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Courts now video-enabled to avoid mass movement of prisoners
Pic: RollingNews.ie

12 Mar 2020 / courts Print

Courts now video-enabled to avoid prisoner movement

The Courts Service is continuing to follow official HSE instructions.

Courthouses will remain open to all court users and this will remain the case until the official advice is to do otherwise. 

Scenario

“It is not possible at this stage to outline the planned response to every public health scenario. However, scenario planning for various potential situations has been undertaken for both national and local responses,” said a spokesman.

“Plans are in place for various situations which might arise. We will release arrangements in a timely fashion if and when a situation arises regarding the Covid - 19 virus and changes to court hearings. All such changes will be advertised on www.courts.ie “

The Courts Service is working closely with the presidents of all jurisdictions to develop other appropriate contingency plans to allow courts to sit to deal with urgent family, criminal and civil matters. 

Restrictions

On-going discussions are taking place between the Courts Service and other justice agencies to make suitable arrangements in the event of public health restrictions being put on the operation of courts on a regional or nationwide basis.

A meeting has been arranged for today with representatives of the legal professions to discuss the issues. 

“We have doubled our capacity for judges and staff to work remotely – plans and increased capacity will allow 450 people to do so.

"We are developing plans to ensure that the system of family law maintenance payments and other vulnerable users, can continue to be provided,” he said.

Posts 

Clear communication channels are also in place with www.courts.ie as a single place of contact for all information in the event that changes to court hearings might take place. Social media posts will promote use of this channel. 

Video-enabled courtrooms will facilitate custody hearings to take place directly with prisons – thus minimising the need for the mass movement of prisoners to and from courts. 

“Each area and each situation will be different as regards the responses needed, such as cancelling courts, transferring cases, using video technology, closing offices, remotely working, and supporting Courts Services in the event of any closure,” the spokesman said. 

Operational

“Contingency plans by their nature are highly operational and are subject to change given the multiple scenarios that are possible.  We will publicise changes and plans to Courts Sittings in a timely manner, as each situation arises which requires changes to Courts or services,” he said.

 

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland