With the country braced once more to enter another national lockdown, there has been confirmation that the Courts will be allowed to stay open.
A comment from a group of senior judges said: ‘It is vital for the well-being of the country that the administration of justice continues to operate. The legal profession, the parties, jurors, witnesses, judges, magistrates and court staff are all key workers, vital to the continued running of the courts and tribunals in this proposed period of renewed significant restrictions. ‘Our experience since March has left us much better prepared. HMCTS will continue to follow and implement public health advice to reduce risk.’
It’s that bit about being ‘better prepared’ that we’re really on board with.
The last time we faced a national lockdown, none of us knew how long it would last or how we’d be able to come out if it.
Clearly, with the infection rate still rising, there are new lessons to be learned, and this second lockdown will have different difficulties, especially given the time of year, but we are, nevertheless, better prepared.
We’re not talking about how many toilet rolls we’re stashing away, or about our home gyms, new hobbies, DIY projects etc...
...we’re talking about being ready for the legal system to continue without too much disruption. The uncertainties of the last lockdown allowed huge back logs to build up, and caused undue amounts of stress for people on each side of every argument.
Efforts were made to facilitate remote hearings, and whilst these have helped, the accountability and process that come with face to face judgements should never be underestimated.
To put it simply, going to court in person is taken much more seriously than going to court from your kitchen table via zoom.
You don’t even need to wear pants for that.
On a more serious note, we do of course support the efforts to continue with remote hearings where necessary, and agree with supporting the clinically and financially vulnerable, but we are pleased on behalf of our clients, that people will be allowed to leave their homes to attend court in person.
There is no question that the legal system is an essential public service, and there is comfort in knowing that justice will prevail throughout lockdown number 2.