A new tool to help solicitors and members of the public find out which courts are operational throughout the emergency period has been released by the Law Society of England and Wales.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has previously announced the consolidation of courts and tribunals work into fewer buildings in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Our interactive heatmap shows which courts and tribunal buildings continue to be operational. It will be updated as more data becomes available.
Simon Davis, president of the Law Society said: “The safety of both court-users and those who work within the justice system is of the utmost importance. We must also find ways to keep the wheels of justice turning.
“The courts have now directed that all matters that can be dealt with remotely should be. However, there are some urgent and important cases in which a physical presence will be required to ensure justice can be done.
“This tool illustrates which courts and tribunals buildings continue to be operational. Where appropriate steps are taken to ensure good hygiene, appropriate distancing, and compliance with all other relevant guidance to minimise risk, they should be safe to attend.”
The status of the courts and tribunals buildings is:
- 159 open courts – these buildings are open to the public for essential face-to-face hearings
- 117 staffed courts – staff and judges will work from these buildings, but they are not open to the public. All other parties that may be involved in the video or telephone hearings being supported at staffed courts will only be able to attend these remotely
- 75 suspended courts – these courts will be temporarily closed
Simon Davis added: “With the extensive adoption of remote methods of working, the question will inevitably arise to what extent we can, or even should, return wholesale to previous ways of working once this crisis subsides.
“The reality is that such a profound shift will likely alter permanently how we uphold justice and the rule of law.
“Therefore we must monitor carefully which of the technological solutions are sustainable for the long term, to ensure that increases in efficiencies do not inadvertently come at the expense of justice being not only done but seen to be done.
“Courts must be able to re-open once this crisis abates. We must be wary to avoid any risk of significant and permanent damage to the public’s ability to access to justice.”
Notes to editors
- Courts and tribunals tracker list – this is regularly updated showing which courts are open, staffed and suspended during the coronavirus pandemic
- Court and tribunal finder – find contact details and information about courts and tribunals in your area
- Courts and tribunals planning and preparation – provides advice and guidance for all court and tribunal users during the coronavirus pandemic
- HMCTS daily operational summary on courts and tribunals – provides a daily summary of the HMCTS operational position during the coronavirus pandemic
- HMCTS telephone and video hearings – guidance on how HMCTS will use telephone and video technology during the coronavirus pandemic
About the Law Society
The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.
Press office contact: Liam McCafferty | 020 8049 2028