Physical court sittings strictly limited to two hours per day

Physical court sittings strictly limited to two hours per day

Chief Justice Frank Clarke

Physical court sittings have been limited to a maximum of two hours per day while the Courts Service seeks clarification on health advice given to the Oireachtas.

The special committee on the COVID-19 response yesterday heard that spending two hours in an enclosed setting with someone who later develops symptoms would be considered a “contact” by the HSE, requiring others in the room to self-isolate.

In a statement, Chief Justice Frank Clarke and the presidents of the courts said they were “unaware, until the matter became public yesterday, of what appears to be additional safety considerations beyond those already published”.

It is unclear whether the emergence of additional health advice will impact previously-announced plans to expand the number of physical hearings in the Irish courts, which the judges said had been based on “all published advice”.

“The Courts Service have sought urgent further advices on this matter as it clearly has the potential to affect the conduct of court hearings or sessions likely to involve judges and registrars, together with others, being a courtroom for more than two hours in a day,” they said.

“Pending receipt of such additional advices, the presidents have determined that all court sittings will last for no more than two hours in each day. This decision does not, of course, have any application to remote hearings which will continue as planned.”

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