Lawyer representatives say they hope judges will be understanding if court users struggle to physically attend court due to fuel shortages this week.
Several petrol stations across the country are running dry due to a shortage of drivers and panic-buying. Fears are growing that the fuel crisis could affect practitioners. The Bar Council issued a tweet asking barristers affected by petrol shortages - either trying to get to court or to see clients - to get in touch:
Are you are barrister who's been affected by the petrol shortages – maybe in trying to get to court or see clients?— The Bar Council (@thebarcouncil) September 27, 2021
Get in touch with us: email@example.com@CircuitNorth @SECircuit @ne_circuit @midland_circuit @westerncircuit @WandCcircuit
Earlier today Lizzie Dearden, a journalist at The Independent newspaper, tweeted that she made her first application to observe a court hearing remotely due to her car running low on petrol. Her application was granted:
I've just made my first application to attend a court hearing via CVP citing my car running low on petrol as one of the compelling reasons for the judge to grant it— Lizzie Dearden (@lizziedearden) September 27, 2021
I imagine I'm not the only court user with this issue, and wondering how it is affecting barristers
A spokesperson for the Law Society said: ‘It will be for the judge to decide in each individual case whether s/he will allow someone to appear remotely. There is no automatic right to do so, nor can HM Courts & Tribunals Service issue a directive to require it, but we hope judges’ will be understanding of the difficulty our members and other court professionals and users may face as a result of the shortages.’
Looking at the wider impact of the fuel crisis, employment law solicitor Laura Kearsley, a partner at Nelsons, said it was crucial that employers maintain an open dialogue with staff and consider alternative ways they can be supported.
‘For example, do any of your workers live within a close enough distance of each other to be able to car pool if one person has plenty of petrol? Or, is there a public transport alternative that you could assist your employee in navigating?,’ she said.
‘Something else that’s worth bearing in mind is if your employees need to travel for work - whether that’s for meetings, pitches or deliveries. In this scenario, I would advise you look through these journeys and work out whether any can be reorganised or minimised - or completed using public transport or via video conferencing software instead.
‘While there will be no “one size fits all” approach, the need for good communication will inevitably be the key in ensuring your employees feel supported during this extraordinary time.’
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