HMCTS has confirmed that four Crown Courts have been assessed as currently suitable to hold jury trials and will begin to do so from next week.


They are:


  • Central Criminal Court, London (Old Bailey)
  • Bristol Crown Court
  • Cardiff Crown Court
  • Manchester (Minshull Street)


Courts expected to reopen in the coming weeks are:


  • Reading Crown Court
  • Warwick Crown Court
  • Winchester Crown Court


Due to the coronavirus outbreak, there has been much concern about the safety of everyone who uses courtrooms and tribunal buildings. Investigations into making them ‘COVID-19 secure’ have been ongoing.


Over the past few weeks a jury trial working group, chaired by Mr Justice Edis, has been assessing ways to safely re-start some jury trials in England and Wales.


Co-chair of our Criminal Law Committee, Ian Kelcey, who was part of this working group has said:


“An immense amount of work has been put into getting a very limited number of courts into a position where they can hold jury trials. Safety has been the paramount consideration. This is a small step in what will undoubtedly be a long journey to return to where we were before the epidemic”.

Special arrangements in place for jury trials


Arrangements to allow appropriate social distancing to be maintained at all times include but are not limited to:


  • providing a second courtroom linked by closed circuit TV, to enable the media and others to watch proceedings
  • a separate courtroom for jury deliberations
  • entrances and exits are carefully supervised
  • increased building and touchpoint cleaning will take place


These safety measures will be closely looked at in practice, and will be altered accordingly if any issues arise.


While we understand that a jury is a vital part of many trials, the safety and well-being of everyone in the courtroom must take priority, and trials should be postponed if the right standards are not met.


Received a jury summons?


If you receive, or have already received a jury summons for a future date, please keep planning to attend court but do not attend court unless you have been contacted by a jury officer. They will contact you to confirm the days and time you need to attend during your service.


Presently, if following government advice you need to self-isolate, you will not be expected to start your jury service. You will need to contact the court and let them know if there’s another reason why you cannot attend. If you are not needed for jury service, the court will inform you.


If you are going to attend jury service, be aware that water fountains and cafés are likely to be unavailable. Make sure you bring sufficient food and bottled water (not glass) with you for the day.


Now that loss of taste and smell is listed amoung the symptoms of coronavirus, you may be required to taste test on entry to the building. You can claim towards the cost of your food and drink.


If you need to speak to someone about your personal circumstances, you can contact the Jury Central Summoning Bureau on 0300 456 1024.


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