CBA Questionnaire: Safety
During lockdown our access to the courts has been reduced considerably and indeed the position has and remains, that where necessary, preliminary and administrative hearings are to be conducted remotely.
At some point that will begin to change and so it is highly important that we have all had a say as to what we expect to have taken place within the court estate, so that as practitioners we feel confident and safe when we do finally begin to go back to those buildings.
The relates to an extremely limited number of cases at two court centres beginning on the 18th May 2020. The Lord Chief Justice also noted that these would only recommence with “special arrangements to maintain the safety of all participants and the jury in line with Public Health England and Public Health Wales guidelines.“
The CBA is working hard to achieve further clarity for the profession. We will ask for a published timetable to outline our to return to work (where safe and feasible).
The return to trials will be very slow and necessarily measured. Likewise, a return to the conducting of other hearings will also be slow and highly managed. A protocol is required for all of those hearings.
HMCTS during this enforced COVID 19 break, has been doing a huge amount of work. I have spoken with the Head of HMCTS, Susan Acland-Hood about this and her team have been working very hard. Everyone including the Judiciary recognises that we must not only feel safe when we go back into the buildings but that our working areas, must also be as safe as is possible, during the next phased steps. We are a fundamental part of the court process and so we are being consulted.
The questionnaire is relatively simple; it may appear obvious but the strength of your feelings in respect of certain questions will help identify those extremely important issues which are a must.
Please take the time to fill in the questionnaire. We would like answers by 4pm on Thursday 14th May.
Caroline Goodwin QC