COURT WATCH 16/2021
Suspension of Court Operations During Covid Lock-down
When we analysed the latest amendments to the COVID-19 lock-down in Bill Watch 56/2021 of the 4th August, we said that nothing had been done to legalise the suspension of court operations during the lock-down. We were wrong. A reader has kindly pointed out that the Chief Justice issued Practice Direction 7 of 2021 on the 28th July, in which he ordered that, in relation to all courts:
- The filing of new cases, process, documents, pleadings and papers is suspended until 19 August 2021, “unless the period is earlier extended or revoked”.
Comment: The meaning of the words we have put in inverted commas is not clear. The current Level IV lock-down is due to end on the 24th August and may well be extended further. Will the suspension period for filing court papers be automatically extended, or will it end on the 19th August?
- Time-limits for filing of papers and other actions relating to court proceedings are to be calculated from the 19th August.
- Where a time-limit had already started to run on the 28th July, the remaining period of the time-limit is to be calculated from the 19th August.
- Postponement of cases:
o Civil cases set down for or postponed to a date specified in the first column of the following table are rolled over to the date specified opposite it in the second column.
o Criminal cases originally remanded to a date specified in the first column of the following table are rolled over to the date specified opposite it in the second column.
|Column 1||Column 2|
|29 July 2021||20 August 2021|
|30 July 2021||23 August 2021|
|2 August 2021||24 August 2021|
|3 August 2021||25 August 2021|
|4 August 2021||26 August 2021|
|5 August 2021||27 August 2021|
|6 August 2021||30 August 2021|
|11 August 2021||31 August 2021|
|12 August 2021||1 September 2021|
|13 August 2021||2 September 2021|
|16 August 2021||3 September 2021|
|17 August 2021||6 September 2021|
|18 August 2021||7 September 2021|
|19 August 2021||8 September 2021|
Comment: All these dates are based on the assumption that the period during which the Practice Direction is operative will end on the 19th August. If that period is extended, these dates will have to be altered.
The Practice Direction can be accessed on the Veritas website [link].