Updates to the CPR in response to Covid-19:
3 New Practice Directions have been issued and one existing Practice Direction has been amended as part of the effort to maintain and manage access to the Courts during the Covid-19 pandemic. They can be accessed at the below link. In summary they provide for / cover the following ground:
New Practice Direction 51Y
This makes provision to enable greater use of remote video and audio hearings during the currency of the pandemic. In particular it provides, that where it is not practicable for a hearing to be held in public, the Court can Order that it be held in private; it further provides that such hearings should where practicable be recorded and that recording be made available. Practice Direction 51ZA has since clarified that no formal application is needed to access the recording, merely a “request” of the Court.
New Practice Direction 51Z
Practice Direction 51Z stays all possession proceedings under CPR Part 55, except for claims for injunctive relief, for 90 days.
This Practice Direction has since been updated to exclude claims against trespassers, certain interim possession orders. It also now permits case management direction to be applied for, and it has been clarified that claims for possession may still be issued.
New Practice Direction 51ZA
Practice Direction 51ZA deals principally with extensions of time. Rule 3.8 has been temporarily amended so that extensions of time up to 56 (rather than 28) days can be agreed without Court involvement. Further, longer extensions can be applied for and will be primarily considered on the papers.
The Courts have now also expressly been required to take into account the impact of the pandemic when considering applications for extensions of time, adjournments, and relief from sanctions.
Practice Direction 51R – updated
A number of amendments have been made to the Online Civil Money Claims Pilot, generally to streamline how such claims are managed. These changes are intended to remain in force after the pandemic is over.
HMCTS daily operational summary on courts and tribunals during coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
At the below link, Court users will find regular updates on the extent to which the Civil Courts are operating. For example, information is provided as to hours of service, whether Courts are able to answer calls and whether Court buildings are open.
HMCTS guide on how to join telephone and video hearings during coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
The guide at the below link explains what to expect from a telephone / video hearing, and how to act during one, as well as basic information as to how to prepare for one and join one.
HMCTS telephone and video hearings during coronavirus outbreak
Information about how HMCTS will use telephone and video technology during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can be found at the following link. The resources provided are many and varied. They include general guidance on the decision to use technology to facilitate the hearing. Certain particularly important or useful sub-items are highlighted below.
Remote hearings Protocol – 26 March 2020
This summarises certain key points from the CPR, including the new PDs and provides guidance as to how remote hearings should be organised, prepared for and conducted.
Guidance for judges
Guidance from the Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls and President of the Family Division to Circuit and District Judges sitting in Civil and Family. This generally provides an insight into how the Judiciary have found remote working and remote hearings so far, and the sorts of considerations that should be taken into account when deciding whether or not to conduct a hearing remotely.
The Queen’s Bench Division has issued various bulletins as follows:
Bulletin 6 – Covers Possession claims against trespassers in particular – see here
Bulletin 5 – Covers the service of process from and taking of evidence for foreign Courts, and the registration of foreign judgments – see here
Bulletin 4 – Covers the work of the CFO – see here
Bulletin 3 – Relates to the publication of PD 51ZA, and the ability of parties to sign Court documents electronically – see here
Bulletin 2 – Explains that certain departments are completely closed, and covers hearings before QB Masters as well as communications relating to hearings and documents for hearings – see here
Government Advice for Essential Work Sectors during Lockdown
The overarching Governmental advice on Covid-19 and social distancing at work, broken down (currently) amongst those sectors deemed to be essential and working through the lockdown. This is regularly updated. It covers the construction, logistics, manufacturing transport, food retail/processing, farming, shipping and waste recycling industries. The HSE have indicated that it is this guidance that they intend to enforce when inspecting businesses as to compliance with social distancing requirements, post lockdown.
Construction Leadership Council advice for the Construction Industry
Specific industry guidance for construction work that is forming the basis of most larger construction companies’ internal procedures. The Government guidance refers to this as being the detailed industry guidance to be followed and it is featuring in various company videos from such businesses as Morrisroe. It includes advice as to observing the 2m rule, or alternatively limiting contact within that proximity to no more than 15 minutes.
Build UK Statement: Issues for the Construction Industry
Some interesting issues and feedback on the guidance above from various construction companies that are members of Build UK. Of most relevance is concern amongst those businesses as to what they should do in terms of the provision of PPE, most particularly respiratory protection in the form of face masks.
Government Advice for Food Retailers and Food Processing
Governmental advice for supermarkets and those businesses involved in food processing. It builds upon ordinary hygiene procedures that are commonly used within the industry such as HACCP. It includes the provision of social distancing measures such as signage to ensure customers keep 2m apart and also the protection of staff behind Perspex barriers.
Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Guidance for Farming
The first set of guidance for the farming industry on maintaining social distancing, including identifying some activities where it is not feasible to do so.
Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Advice for Waste Recycling Industry
Specific industry guidance for waste recycling businesses about how to maintain social distancing, particularly when working inside, on picking and sorting lines.