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Sunday 29th March 2020

Jury trials stopped in England and Wales to fight spread of coronavirus

Other court business will be carried out remotely where possible

All jury trials in England and Wales have been suspended to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Ongoing trials have been halted while new, safe, ways are found for them to continue.

Meanwhile, no new trials will start for the foreseeable future as the UK battles against the pandemic.

The Lord Chief Justice announced jury trials have been stopped (Credit: Waltraud Grubitzsch/DPA/Cover Images)

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Just last week, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Ian Burnett, said that no new trials expected to last more than three days would go ahead, but today (Monday, March 23) all court hearings were halted.

Lord Burnett, the most senior judge in England and Wales, said: "The clear message from Government is to take all precautions to avoid unnecessary contact.

"A review of the arrangements in our courts is called for.

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Ongoing trials have been halted while new, safe, ways are found for them to continue (Credit: SplashNews.com)

"I have decided that we need to pause jury trials for a short time to enable appropriate precautions to be put in place."

The HM Courts and Tribunals Service is currently exploring other ways court business can be carried out, for example using video and telephone technology, but this will not extent to jury trials.

Lord Burnett added: "My unequivocal position is that no jury trials or other physical hearings can take place unless it is safe for them to do so.

"Today no new trials are to start. Jurors summoned for this week are to be released, if possible without entering the building, and told that they will be asked to return for trials where specific arrangements to ensure safety have been put in place.

"All other hearings in the Crown Court that can lawfully take place remotely should do so."

Read more: 5 HUGE coronavirus questions answered by Dr Hilary Jones on Good Morning Britain

Boris spoke about the courts in his daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday, March 22 (Credit: BBC)

Ongoing trials could possibly continue with extra safety and social distancing measures put in place in court buildings but this will be up to individual judges and their staff members to decide.

In the civil and family courts, some hearings have already been carried out over Skype.

Magistrates courts will continue to deal with urgent business, with trials held remotely, and stringent hygiene practices put into place.

Yesterday (March 22), in his daily coronavirus briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "Firstly, on the courts quickly, many courts are already using video trials, using remote technology to do their business, but we are keeping that under constant review."

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