The Court in Jersey has been working with the island’s Bailiff and the Law Society of Jersey to minimise the risk to staff, Court users and the legal profession during the coronavirus crisis.
They say they wish to minimise personal interaction to avoid enhancing the risk of spreading the virus, whilst maintaining the ability to deal with urgent or critical matters, including criminal matters and public law cases involving children.
The Bailiff has written to the President of the Law Society to set out the steps that the Court is taking over the next few months, which include all the measures set out below.
The Bailiff has written to all counsel/parties involved in civil cases listed between now and the end of April to ask whether or not those cases are amenable to adjournment or to be dealt with electronically. The Court reserves the ability to defer cases in any event, should it be in the interests of justice and the operation of the Courts to do so but nonetheless has written inviting the parties to let the Court have their observations on the cases which might be adjourned.
With regard to Samedi Court, the Court would hope that members of the public who are passing contracts can be encouraged not to attend and to pass their contract by Attorney. The Court notes with gratitude the agreement of the profession to waive the costs of drafting a Power of Attorney for clients and the profession should be aware that the filing fees for Powers of Attorney have been waived in the current circumstances.
To enable the safer handling of bundles including delivery to Jurats not in the Royal Court building, the Court will require the parties to file bundles strictly in accordance with the Practice Direction. The Court has occasionally indulged parties and accepted bundles filed late either for Friday afternoon court or generally. In the circumstances, any late filing of bundles may well mean that the Court will not be prepared to sit to deal with that matter and the costs attendant upon that may be visited upon the party filing the bundle late.
The Court is taking steps to create appropriate segregation between its personnel so that in the event of one or more members of the Court becoming unwell with the coronavirus, there will be other members of staff of the Court that can, having been segregated, carry on.
To enable procedural matters to be dealt with, the Court is in the process of appointing two additional Greffiers Substitute to act as alternates to the Master and to give directions.
A new cleaning regime has been introduced for the courts, which will mean that all door handles and furniture will be cleaned regularly and frequently throughout the working day. Members of the profession using the court should take all appropriate personal precautions.