Update released on arrangements for hearings in Rolls building amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

Update released on arrangements for hearings in Rolls building amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

Delivery Manager and Admiralty Marshal for England and Wales, Paul Farren, has released an update relating to the Rolls Building and the changes to the arrangements for hearings from 1 June 2020 during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to Farren, from 1 June 2020, there are likely to be four kinds of hearing taking place:

• fully remote hearings with the judge at home

• remote hearings with the judge in their office or court in the Rolls Building

• hybrid hearings with the judge and some participants in court, and some participating remotely

• normal physical hearings in which all the participants attend in person

Farren states that ‘the decision as to which sort of hearing is appropriate in a given case will be a judicial decision’ and that they are initially  working towards only 13 courts in the Rolls Building being suitable for hybrid or normal physical hearings, and ‘therefore majority of hearings will probably continue to take place remotely’. Also, he mentions that for the Chancery Division ‘efforts will continue to be made to allocate hearings to judges a week in advance for them to decide how the hearing will proceed’.

In relation to what kind of hearing is to take place, Farren declares that: ‘In the event that there is a hearing which parties consider would be appropriate for either a hybrid or normal physical hearing, in the first place this should be discussed with all the parties concerned. Assuming such a hearing is agreed between both parties, they should then contact the relevant Listing team on a joint basis to propose either a hybrid or normal physical hearing and to enquire as to the arrangements that will be in place should it be possible for the court to accommodate such a hearing in that case’.

Farren also notes that ‘the number of people that will be permitted in a single court at any given time will be limited to ensure social distancing is possible. In addition, hearings will have staggered starts to avoid queues forming outside.’

Finally, Farren mentions that: ‘At the moment we are all working to ensure that suitable steps are taken for staff, judiciary and parties attending court to safely social distance. It is likely that the majority of staff will still be working remotely but clearly we need more staff on site to support hearings taking place. While this is happening we would like you to continue to help us by not attending the Rolls Building unless it is absolutely essential. Our preferred mode of contacting the court remains by email.’

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