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Bar Council gives updated guidance for barristers on attending hearings

The Bar Council has told barristers that the Prime Minister’s message yesterday evening was “clear that everyone must stay at home to inhibit all contact and stall the spread of Covid-19” and that this affects all court hearings. 

It said the latest guidance it could offer was:

Civil or Family Courts: you should not attend in person unless the hearing is genuinely urgent and it cannot be done remotely. Such a hearing will be a rare occurrence. 

Crown Courts: You should not attend the Crown Court in person unless you are in a part heard trial. It will be a judicial decision whether the trial will continue, taking into account representations and the stage reached in the trial. If the jury is in retirement or about to retire, it is highly likely that it will go on, if possible. For all other cases, you should engage with the court through the DCS system to try to move it forward remotely.

Magistrates' Courts: You should not attend the Magistrates' Court in person unless you are in an urgent case today (see the list below). Magistrates' Courts will not be dealing with any other business in person. Magistrates' are being told not to attend. We appreciate that many junior barristers and pupils do this work. As for all barristers, the Bar Council is here to support you, if you need help.

At the moment, the following categories of Magistrates Court work are urgent cases:

CPS

All custody cases, to include:

- Overnight custody cases from police stations (inc. arrest warrants and breach of bail cases)

- Productions from prisons (but custody trials not to proceed)

- Applications to extend custody time limits

Terrorism and extradition (Westminster MC)

- Arrest warrants issued under the Extradition Act

- In hours and out of hours terrorism applications

 Central / Local Government

- Civil applications relating to public health legislation, particularly under the Coronavirus (Emergency) Act 2020

 Police

- Warrants of further detention (police and HMRC)

- Closure order applications

- Urgent applications for DVPOs

- Urgent applications for rights of entry/search warrants

These may change as time goes on.

We are grateful for the commitment and practical steps that you are all taking to ensure that justice can continue to be delivered in these extraordinary times. Please try to do everything you can to keep yourself and others safe.

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