Dublin court services set to be reduced next week due to Covid surge

‘Unprecedented’ number of staff unable to attend courthouses, Judge Paul Kelly says

Rising levels of Covid-19 infection have led to a scaling back of court services in Dublin next week, the president of the District Court has said.

In a statement issued last night, Judge Paul Kelly announced a series of measures being put in place that will affect sittings in the Dublin Metropolitan District.

“The current surge in the incidence rate of Covid-19 has resulted in unprecedented numbers of Courts Service staff, judges, practitioners and witnesses unable to attend at courthouses,” he said.

“This position is reflected across the justice sector.”

Following consultation, Judge Kelly said the Courts Service would be unable to support all courts in the Dublin Metropolitan District scheduled for the week commencing March 28th.

“The Courts Service and Judiciary recognise that this is an evolving situation which will be kept under review on a regular basis, having regard to staffing levels, judicial availability, Government announcements and public health guidance.”

Additional measures include that in criminal cases, those accused of crimes are excused from attending if legally represented but should otherwise appear in person.

In Road Traffic Act cases legal representatives for those accused of offences will be permitted to produce documents or enter pleas on their behalf. However, cases not specially fixed for hearing will be block adjourned to a later date.

Remands where the accused is in custody are to be dealt with by video-link.

In district court civil and licensing matters, and in small claims listed in the Four Courts, hearings will be adjourned. Other civil cases not matching those categories may be treated as urgent if a good case can be made, Judge Kelly said.

Family law is to proceed as normal until further notice, although some cases may be adjourned due to absence of staff. Similarly, child care cases will proceed as normal until further notice.

Full details of the measures can be found on the Courts Service website.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times