Lawyers and other court users have been urged to check online which court buildings are open as the emergency priority courts scheme comes into force today. 

In a reminder this morning, HM Courts & Tribunals Services said that 157 priority court and tribunal buildings will be open for essential face-to-face hearings. Details are listed online, along with those of 124 premises staffed by key workers, including the judiciary, but not open to the public.

These ‘staffed courts’ will support video and telephone hearings, progress cases without hearings and ensure continued access to justice, HMCTS said.

All other court buildings are suspended and temporarily closed. 

Media and members of the public will be able to attend priority court hearings in person, if safe to do so in line with Public Health England guidance, thereby ensuring the principle of open justice. Where this is not possible, judicial consideration will be given to them joining a hearing remotely or a transcript provided afterwards.

HMCTS has also published guidance on security, cleaning and social distancing arrangements and on the use of telephone and video hearings.  

The measures will be kept in place for as long as necessary to comply with government and public health advice and will be reviewed regularly, the reminder notice states.