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Judicial Office Statement – Remote Working 20.06.20

Please see below the Judicial Office statement in response to concerns raised by the CBA about judicial decisions on remote working.

“There has been no change in the requirements regarding appearing remotely. The Coronavirus 2020 legislation (and sections 57A Crime and Disorder Act  1998 and 56 Criminal Justice Act 2003) permits the court to make a direction allowing a person to take part in a hearing through either a live audio link or a live video link if the court is satisfied that it is in the “interests of justice” in the particular case.

The legislation requires a live link direction to be given in any case in which any participant does not appear in person.   This is a judicial decision.  It has to be made in each case made applying the “interests of justice” test. Clearly, if an advocate is shielding or caring at home for someone who is vulnerable and unable to come to court, then the DJ(MC) or justice may regard the “interests of justice” test as satisfied.

It is recognised that at the beginning of this crisis the guidance issued by the SPJ and DSPJ on 14th April encouraged the use of participation in court proceedings through live video or audio link. It is understood that over the subsequent weeks some latitude was given to appearing remotely by default.

However, we are now not at the same crisis levels and therefore the law and Criminal Procedure Rules should be followed with the expectation that advocates will attend in person unless they have made an application to the court to attend remotely. Such applications do not have to be in writing. Therefore, if an advocate has  a Magistrates’ court hearing on Monday 22nd June and has not applied formally to appear remotely they must either attend court or contact the court applying for leave to attend remotely. This can be done by a phone call or in writing (email).”

Please note this message is sent from the Judicial Office and should not be attributed to any specific judge.

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