High Court Civil Proceedings in Level 5
In light of public health guidance as to the value of face coverings in reducing the spread of Covid 19, all persons, save for those who for medical or other welfare considerations cannot wear a face covering or who are operating from behind a protective screen, should do so whilst on any court premises or within its precincts unless the presiding judge, in the interests of justice, otherwise directs.
Proceedings and Applications
The following work will continue subject to (i) staff availability, (ii) the availability of Technology/WIFI enabled courtrooms, (iii) strict compliance with public health guidance and the Court’s own guidance on face coverings and weekly review:
- All non-remote applications and proceedings at hearing at the time of the introduction of Level 5;
- All applications and proceedings that are currently being heard remotely or are capable of being heard remotely;
- All applications and proceedings which can fairly be classified as urgent;
- All applications for injunctions and their enforcement and applications which must be brought within a time limit provided for by statute;
- All Judicial Review ex parte applications;
- All bail applications;
- All Article 40/Habeas Corpus applications;
- All applications for extradition;
- All wardship applications;
- Applications to appoint an Interim Examiner or Provisional Liquidator.
- All urgent Hague Convention and Child care matters.
- All case management/directions hearings, lists to fix dates and “for mention” lists, where capable of being dealt with remotely.
Given limited courtroom availability, strict adherence to time estimates given for hearings will be imposed.
Where any applications/proceedings are henceforth placed on a remote platform in response to Covid-19, save where otherwise directed or provided for by specific Practice Direction (such as HC 93), all relevant papers must be lodged by 12 noon on the Thursday before the proposed hearing date.
In light of the risks posed by Covid-19, the presiding judge shall, in respect of all applications and proceedings, have discretion, either in the interests of public safety or the administration of justice, to bring any application or proceeding to an end with immediate effect.
Remote Hearings: Safety Note
Practitioners are reminded that Covid-19 Level 5 is designed to stop the spread of infection by reducing unnecessary contact between people. And, while remote hearings have the effect of reducing contact between significant numbers of people on the day of a hearing, the benefit of that reduction is lost if, in the run-up to the hearing, clients and lawyers meet in the normal way. Accordingly, pre-trial consultations and negotiations should, where possible, be held otherwise than in a corporeal setting.
The following work will not proceed:
- All non-urgent witness actions including Non Jury, Chancery, Commercial and Personal Injuries actions. Subject to any additional guidance notified in the Legal Diary, parties have liberty to apply by email to the registrar in charge of the relevant list should any urgent witness action need to be determined.
- Personal Injuries Actions at country venues. All cases currently listed for hearing during the Level 5 restrictions* will be called over remotely on the last day of the planned sittings. Consent orders will be made, and infant and fatal cases ruled, as required.
- Circuit Appeals at Country venues. All such appeals will be called over remotely on the last day of the planned sittings. Consent orders will be made and all settlements requiring court approval, ruled.
- All work in the Masters Court will cease. All summonses issued in family law proceedings will, until further notice, be made directly returnable to the High Court.
- Common Law and all other Motions, save where the same can be heard remotely, will cease. In respect of proceedings in which all parties are legally represented, immediate efforts will be made to put all motions onto a remote platform. Parties have liberty to apply by email to the registrar in charge of the relevant list should any urgent application need to be determined.
- All applications and proceedings in the Bankruptcy list. All applications and proceedings will be adjourned until such time as Level 5 restrictions are lifted. Parties have liberty to apply by email to the registrar in charge of the list should any urgent application need to be determined.
* this notice originally mentioned "during the Michaelmas term"
The fact that certain proceedings or applications cannot be heard during the currency of the Level 5 period, does not mean that the parties should not use their best endeavours to achieve a negotiated settlement. The vast majority of proceedings are settled in advance of any hearing and the opportunity to negotiate a settlement remains the same as if the hearing date could be maintained.Likewise, depending on the dispute at hand, parties are advised to consider the possibility of mediation. However, as is stated above, all such negotiations or mediations should in the spirit of Covid-19 Level 5, where at all possible, be held otherwise than in a corporeal setting.
Parties and their legal representatives are asked to closely monitor the Legal Diary and the Courts Service website for greater detail concerning all lists.
20th October 2020