The Association Representing Solicitors in Galway City and County

GSBA Posts

22 October 2021

COVID procedures in the Courts

Dear Colleagues,

Please see below email from Pattie Mulkerrin about Court capacity and procedures in the coming weeks.

Kind regards,

John Martin

 

Further to the recent further relaxation of some restrictions, can you please advise your members of the following in relation to Court sittings at Galway Courthouse:

Anyone attending Court should adhere to the following guidelines:

1.        Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19, or who has been advised by the HSE to restrict their movements should not attend at court premises.
2.        Everyone entering a Courts Service premises, save for medical or other welfare considerations, is expected to wear a face covering.
3.        All court users are expected to observe good respiratory and hand hygiene.
4.        The use of staggered lists, Videolink to prisons and remote callovers and courts will continue to assist with management of footfall in buildings.
5.        The Courts Service will continue to use dedicated staff to manage the movement of persons on our premises.
6.        The Courts Service has implemented a robust and successful Covid-19 Safety Management Programme to ensure that Courtrooms and all public spaces in court buildings are kept as safe as possible. This programme recognises that the risk of transmission in a courtroom setting increases with the length of time a person is indoors and the number of people in attendance over that period. For this reason, physical distancing measures will remain, and capacity numbers will remain in place for courtrooms and some other spaces within court buildings until further notice. The capacity of each court will be posted on the door of the court.
7.        Bar rooms will be available for use. Consultation rooms may be available in certain court buildings once they have been risk assessed by local management and found to be safe to open. It is important when using these rooms that occupants comply with all advised Covid-19 safety measures.  Unfortunately here in Galway the consultation rooms are small with poor ventilation and therefore they will not be open.
8.        Jury empanelment will continue in off site venues where appropriate; jurors will be assigned additional seating in the courtroom to allow for social distancing and additional jury deliberation space will be provided in courthouses.
9.        The Courts Service and Judiciary are seeking the assistance of practitioners in the following:
·        Please agree in advance as many issues and as much evidence as possible in order to shorten hearings and avoid witnesses attending court unnecessarily.
·        Where possible, consultations in relation to upcoming proceedings should take place in the days or weeks preceding the hearing date assigned to a case and should take place otherwise than on Courts Service premises so that the safety of those required to attend court on any given day can be best protected.
·        In relation to witness cases, hybrid hearings should be availed of, wherever possible.
10.In District Court Family Law proceedings practitioners should endeavour to hand in Agreed Consents as far as possible and only urgent cases will proceed
ie in access cases a review will not be heard if access is already taking place.

Many thanks

Pattie Mulkerrin
Manager
Galway Court Office
091 511511