The knock-on effects of COVID-19 on court proceedings have been significant.

Whilst listing arrangements are at still the same, higher levels compared with the position pre-COVID-19, face challenges meaning that some judges and relevant court staff are working over ten hours a day to keep up with currently listed work.

It was suggested that there should be a “fundamental review” of listing arrangements that considers both physical court capacity and the capacity of judges and relevant court staff.

The final oral evidence session of the Committee’s inquiry took place on 24th of March. Points discussed included plans to conduct surveys with relevant user groups by summer 2021 on the impact of remote hearings for vulnerable users and publishing a report in due course, following publication of the HMCTS Vulnerability Action Plan. HMCTS are working with the government on preparing for various scenarios from 21 June 2021. If social distancing is removed, HMCTS will maintain plexiglass and physical arrangements will be put into place in courts, so that if there are social distancing measures due to resurgence of infection in the winter it can “immediately spring back” into social distancing. The Law Society had called on the government to clarify its plans for the courts after 21 June 2021, so this confirmation will be welcome.

A publication of a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, challenges facing the Ministry of Justice, highlighting the significant risks as the MoJ attempts to recover from the pandemic and progress the court reform programme.

The Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS)updated further information on what to expect when joining a telephone or video hearing, which encourages parties or witnesses to ask the court for special arrangements or measures to help make them feel sufficiently safe and comfortable to participate in a remote hearing. More information can be found on