Personal injury actions before the High Court will not go ahead during the lockdown unless they are urgent, the judge in charge said today. (tues)
Mr Justice Kevin Cross who had begun to plough through the 300-plus backlog of cases created during the first lockdown said only cases with a genuine urgency will now get the go-ahead.
Speaking at the remote call over of cases in the personal injuries list today, Mr Justice Cross, who oversees the list assigning cases to different judges and courts, 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 that for a case to get on to hearing during the Level 5 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 was believed to be in the region of 300.
The court 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 and those 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 that consultations and negotiations which would normally have happened in the corridors outside court now 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.