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News from the front: Attending court in the new term

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By Lisa Broderick & Rowena McCormack


Published 27 October 2021


The Courts Service has provided an update regarding the current measures in place for Court users during the Michaelmas legal term. Anyone attending Court is asked to adhere to its most recently published guidelines. These include:


Court Service Measures - Michaelmas Term 2021

The Courts Service has provided an update regarding the current measures in place for Court users during the Michaelmas legal term. Anyone attending Court is asked to adhere to its most recently published guidelines. These include:

  • Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 or who has been advised that they are a close contact of someone with Covid-19 should not attend at court premises;
  • Everyone entering a Courts Service premises, save for medical or other welfare considerations, is expected to wear a face covering.
  • Physical distancing measures will remain, and capacity numbers will remain in place for all courtrooms and some other spaces within court buildings until further notice. The capacity of each court will be posted on the door of the court;
  • The use of staggered lists, video link to prisons and remote call-overs and courts will continue to assist with management of footfall in buildings.
  • Bar rooms will be available for use however not all consultation rooms are currently available. Consultation rooms may be available in certain court buildings once they have been risk assessed by local management and found to be safe to open.

A full list of the Court’s Covid-19 response updates can be found here.


Supreme Court

Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s Revised Practice Direction 19, the Supreme Court proposes to recommence the physical hearing of appeals in the Four Courts in October 2021. To facilitate the health and safety of participants and of the public to the extent possible it is expected that:

  1. Persons will not attend appeal hearings if they are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms or have tested positive for Covid-19.
  2. Persons attending will wear a face covering at all times unless they are addressing the Court and will exercise good respiratory and hand hygiene and practice social distancing.
  3. Parties will be entitled to make an application for a hearing to proceed remotely if they can establish a good reason.

The Court will also adopt the measures set out in the Court Service’s Notice for Michaelmas Term (set out above). Case management hearings and other court business will continue to be conducted remotely unless a party puts forward a cogent reason why a physical hearing is necessary. These arrangements will be reviewed after 22 October 2021.


High Court – Case Management Plan

On 23 September 2021, Ms. Justice Mary Irvine, President of the High Court, published a notice on the manner in which proceedings and applications will be heard in the High Court going forward. The notice is effective from 4 October.

The default position, as outlined in Ms. Justice Irvine’s notice, is that any actions involving witnesses will be heard by way of physical hearing. Proceedings which do not require oral evidence may be listed for virtual hearing and applications currently heard on a Monday will be listed for virtual hearing. The notice states, however, that proceedings and applications will only be listed for virtual hearing where they can be heard “as fairly and effectively as they would be heard in the course of a physical hearing” and in all cases, the parties will be entitled to apply to have their case listed otherwise than in accordance with the default position set out in the notice.

The notice details the approach to be taken in individual categories of cases and outlines that a number of lists, including the bankruptcy, chancery motions, commercial court motions, examiners’ court, summary summons and wardship lists will be heard remotely, whilst the chancery proceedings, civil jury, family law and personal insolvency lists will be heard physically. A hybrid approach will be taken in respect of a number of other lists.

From a practical perspective, if a practitioner has a number of matters listed in court, some of which are physical hearings and others of which are virtual, it is possible to attend the virtually listed matters in person also, in the appropriate court room.

To see a full copy of Ms. Justice Irvine’s notice, click here.


High Court – Remote Hearings

The publication of links to the various High Court lists for remote hearings and call overs has been streamlined meaning that the Pexip room codes will no longer be published for court lists with the exception of the Special Care, Garda Compensation, and Hague Luxembourg Convention Lists. This means that the room code for motion lists, call-overs and hearings will be the number that is associated with the presiding Judge on a given day.

Therefore, practitioners are advised to check the legal diary daily to identify the Judge assigned to the particular matter/call-over/list. The connection details and relevant codes associated with the presiding Judges are available in the respective membership sections of the Bar of Ireland and Law Society websites.