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Priority Work during the Coronavirus Lockdown
- AuthorRichard Carter
Court Service Issues a List of Priority Work during the Coronavirus Lockdown.
The Courts and Tribunal Service split all Civil court Listings into 2 groups – work that “must” be done and work that “could” be done. This in effect a list of how County Courts will prioritise their work in order to keep the justice system proceeding amid the Coronavirus lockdown. As part of the lockdown fewer Court buildings are opening and more hearings are being carried out remotely.
The categories of work that “must” be done include applications for injunctions, freezing orders, committals, and all multi-track hearings where parties agree that it is urgent. Other work that will be prioritised includes homelessness applications, applications relating to anti-social behaviour or harassment injunctions or any applications where the full trial is to take place within the next 3 months, or where there is a substantial hearing list for the next month.
Work that the Courts are giving less of a priority to, is work that “could” be done and includes applications for summary judgment, applications to set aside judgment in default, applications for security of costs or assessment of costs and applications for interim payments in personal injury or clinical negligence matters or any assessment of damages (stage 3).
A further development has been that insurers and personal injury claimant law firms have agreed a temporary protocol freezing limitation periods so that there is not a rush to issue claims within County Counts because of a 3 or 6 year limitation period is due to expire. However, this only relates to a limited number of matters and the insurers and claimant law firms have to have signed up to the protocol in full.
All of the above applies to County Court work. The High Court and Court of Appeal continue to cover only urgent work and hearings are being conducted remotely where possible.
The lockdown of Courts will have a knock-on effect in respect of future Court hearings and timescales. It is likely that the current Coronavirus lockdown will cause some considerable delay on all matters types, especially those being listed for hearing in 2020.
The Government has already introduced the Coronavirus Act 2020 which restricts Landlords from seeking possession of residential properties where tenants have accrued rent arrears. Court actions to obtain possession of residential properties are unlikely to be heard, or be successful much before September 2020 at the earliest.