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More courts reopen this week with strict social-distancing

HM Courts & Tribunals Service is reopening another 16 courts this week after they were deemed to be suitable for holding socially-distanced hearings. Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC said the latest development will give people confidence justice can continue to be done safely.

Approximatley 160 Courts have remained open during the Coronavirus Pandemic. In the last few weeks, a further 9 Courts reopened. HMCTS said that 16 further Courts have been assessed and will reopen with strict social-distancing measures in place.

The 16 courts are: Romford Magistrates’ Court, Barnet Civil and Family Centre, Derby Combined Court, Chesterfield Justice Centre, Mansfield Magistrates and County Court, Bolton Combined Court (Crown only), Southend County Court, Horsham Law Courts, Canterbury Combined Court, Aylesbury Crown Court, Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, Salisbury Law Courts, Swindon Magistrates’ Court, Newport Crown Court, Merthyr Tydfil Combined Court, and Llandudno Magistrates’ Court.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, said a remarkable volume of work has continued through lockdown, much of it being conducted by judges from home. ‘Reopening all of the court estate, using additional accommodation and continuing to use technology imaginatively will enable us to return to and surpass pre-lockdown volumes, helping manage the growing caseload’ he said.

Jury trials, which were paused at the start of lockdown, have returned at 7 Crown Courts so far.

In the East Midlands, Mansfield Magistrates’ Court and Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court remain closed with urgent and remand work being heard at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court and Derby Magistrates’ Court respectively. The majority of criminal cases are being adjourned to dates within the next few months and the Courts are only hearing remand/urgent cases. The urgent trials that are going ahead are being conducted largely over a video-link and with strict social-distancing measures in place.