Courts and Tribunals Weekly Operational Update - Coronavirus: week commencing Monday 22 March 2021

HMCTS weekly operational update during coronavirus outbreak

HMCTS operational summary for week commencing Monday 22 March 2021

Next week’s update will be issued on Friday 26 March 2021.

  • Updated: We have opened 3 new Nightingale Courts. The first is in Wolverhampton and provides 2 additional non-custodial Crown Courtrooms. The second court is in Liverpool and provides 1 additional room for Crown Court work. The final court is in Croydon and provides 2 additional rooms, one for Crown Court and one for Crown Court appeals work. A full list of all Nightingale Courts can be found on GOV.UK.
  • Updated: A Nightingale Court will open at the Mercure Nottingham Sherwood Hotel, which will provide two additional Crown Courtrooms as a satellite of Nottingham Crown Court.
  • Updated: Fluid Resistant Surgical Masks (FRSMs) are to be supplied to professional users providing legal consultation in custody suites. This is in addition to the existing safety measures already in place. FRSMs will be issued by staff on entry to court custody suites. Our guidance outlines the use of FRSMs and existing safety measures. Professional users should also familiarise themselves with this guidance on how to wear and remove face coverings. How to wear and remove your face covering or mask (PDF, 166KB, 1 page)
  • Updated: On-site rapid testing will be offered to court users attending scheduled hearings at Leeds Combined Court, Leicester Crown Court, Reading Crown Court and Winchester Combined Court. Rapid testing will also be offered to staff at Northampton County Court Business Centre, which is a back-office site that is not open to the public. We continue to pilot the use of home testing kits among court users. Home testing kits will remain available to collect on-site from Birmingham Crown Court, Croydon Combined Court, Liverpool Combined Court QEII, Snaresbrook Crown Court and Wolverhampton Combined Court. Tests are available to all professional court users, legal professionals, judiciary, contractors, jurors, witness services and staff who attend scheduled hearings at the named 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.
  • 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: 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.


  • Updated: Common Platform is the new digital case management system for HMCTS, the judiciary, and professional court users. By the end of March, it is scheduled to go live at; Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, North Staffordshire Justice Centre, Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates’ Court, Stafford Crown Court, Cannock Magistrates’ Court, Chester Crown Court and Warrington Magistrates’ Court. Defence firms and chambers working with these courts need to register their legal practitioners now for user accounts.
  • 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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