You will all have seen the Guidance issued by the LCJ this morning, applicable to Magistrates, Civil/ Family Courts and Jury Trials.  

In the last few days, the Family Courts and FLBA has made extraordinary progress in bringing in and
using new technology.  Here is the most recent Guidance on Remote Access issued by the Family Court. I fear that the parlous state of the Crown Court estate, neglected and run down for so many years, is going to take longer to clean properly and to implement new solutions.  But HMCTS and court staff are working night and day to try and bring new systems online.    

Please read and consider these new Guidance documents from the SPJ’s office on the safe use of
family, county and crown courts. Given its provenance it is the definitive guidance.  It provides in as succinct a way as I have yet seen clear guidance as to what should be happening in all courts, so you follow PHE advice and keep safe

You are best-placed to determine whether the SPJ’s Guidance is being followed.  So if you think your court is not clean enough and is therefore unsafe, report the problem here:   

I know Resident Judges everywhere are doing their best in these unprecedented circumstances and Crown Courts are planning new ways of working.  Here is an example of some very
welcome proposals from Harrow Crown Court.  As you will see HHJ Dean has invited ideas on how these can be improved.  

We know that the Bar will cooperate, as we all try and find sustainable ways of working safely, for the sake of everyone.  If you are told that lack of resources or staff numbers justify not granting a request for a remote link, I do not think that is acceptable.  The Crown Courts simply have to find new ways of working around this new reality.  With the vacated/ paused trials, there is going to be no shortage of sitting days for the foreseeable future.  I hope it is possible, for example, for the Judges and staff who would have been engaged on these trials to devote the extra time to listing all the urgent/ essential cases in such a way that they can be done safely. The remote Access Procedure within the Family Court is here.  
Best wishes to you all
Mark Fenhalls QC
Leader of the South Eastern Circuit
Copyright © 2020 The South Eastern Circuit, All rights reserved.

update your preferences / unsubscribe from this list