The Courts and Coronavirus

Submitted by informeddissent2 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:33

Upcoming XR Plea Hearings and Trials Postponed

The information from the courts is changing frequently to stay in line with the most recent Government measures. Currently all non urgent cases are adjourned until further notice. Our understanding is that all the XR cases we know of in the magistrates courts are considered non-urgent. These cases are adjourned for a date to be fixed, which you can find out by calling 0300 303 0645 with your name and case number, although you may not get an instant response. 

The latest we have heard from solicitors (as of this morning, May 13th) is as follows:

  • All the cases listed on 22 May have now been extended until 24 July. No one will be at court on 22 May.
  • The same is likely to happen next week, for those listed on 29 May - but it is not yet formally confirmed.
  • Self - representing defendants need to contact the court to double check, but this is likely to be the position for everyone.

This is a useful website which should  have the latest info: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-courts-and-tribunals-planning-and-preparation#history 

 Urgent work that will continue to be listed include:

  • custody cases (including overnight prisoners);
  • applications to extend Custody Time Limits;
  • urgent applications, including DVPOs and Search Warrants
  • sensitive/high profile cases and those involving children and vulnerable witnesses/victims

What this means for defendants

It is the responsibility of the courts to inform you of new arrangements. If you have a solicitor please let them know as the courts won’t necessarily.

You can reach the court and the CPS by email, or on 0300 303 0645.

Send your email to both southlondonmc@justice.gov.uk AND london.magistrates@cps.gov.uk.

In the subject line include: your unique reference number (URN), your hearing date and surname. The URN can normally be found top right of your charge letter. Include your full name and the name of the court in the body of your email.

We have heard that emails are often either not replied to from these addresses or that responses can take a long time, likewise for phone calls. So keep evidence of the emails you have sent. 

Crown court trials

On 23rd  March 2020 the Lord Chief Justice announced a temporary pause on new jury trials in the Crown Court whilst measures were being put in place to ensure that physical hearings can take place safely and in accordance with advice on social distancing. As far as we are aware this advice still stands. Please follow this link for the latest: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-courts-and-tribunals-planning-and-preparation#history

Funded legal advice for newly charged defendants.

As a result of generous crowd-sourced donations from the XR Central Legal Defence CrowdJustice page we have established an access to justice scheme to provide funded initial legal advice from protest experienced solicitors for newly charged rebels. This scheme covers cases where legal aid is not available. If you are a newly charged defendant, to find out how to access the funded professional legal advice read this.

NB: Bindmans are not part of the access to justice scheme. If you have instructed them and qualify for legal aid, then keep them as your solicitor. The CrowdJustice working group cannot refund fees incurred with Bindmans without individual and prior consent and so it will be best to transfer to another solicitor ahead of your plea hearing.