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Coronavirus, the Courts and Case Information

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 December 2020


The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound effect on the conduct of legal business generally, but nowhere perhaps more drastically than on the conduct of litigation in the courts. This article by Paul Magrath considers how the judiciary, court services and practitioners of England and Wales have been working together to continue to administer justice in spite of the restrictions necessitated by the pandemic, and the challenges that have been faced in managing court information and reporting court proceedings.

Lockdown & Challenges for the Legal Information World
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by British and Irish Association of Law Librarians

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1 “Coronavirus: action plan - A guide to what you can expect across the UK” (Department of Health and Social Care) 3 March 2020

2 Magrath, “Coronavirus and the courts: how will a pandemic affect the conduct of litigation?” (The Lawyer) 6 March 2020

3 “Lives are being put at risk by the intransigence of the government and the courts. Jury trials must be suspended immediately” (Secret Barrister blog), 23 March 2020

4 “Review of court arrangements due to COVID-19, message from the Lord Chief Justice” (Judiciary) 23 March 2020

5 “Journalists praise courts for remote open justice during coronavirus crisis” (Press Gazette), 26 March 2020

6 MacDonald J, “The Remote Access Family Court, version 3” (Judiciary), 3 April 2020

7 “Court Transcripts: Claim No FL-2018-000007 - In the High Court of Justice - Business and Property Courts of England and Wales - Financial List (QBD)” (Stewarts),

8 Reed, “Invidious” (Pink Tape blog), 6 June 2020

9 Kitzinger, “Remote Justice: A Family Perspective” (Transparency Project) 29 March 2020

10 As recalled by Cyrus Larizadeh QC in “The Family Court in Lockdown” (Gresham College) 25 June 2020

11 Dannreuther, “Remote hearings – will the Family Court ever be the same?” [2020] Fam Law 652.

12 Mulcahy and others, Exploring the case for Virtual Jury Trials during the COVID-19 crisis (JUSTICE) April 2020

14 Robertson, “Coronavirus has stopped trials by jury, and that's not necessarily a bad thing” (Guardian) 26 April 2020

15 Oral evidence: Coronavirus (Covid-19): The impact on prison, probation and court systems, (HC 299) (HoC Justice Committee) 23 June 2020

16 “CBA Announcement: The Jury System” (Criminal Bar Association) 29 June 2020

17 Lord Chief Justice, “Jury trials to resume this month” (Judiciary), 11 May 2020

18 See reg 6(2)(h) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/350), 26 March 2020.

19 Family Procedure Rules (FPR) r 27.11(2)(f).

20 Family Procedure Rules (FPR), PD 36J – Pilot scheme: Transparency (Attendance at hearings in private).

21 Dr Judith Townend and others, “Open letter from NGOs and academics on open justice in the Covid-19 emergency” (ICLR blog), 30 May 2020

22 See also, on this point: Dr Judith Townend, Updated: Covid-19, the UK's Coronavirus Act and emergency ‘remote’ court hearings: what does it mean for open justice? (Open Info and Ideas, 27 March 2020)

23 “Coronavirus and Public Civil Hearings” (Blackstone chambers), 30 March 2020

24 “President of the Family Division welcomes Nuffield report into effectiveness of remote hearings during COVID-19” (Judiciary), 6 May 2020

25 Byrom and others, Rapid Review: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Civil Justice System (June 2020) 4 June 2020

26 Magrath, “Socially distanced courts for the digitally excluded” (Transparency Project), 19 April 2020

27 “How to join telephone and video hearings during coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak” (Ministry of Justice)

28 Inquiry: Constitutional implications of COVID-19 (House of Lords Constitution Committee),

29 Susskind, Online Courts and the Future of Justice (Oxford University Press), November 2019.

30 Minutes of the Commercial Court Users Group meeting (June 2020) (Judiciary), 24 June 2020