Court sittings have been significantly curtailed by the Courts Service in response to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. The Courts remain open but only to deal with urgent business such as injunctions. Court offices remain open with a drop off service only for the lodgement of documents.
Since the current government restrictions were put in place on 13 March, all non-urgent matters that were listed for mention, for list to fix dates and for hearing in the Courts are adjourned until at least the end of the current legal term which ends on 3 April 2020. The next legal term commences on 20 April 2020. Accordingly, the vast majority of court hearings impacted will not be rescheduled until a date after 20 April next.
Supreme Court and Court of Appeal
Both Courts have adjourned hearings listed up until 3 April 2020 and new dates will be fixed when the situation sufficiently improves. The Supreme Court and Court of Appeal Offices remain open. Communications in relation to Court cases are being dealt with remotely via the Registrars of both Courts.
All matters in the Non-Jury, Judicial Review, Chancery, Commercial and Family Law High Court lists are adjourned generally with liberty to re-enter. The Courts Service does not yet have a mechanism for re-entering High Court matters that have been adjourned but parties are advised to continue to check the Legal Diary section of the Courts Service website.
The High Court is sitting to deal with the following urgent matters:
- Habeas corpus;
- Bail applications;
- Injunctions and their enforcement;
- Wardship matters; and
- Urgent judicial review applications. Urgent judicial review applications would include decisions of public bodies sought to be challenged where the time period for bringing such proceedings (for example 8 weeks for challenging a planning decision) is just about to expire.
All matters in civil lists are adjourned to dates after 20 April 2020. The parties will be advised of the rescheduled dates by the Circuit Court offices. Judges are available to hear urgent applications only. The Circuit Court is dealing with limited urgent business such as ongoing criminal cases.
All matters considered non-urgent are adjourned generally with liberty to re-enter. Urgent matters including certain criminal cases, limited family law matters (e.g. applications for barring orders) and child care matters are continuing to be heard in the District Court.