Courts and Tribunals Weekly Operational Update - Coronavirus: week commencing Monday 15 March 2021

HMCTS weekly operational update during coronavirus outbreak

HMCTS operational summary for week commencing Monday 15 March 2021

Next week’s update will be issued on Friday 19 March 2021.

  • Updated: We are opening 3 new Nightingale Courts. The first in in Wolverhampton and will provide 2 additional Crown Courtrooms. The second court is in Liverpool and will provide 1 additional room for Crown Court work. The final court will be in Croydon and provide 2 additional rooms, one for Crown Court and one for Crown Court appeals work.
  • Updated: We have launched a pilot to trial the use of home testing kits among court users. From week commencing Monday 8 March 2021, and for the following 5 weeks, home testing kits will be available to collect on-site from Birmingham Crown Court, Croydon Combined Court, Liverpool Combined Court QEII, Snaresbrook Crown Court and Wolverhampton Combined Court. The kits include lateral flow tests, and will be offered to all professional court users, legal professionals, judiciary, contractors, jurors, witness services and staff who attend scheduled hearings at the pilot sites. Testing is now also widely available in the community, and we strongly encourage all court users to make use of it. All businesses can register for testing for their employees if they cannot work from home, and we are working hard to expand the availability of on-site and home-test kits for all court users.
  • Our court and tribunal finder service is the authoritative source for the operational status of all our buildings. Please check before travelling to any court or tribunal building.
  • We encourage all court and tribunals users to take part in any Community Testing Programme that is available locally. You can check your local authority website to find out more. In locations where new virus variants have been found the government strongly advises you to take a COVID test, whether you are showing symptoms or not.
  • Reminder: Jurors must wear fluid resistant surgical masks, provided by the court, in smaller deliberation rooms (that operate with 1m distancing plus mitigations like screens). We have amended our organisational risk assessment accordingly, following updated public health advice.
  • Reminder: We review and update our COVID risk assessments each week and apply any changes needed. You can ask for a copy from your local court. If you have any questions about how the risk assessment meets government guidance or how it’s being followed, you can raise your concerns following our escalation process. Escalation routes for professional users (PDF, 266KB, 3 pages)
  • Reminder: Court and tribunal users must continue to wear a face covering in all public and communal parts of our buildings. This includes robing rooms. This is in line with Government advice on face coverings (England), Face coverings: guidance for public (Wales) and COVID-19 stage 3: staying safe and protecting others (Scotland). Guidance has also been published to help stop the spread of COVID-19.


  • The Common Platform digital case management system is now live in Guildford Crown and Magistrates’ Courts, and Staines Magistrates’ Court. The next courts to go live with the system will be: North Staffordshire Justice Centre, Cannock Magistrates’ Court, Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, Stafford Crown Court, Warrington Magistrates’ Court and Chester Crown Court. Defence solicitors and barristers who work in these courts need to register now for Common Platform accounts. Watch our webinar to find out more about the system.
  • Magistrates’ courts are facilitating the remote attendance of those involved in proceedings where the court has directed, and is able to facilitate, this. The safe operation of courts remains paramount so listing volumes are being adjusted to reduce the number of people coming to court, in line with the Lord Chief Justice’s recent statement. Updated guidance has been issued to those still required to attend in person.
  • The Crown Court is hearing all types of applications and cases, including multi-hander trials. Where appropriate, judges continue to deal with a range of work remotely, including sentencing hearings.
  • The judiciary has published a note of listing in magistrates’ courts during coronavirus outbreak.


  • Family courts continue to prioritise work as agreed with the President of the Family Division. Work levels are slowly returning to pre-COVID levels and we are working hard to return this to 100%, in a COVID-safe way.



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