This page provides advice and guidance for all court and tribunal users during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and will be updated when new advice is available.
HMCTS response to coronavirus outbreak
During this unprecedented public health emergency, we’re working hard to keep our justice system functioning. We’re focusing on priority cases, changing working practices and introducing new procedures to minimise risks to the judiciary, staff and all those who use our courts and tribunals.
Please see our daily operational summary on courts and tribunals during the coronavirus outbreak to get the latest information about what is happening across HMCTS. Any changes to individual hearings will be communicated directly to those affected, usually by email and/or phone.
Priority courts during coronavirus outbreak
A network of priority courts will remain open during the coronavirus pandemic to make sure the justice system continues to operate effectively. The work of courts and tribunals will be consolidated into fewer buildings, maintaining the safety of all in the courts and in line with public health advice.
These temporary changes, designed in partnership between HMCTS and the judiciary will help maintain a core justice system focused on the most essential cases.
Since 30 March 2020, we have had priority court and tribunal buildings open for essential face-to-face hearings. Our court and tribunal buildings are divided as follows:
- open courts – these buildings are open to the public for essential face-to-face hearings
- staffed courts – staff and judges will work from these buildings, but they will not be open to the public
- suspended courts – these courts will be temporarily closed
Check if the court or tribunal you plan to visit is open using the tracker on the link below:
Telephone and video hearings during coronavirus outbreak
We’re increasing use of telephone, video and other technology to continue as many hearings as possible remotely. We will make best possible use of the equipment currently available and are working nonstop to update and add to that. Some hearings, the most obvious being jury trials, cannot be conducted remotely.
Coming to court or tribunal during the coronavirus outbreak
All court and tribunal users are reminded you should read the latest information about prevention, treatment, travel and staying at home.
Priority courts will remain open for face to face hearings, making sure that judges, legal professionals, staff and all those attending hearings can maintain effective social distancing.
Media and members of the public will be also able to attend priority court hearings in person if safe to do so, unless self-isolating based on government and NHS advice, or have heard from us.
If you are due to attend a court or tribunal for a hearing you will be contacted by email and/or phone. Read our guidance on changes to court and tribunal hearings for more information. Please do not attend unless you have heard from us.
There is separate advice about:
- staying at home if you’re at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus
- staying at home if you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus
- hearings and trials for those in prison from Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service
Our court and tribunal buildings during coronavirus
We know that people will be particularly concerned about hygiene at present, and though the government advice is that concentrating on hand cleaning is the most important measure, we are putting extra effort into court cleaning.
Our buildings are cleaned every day and we respond swiftly to complaints about poor hygiene. We are monitoring our hand washing facilities to ensure swift maintenance action if needed but, if you see something of concern, please let the court know so they can put things right.
Jury service is an important civic duty and an essential part of the criminal justice system. Following the latest government advice and the Lord Chief Justice announcement on 23 March 2020 on jury trials, we’re continuing to review the situation.
New jury trials
We need to make sure everyone in our court buildings are kept safe. This means all new jury trials are currently postponed.
Planning for future jury trials
We do not know when jury trials will start again. We’re continuing to send jury summonses to make sure jurors are available when trials do start again in the future.
If you receive, or have already received a jury summons for a future date, please keep planning to attend court. But do not go to court until we have been in touch. We’ll contact you nearer the time to confirm if you still need to attend.
At that stage, if government advice says you need to self-isolate you will not be expected to start your jury service. You will need to contact the court to let us know if you’re self-isolating or there’s another reason why you cannot attend.
If you have just received a jury summons and need to speak to someone about your personal circumstances, please contact the Jury Central Summoning Bureau on 0300 456 1024. You can also see our general guidance on jury service.
Keeping up to date with the impact of coronavirus on courts and tribunals
We will communicate changes to the operational running of the courts and tribunals through the following channels:
- updated advice on this guidance page
- daily operational update
- court and tribunal finder
- twitter: @HMCTSgovuk and @MoJGovUK
Read the latest information about the government’s coronavirus response and plans.