Practitioners are reminded to wear face masks in court Messages

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Practitioners are reminded to wear face masks in court as coronavirus cases continue to increase across the country.

A July notice from Presiding Judge Kate Thirlwall and Deputy Presiding Judge Charles Haddon-Cave urging judges to “strongly encourage” everyone in court to wear face masks has been reissued.

They say judges and judges should “continue to strongly encourage the wearing of masks / face-covers by all in the courtroom except the judge / presiding judge, attorney speaking and testifying witness.” Jurors should be “strongly encouraged” to wear face masks / coverings in their rest rooms.

In a separate update released this month, Duncan Webster OBE JP, national conduct judge, advised that face covering is now a legal requirement in most indoor public spaces.

He said: “The new guidelines issued by the Chief Executive Officer in July 2021 remain unchanged. The judiciary should strongly encourage everyone in the courtroom to wear face-covering except for the presiding judge, the attorney speaking and the witness who testifies. “

The government’s guidelines on going to court during the pandemic have been updated to take into account that England moved to Plan B on December 8th following the government’s response to the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

In public and municipal parts of the building, users of the court must wear face covering. Jurors must wear a liquid-resistant face mask in the meeting room.

The day after England moved on to Plan B, the Lord Chief Justice and the high-ranking President of the Tribunals said that “the hearings should continue to be held in person, alongside the effective use of video hearings and remote participation when it is in the interests of justice”.

However, fears for practitioners’ safety continue to grow.

On Friday, the Law Society revealed that a request to revert to an earlier version of the police station protocol, where practitioners would remotely provide advice to the police station, was denied by the police. The most recent protocol, released on October 4, called for a return to face-to-face presence, except in certain circumstances.

Company President I. Stephanie Boyce said, “We strongly disagree with the police’s decision to refuse to return to remote legal counseling at the police station. “It is vitally important to detain the basic right to have attorneys present, with the need to keep everyone safe. We have always made it clear that personal advice is preferable, but given the rapid spread of the new Covid variant, the pendulum has swung once again. “


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