Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 22nd September 2020.

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Photo of Paul Holmes Paul Holmes Conservative, Eastleigh

What steps his Department has taken to ensure that courts can continue to operate effectively during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Justice system has operated throughout the pandemic.

o Jury trials, the part of the system we did have to suspend, restarted in May o By Monday 14 September 2020, jury trials will have resumed in 72 Crown Courts

Our buildings are ‘Covid secure’ and social distancing measures are in place o By rolling out plexiglass and other measures, we are on track to open 250 Crown courtrooms by the end of October.

o 110 jury trial rooms are currently in use.

We have swiftly expanded our use of technology so that we can hold more video and audio hearings across all jurisdictions, subject to judicial discretion.

We are rolling out Nightingale Courts across the country, undertaking Saturday sittings, and piloting Covid operating hours in further efforts to support access to justice.

The progress made to introduce online access to services through reform has made a substantial difference in maintaining the operation of the courts and tribunals, enabling more work to continue where reform is more advanced, and underlining the wider value of reform in supporting a more resilient and adaptable service.

Those services which have already been reformed, notably divorce, probate, SSCS, IAC, and jurisdictions using CE-File have proved more resilient to the impact of the pandemic and still been able to process thousands of applications.

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