HMTCS operational update
HMTCS operational update week commencing 16th November 2020
- Further to announcements on the national restrictions in England, the national rules in Wales and restrictions in Scotland, courts and tribunals will continue to operate within COVID-secure guidelines. The Lord Chief Justice and Senior President of Tribunals have published a message about the new national COVID-19 restrictions for England (1 November 2020) and what this means for courts and tribunals. As an essential public service, the work of the courts and tribunals continues and there are currently no plans to change scheduled hearings. We are following public health advice and are experienced in managing COVID-secure ways of working with a range of mitigating measures in place.
- Updated: A reminder that court and tribunal users must wear a face covering in all public and communal parts of our buildings in England and Wales. This includes robing rooms. This is in line with Government advice on face coverings (England), Face coverings: guidance for public (Wales) and COVID-19 stage 3: staying safe and protecting others (Scotland).
- Updated: We’ve updated our Organisational Risk Assessment so we can continue to ensure the safety of anyone entering our buildings during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Reminder: All court and tribunal users are reminded to familiarise themselves with the criteria of a ‘close contact’ and what is meant by ‘contact’ with someone who has tested positive as stated in public health guidance.
- You should not come to any of our court and tribunal buildings if you have coronavirus symptoms, if you have tested positive for COVID-19 or if you have been instructed by the NHS to self-isolate. Please contact the court or tribunal before you are due to attend so that suitable arrangements can be made for your hearing. Read our guidance about coming to court during the pandemic. While public health legislation allows those involved in legal proceedings to come out of self-isolation when necessary, you must consult with the court or tribunal first who will consider and decide on appropriate arrangements.
- Updated: Professional Court User (PCU) WiFi will no longer be available in our buildings from 15 January 2021. Users will need to register for a GovWiFi account before this date. Simply Text ‘Go’ to 07537417417 to get connected. This is a one time registration only. You will then be able to connect wherever GovWiFi is available. If users have any technical difficulties, they should contact the BT Service Desk on 0845 600 6909.
- Our Courts and Tribunals Service Centres are available from 8am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 4pm on Fridays until further notice. Courts and Tribunals Service Centre - advice on contacting HMCTS during coronavirus (PDF, 218KB, 5 pages).
- The Prisoner Escort and Custody Service (PECS) updated their safety policies with regards to COVID-19 from Monday 26 October 2020, in order to minimise the risk of transmission. PECS will still primarily manage the safety of staff, detainees and visitors to the court custody suite via social distancing. Defence representatives and visitors to custody suites must wear their own face coverings at all times, unless they have a practical reason (exemption) not to.
- Jury trials have resumed in 79 Crown Courts and are running in 5 Nightingale Courts and 4 other existing court locations.
- Updated: We have installed plexiglass screens in 237 court rooms and 153 jury deliberation rooms so far. Further installations are planned for November 2020.
- We are installing new Portakabin® buildings to provide temporary rooms for jury deliberations. We have installed Portakabin buildings so far at 13 court locations (Birmingham, Bradford, Caernarfon, Grimsby, Guildford, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Newcastle, Northampton, Preston, Teesside and Woolwich).
- Section 28 for vulnerable victims and witnesses in Crown Courts rolled out to more Crown Courts. It provides the option to pre-record evidence in advance of a trial for vulnerable complainants of a crime, as well as witnesses, including children.
- Crown Courts continue to deal with a range of work remotely, including sentencing hearings and all urgent applications including applications for bail and applications to extend custody time limits. Pre-trial preparation hearings and further case management hearings are also taking place.
- Magistrates’ courts are now dealing with most business type hearings. Since August 2020, magistrates’ courts have been completing more cases than have been received and the number of sittings are almost at pre-COVID levels. We are working hard to return this to 100%, in a COVID-safe way.
- The judiciary has published a note of listing in magistrates’ courts during coronavirus outbreak.
- Common Platform is our new, digital case management system, now beginning rollout to a series of early adopter courts. As each court goes live with Common Platform, defence solicitors and barristers will need to register for accounts before any hearings they attend. This will allow on-the-day check-in, self-serving access to case material, and linking to a case/defendant for payment purposes for the Legal Aid Agency.
- All questions about paying an outstanding criminal court fine should be sent to our National Compliance and Enforcement Service at NCESWE@justice.gov.uk or call 0300 123 9252.
- Updated: We are introducing multi-factor authentication to MyHMCTS, to provide additional security protection to account users.
- Family courts business priorities. Family court business priorities w/c 16 November 2020 (PDF, 87.6KB, 1 page).
- Since 2 November 2020 all grant of probate (where there is a will) applications must be made using MyHMCTS - the online service for professionals to issue, pay for and manage applications within civil and family courts and tribunals.
- Family court C100 (child arrangements) guidance. Family court: Child Arrangements C100 application guidance (PDF, 73.1KB, 1 page).
- Civil court listing priorities. Civil court listing priorities w/c 16 November 2020 (PDF, 76.3KB, 1 page).
- Possession cases have restarted following a pause in March 2020. We have published a page that contains updated forms and documents to reactivate a possession case, as well as information for claimants and defendants on possession cases.
- The Judiciary have published various updates, user help guides and frequently asked questions documents on their website.
Royal Courts of Justice
- The Royal Courts of Justice operational update: The Royal Courts of Justice operational update w/c 16 November 2020 (PDF, 78.7KB, 1 page).
- The High Court is covering work according to the High Court Contingency Plan.
- Queen’s Bench Masters Listing and Action Department Information for Court Users (PDF, 580KB, 14 pages)
- Queen’s Bench Division Information for Court Users (PDF, 279KB, 4 pages)
- More detailed guidance for the Administrative Court Office. Administrative Court Office guidance (PDF, 556KB, 8 pages)
- The Court of Appeal Civil Division is covering work according to the RCJ Court of Appeal Civil urgent business priorities. Court of Appeal Civil urgent business priorities w/c 16 November 2020 (PDF, 90.7KB, 1 page).
- The Court of Appeal Criminal Division is covering work according to the RCJ Court of Appeal Criminal Emergency Plan. RCJ Court of Appeal Criminal Division update w/c 16 November 2020 (PDF, 102KB, 3 pages).
- Royal Courts of Justice Fees Office Information for Court Users (PDF, 436KB, 2 pages)
- The Senior Costs Judge has published a note on hearings and detailed assessments in the Senior Courts Costs Office Senior Courts Costs Office update (PDF, 64.6KB, 3 pages).