Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): courts and tribunals guidance

This page provides advice and guidance for all court and tribunal users during the COVID-19 pandemic and will be updated when new advice is available.

Coming to a court or tribunal during the pandemic

Courts and tribunals are open for face to face hearings, such as jury trials. The UK Government removed most legal restrictions to control COVID-19 in July 2021. The Welsh and Scottish Governments removed similar restrictions in August 2021.

Our courts and tribunals in England, Scotland and Wales still have some restrictions in place. We continue to reduce the risk of the virus spreading by:

  • requiring all users to wear a face covering in public and communal parts of our buildings (unless they’re exempt)
  • using screens or barriers where people will come into close proximity with others they do not normally meet
  • assessing our estate for ventilation and continuing with our existing ventilation standards
  • using carbon dioxide monitors as additional assurance in building areas identified through our risk assessment process.

Find out what to expect when coming to a court or tribunal building and how we are keeping our buildings safe and clean.

Do not come to our buildings if:

  • you test positive for COVID-19
  • you have COVID-19 symptoms
  • you’re self-isolating
  • you’re waiting for a test result
  • you’re quarantining after returning from travel abroad
  • you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, and you’re not double vaccinated

You should contact the court or tribunal immediately to let them know and make alternative arrangements.

Make sure you follow the relevant self-isolation rules for England, Wales and Scotland.

In England, you may no longer need to self-isolate following contact with someone who tested positive, for example if you’re fully vaccinated.

Even if you think you do not need to self-isolate, you should get a PCR test and wait for the result before travelling to a court or tribunal. Contact the court first to see if you can make alternative arrangements, such as a video or telephone hearing.

Coming to court as a juror

If you receive a jury summons, you’ll need to attend. Jury staff will contact you to confirm the days and time you need to attend during your service, or if you’re no longer needed.

We encourage you to take a free, rapid lateral flow COVID-19 test before coming to court, which you can order online. We’ll also provide you with a rapid lateral flow COVID-19 test kit when you arrive. You should follow NHS guidance and test yourself twice a week at home whilst doing jury service.

In some of our deliberation rooms, you must wear a fluid-resistant surgical mask. This is because in these you’ll spend time in contact with others you do not normally meet. We provide you with fluid-resistant surgical masks and let you know how to put them on, take them off, store them and dispose of them.

Find out more about doing jury service

Coming to court as a witness

If you’re coming to court as a witness, we have specific advice for providing evidence as a witness.

Find out more about accessing support for victims and witnesses.

Providing evidence as a witness during the coronavirus outbreak

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Coming to court for other reasons

Media and members of the public are able to attend court hearings in person. Contact the court directly for more information.

Getting tested

We encourage you to take a free, rapid lateral flow COVID-19 test before coming to a court or tribunal. These are readily available in your local area, or you can order a test online.

If you’ve been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should get a PCR test and wait for the result first. Even if you do not need to self-isolate (for example if you’re fully vaccinated), contact the court directly and let them know before travelling.

Assessing and managing the COVID-19 risk

We ensure the safety of everyone who comes into our buildings through our court and tribunal coronavirus safety controls, and by following government guidelines and Public Health advice.

Staff in our buildings are working hard to ensure the safety of all users. We encourage all court users to raise any issues in our buildings with local managers.

We assess risk in line with government and Public Health guidance. Please see our organisational risk assessment and assessment tool.

Organisational risk assessment

Local assessment tool - England

Local assessment tool - Wales

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Local assessment tool - Scotland

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These indicators guide local assessments of all our buildings and help us identify and act on any areas of concern.

You can contact the court or tribunal directly to request a copy of an individual COVID-19 risk assessment for our buildings.

Keeping up to date with the impact of COVID-19 on courts and tribunals

We update the operational running of the courts and tribunals through:

Please see the latest advice and guidance from the judiciary in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working towards recovery

In our recovery update, we publish details setting out the we are doing in response to COVID-19. Our vulnerability action plan outlines the way courts and tribunals have changed the way they work to run safely during COVID-19 and enable vulnerable people to access the justice system.

Published 13 March 2020
Last updated 5 November 2021 + show all updates
  1. Organisational risk assessment updated.

  2. Updated links to self-isolation guidance.

  3. Links to self-isolation rules in England, Wales and Scotland added.

  4. Local assessment tool - Wales and Scotland added.

  5. Added translation and updated organisational risk assessment.

  6. Updated advice for Wales and Scotland incorporated.

  7. Advice for jurors updated.

  8. Guidance updated to include step 4 of the government roadmap in England from 19 July 2021.

  9. Updated risk assessment published.

  10. Guidance for witnesses coming to court updated.

  11. Updated following 17 May changes.

  12. Covid testing information updated.

  13. Update to national lockdown rules.

  14. Assessment tool document updated.

  15. organisational risk assessment updated.

  16. Updated reference to local testing.

  17. Update Welsh guide on providing evidence as a witness.

  18. Guidance on giving evidence as a witness updated

  19. Added translation

  20. Guidance updated to confirm that people doing jury service are considered to be critical workers and reconfirm when to not attend court due.

  21. Added translation

  22. Message on social distancing updated.

  23. Change to link to national lockdown rules from 5 January 2021.

  24. Updated local restriction tiers guidance

  25. Local tier restrictions replace national lockdown.

  26. Updated the Assessment Tool document

  27. Updated HMCTS organisational risk assessment published.

  28. Update on when you should not come to a court or tribunal building.

  29. Added translation

  30. Update on self-isolation and court attendance.

  31. Updated Welsh assessment tool.

  32. Guidance on giving evidence as a witness updated.

  33. Adding infomation on local COVID alert levels.

  34. Added translation

  35. Guidance revised and updated.

  36. Additional guidance for regular court users and witnesses providing evidence during coronavirus document updated.

  37. Guidance for witnesses providing evidence during coronavirus updated.

  38. Additional safety guidance updated.

  39. Providing evidence as a witness during the coronavirus outbreak updated in Welsh.

  40. Providing evidence as a witness during the coronavirus outbreak document updated.

  41. Updated 'Additional safety guidance for regular court users' document

  42. Updated from jury trials working group 22 May 2020

  43. Jury trails and safety information updated.

  44. Jury service info updated.

  45. Jury trials judicial working group added

  46. Jury service section updated.

  47. Coming to court section amended

  48. Updated with link to new guidance on keeping court and tribunal buildings safe, secure and clean.

  49. Added priority courts and tribunals information.

  50. Added social distancing infomation.

  51. Update to jury service information

  52. Applications to adjourn civil and family hearings because of coronavirus link added

  53. HMCTS cleanliness and hygiene measures updated.

  54. Updated HMCTS priorities added.

  55. Telephone and video guidance updated.

  56. Jury service gudiance added.

  57. Additional secuity guidance when entering our buildings

  58. First published.