As HMCTS reassures lawyers that ‘lack of sanitiser does not make a site unsafe’, Obiter is relieved to see that the International Arbitration Centre – London’s swanky hub for dispute resolution – is still a pestilence-free zone.
Before tougher travel restrictions were imposed, the private court centre favoured by oligarchs and celebrities temperature-screened all staff and guests before granting entry to its Fleet Street premises. Those who had a temperature of 37.6ºC or above were denied entry and asked to leave.
On arrival, litigants usefully avoided contagious Londoners by using the centre’s discreet underground car park off Chancery Lane and entering the court complex using a former Coutts bullion lift, which whisked them to a self-contained hearing floor.
Even the centre’s air conditioning has a ‘high-efficiency particulate air-filtering system’, which holds back pollen and dust particles, and draws in fresh air, rather than recirculating air from the rest of the building.
Now, with parties stuck at home, cases are heard remotely, with the help of live transcript feeds, electronic bundles and high-resolution cameras.
Perhaps the centre could lend the public courts some handwash and paper towels – sanitiser, as HMCTS said, is not essential.