Court Implements Social Distancing Protocols For Its Upcoming Hearings


Ahead of the scheduled quarterly sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal here, on island, next week, the High Court of Justice has issued new measures for legal practitioners and the public to follow in all of its divisions.

The sitting will be conducted via video link.

The measures put in place at the High Court – the civil, criminal and family divisions – came into effect on Wednesday, May 20.

To ensure that social-distancing protocols are maintained, all attorneys have been assigned a specific time in which their matters will be heard. Accordingly, lawyers are asked to stick to that time frame so the process can flow smoothly.

If they opt to attend the court hearing in person, only those parties involved in a case will be admitted to the courtroom at any one time. However, having the hearing via Zoom is the alternative option, the court says.

Meanwhile, prior to the Court of Appeal sitting, status hearings will be conducted this Friday, May 22, at 9 am. These will be heard via video conference and only parties to a particular case will be allowed in the conference room.

Court of Appeal cases will be heard in Antigua next Monday, May 25.

Meanwhile, no trials by jury are being heard, even though the Criminal Assizes are open; and the suspension of these matters will continue until further notice, the court says.

According to officials, “Sentencing for convicted offenders and case-management of criminal cases will continue to be scheduled, and the parties will be contacted individually concerning the dates for hearing.”

As far as civil cases and chamber matters go, those that have been adjourned until May 28 will be rescheduled for hearing during the long vacation period, or earlier where possible.

Cases set to be heard in Courtroom No. 4, from June 1 to July 31, will proceed as scheduled by way of video conferencing, or by other means where necessary.

Persons with matters set to be heard before the judge who sits in Courtroom No. 3 during the period June 8 to July 31 will be notified about the status of their cases at a later date.

Cases which were set to be heard in Family Court in April have been rescheduled to June, and all services provided by this court will continue by appointments only.

In the meantime, to facilitate the hearing of some matters, Damian Kelsick has been appointed to act as a temporary High Court Judge. He will assist with scheduled and adjourned matters for the period May 18 to June 18. This will continue until a permanent judge can be appointed.

Kelsick will serve as a non-resident judge and will hear all matters via video conference.


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