COVID-19 – The Wheels of Justice Still Turn

April 1, 2020

The Island’s Courts face competing priorities.  On the one hand the Courts have to continue to function to deal with urgent matters and fulfil their critical role in Island life.  On the other hand, the Courts must, where possible, adhere to the guidelines issued by the Government of Jersey, and minimise the risk of infection to all those using the Courts.  The Courts must also do what they can to ensure that the fundamentals of our justice system, such as open justice, the right to a fair trial, and the timely disposal of matters before the Courts, are maintained.

The principal action that all Courts have taken is to permit attendance by video-link or telephone where possible.  Where attendance in person cannot be avoided, Courts will do their utmost to ensure that strict social distancing requirements are met. 

The Magistrate’s Court

The Magistrate’s Court is currently closed.  The public, lawyers, and defendants cannot attend the building.  Neither can journalists.  The Magistrate’s Court is continuing to sit, but only to deal with those cases where the defendant is in custody at HMP La Moye or Police Headquarters.  All such hearings are undertaken via video link or are being dealt with purely on the papers.  The outcome of hearings is still being published in the usual way.

 Petty Debts Court

 The Petty Debts Court will continue to deal with urgent, existing matters only.  All new cases received by the Petty Debts Court will be immediately adjourned.  All existing matters are also likely to be adjourned unless the Petty Debts Court considers it to be urgent.  If you have a matter before the Petty Debts Court which you consider to be urgent, you are invited to contact the Petty Debts Court via email ( to explain why it is urgent.  The Petty Debts Court will make the final decision in this regard.  The decision has already been taken that all existing eviction matters are non-urgent and will not be dealt with and that no new eviction matters will be dealt with until further notice.

Royal Court – Crime

 All jury trials listed between now and 30th June 2020 have been adjourned and will be rescheduled for a trial later in the year.  Trials listed before the Inferior Number (consisting of a judge and two Jurats) have been adjourned until after 30th April 2020.

The Royal Court will continue to sit to deal with sentencing, bail, and other short hearings.  Defendants will appear via video-link.  Counsel have been attending in person, but observing strict social distancing in accordance with Government guidance.  The public are not permitted to attend, but journalists can still attend and the outcome of hearings is being published in the usual way.

Royal Court – Family Law Matters

The Family Registrar has adjourned all non-urgent family matters.  Hearings will only proceed if absolutely necessary.  Where an urgent matter has to be heard before the Family Registrar this will be conducted by telephone or video-link, where possible. 

 The Royal Court has adjourned all non-urgent family matters but continues to hear public law children cases.  Where possible hearings will be held remotely, whether by telephone or video-link.  Where attendance is necessary, the advocates attend the Royal Court but observe strict social distancing.  Witnesses are heard, wherever possible, by video-link.

Royal Court – Civil Matters

 The Royal Court will continue to determine all urgent civil matters.  Parties will be directed to address the Court by telephone or video link where possible.  Where attendance is absolutely necessary the Court will ensure that those attending observe strict social distancing.  Journalists can still attend Court.  Any other cases involving witnesses have been adjourned until at least the end of April 2020.


It is now mandatory for the passing of contracts to be undertaken by way of Power of Attorney (POA).  Members of the public are not permitted to attend the Royal Court on a Friday afternoon.  Parties are required to appoint their lawyer or conveyancer to pass contracts before the Court on their behalf.  Otherwise, the Royal Court will sit on a Friday afternoon to pass contracts in the usual way.

Should you have any queries or concerns, please contact us at BCR Law.

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