Lawyers and court staff were anxiously waiting today to find out if they will be on a list of key workers given special childcare provision during the coronavirus crisis.

In an effort to curtail the spread of the virus, the government will close all state schools from Monday and has asked private schools and nurseries to do the same.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has said a list of key workers – whose children can still go to school – will be published by the Cabinet Office later today.

Health workers and delivery drivers are expected to be on the list, but with courts remaining open across the country, there is confusion about whether those attending court will also be classed as key workers.

Susan Acland-Hood, chief executive of HM Courts & Tribunals Service, asked to clarify the situation for court staff, tweeted: ‘The LC can’t confirm this yet because final list not published yet - but rest assured I have made the point that we can’t say courts are essential and then not do this for those who work in them (including lawyers attending court, and jurors).’

The government has made clear that courts must remain open and sit where possible, albeit with adjusted working practices and reduced capacity.

Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC said yesterday: 'Our Crown and magistrates courts provide a vital public service and until instructed otherwise, we expect all lawyers, magistrates, jurors, witnesses, defendants and court staff to continue to attend court as required, so the interests of justice can be served.'

Clearly that would be a headache for those groups with young children who will be required to look after them at home from Monday. Schools began asking for the status of parents on Thursday morning, keen to make plans for next week about their own staffing requirements.

According to the most recent law firm data, 61% of all solicitors have children, with 72% of this group having children of school age.

Williamson said today that parents not on the key worker list would be ‘immediately aware’ their child would not be offered a place in school. He told the BBC the government was aiming to provide an ‘education setting’ for 10% of the children who usually attend schools.

*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.

Find advice and updates here


Coronavirus: Lawyers with children wait on key worker list update