Mr Sajid Javid MP, The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, made a statement to the House of Commons on 5 July 2021 to provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to a question from Mr Mark Harper (MP for Forest of Dean), Mr Javid confirmed that local authorities will retain powers, until at least the end of September 2021, to impose local COVID-19 restrictions in the event of a local breakout of the virus.
What will happen if Covid cases continue to rise?
If a local breakout of the virus does occur, Solicitors and Barristers alike will be watching with eager interest to see how local courts in the affected areas respond to the re-imposition of restrictions. Although as reported in our previous article (The Courts and Covid – is there a stricter approach?) the courts are appearing to move back to a “business as usual” approach, it seems local courts affected may have to revert from face-to-face hearings back to hearings being conduct remotely via platforms such as Cloud Video platform, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and telephone.
The current situation for the Courts
The courts are currently facing ongoing disruption attempting to re-list hearings that were either adjourned during COVID-19 lockdowns or adjourned due to the unavailability of judges that were either self-isolating or hearing the backlog of cases. The HMCTS management information published on its website, shows that in the week ending 5 April 2020, 3,902 Civil cases were adjourned due to COVID-19. With the ban of residential property evictions being lifted from 1 June 2021, the courts are also facing a growing number of new residential possession claims.
Those intending to submit a claim for issue to the Court (who are able to select which court to submit their claim to) are likely to be keeping a close eye on Court workloads to avoid delays in their claim being issued and being progressed to a hearing.
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