Only urgent personal injury cases will be heard during Level 5, judge says
High Court had begun hearing some cases from a backlog of 300 created during first lockdown
Mr Justice Kevin Cross said only cases with a ‘genuine urgency will get the go ahead. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Personal injuries actions before the High Court will not go ahead during the Level 5 coronavirus restrictions unless they are urgent, the judge in charge of those cases has said.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who had begun to hear some cases from a backlog of more than 300 created during the lockdown earlier this year said only cases with a “genuine urgency” will get the go ahead.
Speaking during a remote call over of cases in the personal injuries list on Tuesday, Mr Justice Cross said any witness action at hearing will continue but, after that, only cases that are urgent will be heard.
He said he will call over the full personal injuries list on Friday for the month of November to ascertain what cases are urgent. The call over will be done remotely.
The judge warned, for a case to get on to hearing during this lockdown, there must be a “real emergency”.
Personal injury actions had resumed at the High Court last July after a four month absence due to Covid-19 and the first lockdown.
The backlog in unheard personal injury cases since mid March to July is believed to be some 300.
The court had limited the number of legal teams who could be present if a case went to hearing. Two-party actions involving a maximum of two legal teams could go ahead but actions involving multi-party involvement could only get a hearing if they were represented by one legal team on each side.
The call over of cases which, before the pandemic, involved a packed courtroom is now done remotely to avoid a large number of people congregating in court at any one time.
Lawyers have also been told consultations and negotiations which would normally have happened in corridors outside court have to take place away from the Four Courts building.
Practitioners must also wear face masks except when addressing the court and each courtroom has been assessed for capacity with certain seats blocked off to allow for social distancing.
To reduce the duration of cases, parties were also told “to use their best endeavours” to agree medical and other expert reports .