COVID-19: magistrates’ court risk assessments

Since lockdown began, only urgent hearings have taken place in magistrates’ courts across the country – for example, bail applications. 

However, some magistrates’ court hearings such are trials are now recommencing in various courts across the country.

As junior lawyers, YLAL members working in crime are likely to be practising in magistrates’ courts and YLAL is concerned about the safety of its members.

YLAL appreciates that it is in the interests of justice for cases to be heard. However, YLAL is clear that its members should not be expected to attend court unless proper safety measures are in place and social distancing can be maintained.  

On 20 May 2020, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) published an organisational risk assessment which must be applied by every court. We want to obtain a copy of each court’s completed risk assessment, in addition to obtaining additional information about listings policies, to enable us to see what the sitaution in each court across the country is.

This information will allow us to see what best practice is and help inform our approach going forward. 

We have a fabulous group of members who are helping with this research – if you want to volunteer to contact a handful of courts, please email to get involved

We can’t contact every court in England and Wales on our own, but with the help of our members, anything is possible!