The current surge in the incidence rate of Covid 19 has resulted in unprecedented numbers of Courts Service staff, Judges, practitioners and witnesses unable to attend at Courthouses. This position is reflected across the justice sector. The President of the District Court, has decided, in consultation the Courts Service that as a consequence the Courts Service will be unable to support all Courts in the Dublin Metropolitan District scheduled for the week commencing the 28th March 2022.
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 staffing levels, Judicial availability, Government announcements, and public health guidance.
The President of the District Court has decided the following additional measures concerning the business of the Court in the Dublin Metropolitan District will be implemented from the 28th March 2022:
- Criminal Law
An accused if legally represented is excused from attending. Un-represented accused should attend in person.
In relation to regulatory or Road Traffic Act (RTA) matters, the accused, if represented, may produce documents or plead via a solicitor, if they are not in jeopardy. Otherwise, all regulatory and RTA matters not specially fixed for hearing will be block adjourned to a date to be fixed by the Court.These are primarily matters dealt with in Court 8 CCJ and Court 8, Aras Ui Dhalaigh, but may include such cases listed in other courts.
All remands where the accused is in custody should be dealt with by video-link. pursuant to s.23 (3) and (14) of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 and I have issued a Practice direction with effect from the 31st December 2021 in that regard.
- Family Law
All family law business will proceed as normal until further notice although some cases may have to be adjourned due to absence of persons described in the opening paragraph hereof.
- Child Care Law
All Child Care cases will proceed as normal until further notice.If the parties have reached agreement then a consent order may issue in accordance with Practice Direction DC14 which can be found on the Court Service website.
Consent adjournments can be notified to the relevant court office by email and new dates will be provided by return email to the parties.
- Civil and Licensing Matters
All District Court Civil and Licensing matters and Small Claims listed for Court 23, the Four Courts, will be adjourned to a date assigned by the Court. Where a party is legally represented they need not attend court, and their solicitor or barrister will inform them of the new court date; otherwise the office will inform the parties.
A case which does not come into the defined category above, may be treated as urgent if a good case can be made. A party can email the relevant court office setting out the reasons why the case should be considered urgent. This should be on notice to the other side who must be given an opportunity to set out their position.
Those attending court are requested to observe public health guidance regarding social distancing, hand hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette and use of face coverings while in the court building and the court room.
The Courts Service has set out guidance on how to access the courts safely and we expect all court users to observe this guidance. The Courts Service has put measures in place to help people safely navigate their way through court buildings and again we ask for your cooperation. In the event that courts cannot be conducted safely Judges may have to suspend cases until a safe environment can be achieved.
These measures will come into effect from Monday 28th March and will be reviewed regularly and will remain in place until Monday 4th April 2022.
Please note that apart from the above, absence of key personnel including judges, court staff, Gardai, Prison Service and practitioners may also result in individual cases being unable to proceed as planned. Every effort will be made to minimise disruption.
Judge Paul Kelly
President of the District Court.