide to stem the trajectory of the disease at this time; the Courts Service have activated enhanced Covid-19 Level 5 protocols for the month of January 2021, in agreement with the Judiciary. The Courts Service Covid-19 safety protocols, mapped to each of the five restrictive levels as set out in the Government’s Resilience and Recovery; Living with Covid-19 Framework, have been adopted by the Judiciary and Courts Service since the roll-out of that plan in the Autumn of last year.
As a result of the Government decision and the current situation at this time, criminal trials due to commence in the Central and Circuit Courts will not start during the month of January. The Courts Service and Judiciary recognise that this is an evolving situation which will be kept under review on a regular basis, having regard to Government announcements, public health guidance and the individual circumstances attaching to each trial.
In general, across the various Courts, the work that has been conducted remotely will continue, with further technical solutions and remote capabilities being extended to additional Courts nationwide. Priority will continue to be given to urgent matters such as domestic violence applications.
In assessing the current situation, consideration has been given to staff resourcing and Judicial availability, as well as past experience, new ways of working, previous Practice Directions and Court guidance. The Judiciary and Courts Service are aware of the unique nature of each jurisdiction and the differing implications of restrictions for each across Civil, Criminal and Family areas of law. Working to public health guidance and the agreed Covid-19 safety protocols, each President is seeking to continue to make best use of the new ways of working adopted by the Courts and all court users to ensure continued access to justice during this stage of the pandemic across the jurisdictions. As a result, Notices, Orders and Practice Directions from the respective Presidents confirming how business will be conducted in the Superior, Circuit and District Courts for the initial weeks of 2021 are being published on www.courts.ie this week. Please see below a synopsis of the business planned across each jurisdiction with the relevant website links. Every effort will be made to conduct as much business as is safely possible, however given the evolving situation, court business may, with regret, need to be cancelled at short notice.
The robust Courts Service Covid-19 safety management programme, which has supported zero transmission of the disease within the Courts Service to date, continues to be followed and all protective measures and standards will be maintained. 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.
The Government have advised that working from home should continue and where possible Courts Service staff should do so. Court offices accept 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.
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.
Framework Level 5 – Start of Hilary Term 2021
The full Level 5 restrictions and in support of the Government’s objective to limit movement at this stage in the pandemic for the month of January 2021, matters will be dealt with as follows.
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