The Courts Service and the judiciary have decided to continue the current protocols for court business, after the Government’s latest extension of restrictions under level five of its COVID-19 plan.
In a notice on the Courts Service website, they said existing protocols would continue until 5 April.
“The Courts Service and the judiciary continue to review the situation on an ongoing basis, taking into consideration Government and public-health advice, as well as required lead-in times for a phased increase of court business,” the notice said.
Trials scheduled for the Central and Circuit Criminal Courts up to 5 April will not now go ahead. This decision is subject to ongoing review.
High Court notice
Trials in the Central Criminal Court will, however, resume on 6 April, but a notice from the President of the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine, said the safety of continuing with such trials would be reviewed on a weekly basis.
In the Special Criminal Court, trials with a single accused person, which started from 1 March, will continue.
High Court civil jury actions scheduled for hearing from Tuesday 27 April have been cancelled, however, and no civil jury actions will take place before the start of the Trinity Term on 2 June.
The next High Court civil jury callover is scheduled for 3 June, with the jury actions scheduled for two weeks beginning 29 June.
Both of these dates are dependent on the public-health measures in place at the time.
Remote business to continue
In general, across the courts, the work that has been conducted remotely will continue, with expansion of further technical solutions and remote capabilities to more courts nationwide, including the District Court.
Priority will continue to be given, however, to urgent matters to be heard in-person.
The President of the Circuit Court, Ms Justice Patricia Ryan, has issued a notice on work in the Circuit Court, where jury trials in criminal cases will resume from 12 April.
A notice issued last month by the then President of the District Court, Judge Colin Daly, extending from 7 January to 5 April the measures adopted by the court for the conduct of criminal, civil, family-law and child-care business, also still applies.
Notices and practice directions from the court presidents issued earlier this year confirming how business will be conducted in their courts should now be considered to apply for the month of March up to 6 April.
The Courts Service says every effort is being made to conduct as much business as is safely possible, but it warns that, given the evolving situation, court business may need to be postponed at short notice.
The notice stresses that a person attending a court or court office to conduct legal or court business continues to be recognised by Government as travelling for essential services under COVID-19 restrictions, and can travel beyond 5km for that purpose.
More details of COVID-19 notices, including regional updates, are available on the Courts Service website.