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 government has confirmed a move to step 4 and the removal of most legal restrictions to control COVID-19. In Wales, it is hoped most COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted on 7 August 2021. In Scotland, it is hoped all major restrictions will be lifted on 9 August 2021.

From 19 July 2021, based on Public Health expert advice, our courts and tribunals in England will have some restrictions in place. We will 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
  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other where they will come into close proximity with others they do not normally meet
  • assessing our estate for ventilation and continuing with our existing ventilation standards. Carbon dioxide monitors will also be used 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.

If you test positive, have COVID-19 symptoms, are self-isolating, or quarantining after returning from travel abroad, do not come to our buildings.

You should contact the court or tribunal to let them know and follow NHS advice. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should continue to follow the latest government rules and advice. Contact us if you have concerns about coming to one of our buildings.

We have increased the use of telephone, video and other technology to hold many hearings remotely. Your hearing notice will inform you whether it is taking place in person, via video or telephone.

While public health legislation allows those involved in legal proceedings to come out of self-isolation when necessary, you must contact the court or tribunal first who will decide if you need to attend.

Coming to court as a juror

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

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

We will also be offering home test kits to jurors.

More information about Jury service

Coming to court as a witness

If you are 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 will be also able to attend court hearings in person. Contact the court directly for more information.

Getting tested

We encourage individuals 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 order a test online to be sent to you.

If you choose to have a COVID-19 test and test positive, do not come to a court or tribunal building. You should contact the court or tribunal to let them know and follow NHS advice.

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

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 19 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. Guidance updated to include step 4 of the government roadmap in England from 19 July 2021.

  2. Updated risk assessment published.

  3. Guidance for witnesses coming to court updated.

  4. Updated following 17 May changes.

  5. Covid testing information updated.

  6. Update to national lockdown rules.

  7. Assessment tool document updated.

  8. organisational risk assessment updated.

  9. Updated reference to local testing.

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

  11. Guidance on giving evidence as a witness updated

  12. Added translation

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

  14. Added translation

  15. Message on social distancing updated.

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

  17. Updated local restriction tiers guidance

  18. Local tier restrictions replace national lockdown.

  19. Updated the Assessment Tool document

  20. Updated HMCTS organisational risk assessment published.

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

  22. Added translation

  23. Update on self-isolation and court attendance.

  24. Updated Welsh assessment tool.

  25. Guidance on giving evidence as a witness updated.

  26. Adding infomation on local COVID alert levels.

  27. Added translation

  28. Guidance revised and updated.

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

  30. Guidance for witnesses providing evidence during coronavirus updated.

  31. Additional safety guidance updated.

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

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

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

  35. Updated from jury trials working group 22 May 2020

  36. Jury trails and safety information updated.

  37. Jury service info updated.

  38. Jury trials judicial working group added

  39. Jury service section updated.

  40. Coming to court section amended

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

  42. Added priority courts and tribunals information.

  43. Added social distancing infomation.

  44. Update to jury service information

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

  46. HMCTS cleanliness and hygiene measures updated.

  47. Updated HMCTS priorities added.

  48. Telephone and video guidance updated.

  49. Jury service gudiance added.

  50. Additional secuity guidance when entering our buildings

  51. First published.