Remote hearings of High Court personal injuries cases to resume

Only cases regarded as urgent allowed go ahead since the start of the month due to Covid-19

Remote hearings of personal injuries actions are set to go ahead in the High Court as the Level 5 Covid-19 lockdown continues. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Remote hearings of personal injuries actions are set to go ahead in the High Court as the Level 5 Covid-19 lockdown continues. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

Remote hearings of personal injuries actions are set to go ahead in the High Court as the Level 5 Covid-19 lockdown continues.

The judge in charge of the personal injuries list, Mr Justice Kevin Cross, told lawyers on Tuesday that remote hearings will be organised for routine cases which need a hearing and do not settle. These will only take place with consent of all parties, he added.

Only cases regarded as urgent have been allowed go ahead at the High Court since the start of the month with an emphasis on settlement. Three call-overs of cases are held daily to give parties time to enter into negotiations and keep the court updated.

The decision to move to remote hearings comes amid concerns the personal injuries list could face another backlog as cases which did not settle were adjourned into the general list of pending actions.

Mr Justice Cross recently said the courts are open but only cases that were urgent, usually involving life threatening issues or personal and economic hardship, would be allowed go ahead.

Cut significantly

During the first lockdown, the backlog of unheard personal injury actions ran to 300 but the court cut this significantly with extra sittings in September.

Among the cases listed to go ahead are some relating to the CervicalCheck controversy. One such case, by a 46-year-old terminally ill mother of four against two laboratories and the HSE over alleged incorrect reporting of her smear slides, began this week in a big courtroom near the Four Courts complex.

The woman gave her evidence by video link and counsel and solicitors sat at desks 2m apart .

The HSE team, which said it would not be cross examining any witness or introducing any evidence, asked to be allowed to participate remotely in the case and Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon granted that request.