From 30 March 2020, the court and tribunal buildings will be consolidated, with 157 “priority” courts remaining open for essential face to face hearings.
The Lord Chief Justice has said
“These temporary adjustments to how we use the court estate will help ensure that we can continue to deal with work appropriately in all jurisdictions whilst safeguarding the well-being of all those who work in and visit the courts.”
Media and members of the public will be able to attend priority court hearings in person, if safe to do so in line with Public Health England guidance, thereby ensuring the principle of open justice. Where this is not possible, judicial consideration will be given to them joining a hearing remotely or a transcript provided afterwards.
In addition, a further 124 courts and tribunal buildings will remain closed to the public but will be open as “staffed courts” to support video and telephone hearings, progress cases without hearings and ensure continued access to justice.
The judicial system has rapidly expanded its technological capabilities to handle more hearings virtually, either through video or telephone conferencing. It is therefore no longer necessary to adjourn winding up petitions as they can now be heard virtually.
Parties should follow temporary practice direction 51Y in relation to remote hearings, which can be found here: https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/pdf/update/116th-civil-pd-making-doc.pdf
An email advising parties of steps to be taken prior to the hearing states the following;