In addition to the general steps taken by the Courts Service arising from the Covid 19 situation, specific measures have been introduced in the areas of Wardship, the Registration of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Childcare cases. They are as follows:
On Wednesday 18 March, the President of the High Court made the following direction in relation to Wards of Court:
- All review of orders directing the detention or placement of a Ward of Court due to be heard during this term and Easter term are adjourned to a date to be fixed by the Registrar of Wards of Court. There is liberty to re-enter those cases at any time should the need arise. Meanwhile the detention and placement orders remain in force.
- The President of the High Court or a Judge nominated by him will be available at all times to deal with any urgent Wardship applications.
- Applications for adjournments of any notices of motion on consent can be made to the Registrar of Wards of Court by email.
All listings for the review of Orders made detaining a Respondent (pending Wardship) will continue to stand in the list.
The President of the High Court has introduced a new practice direction dispensing with the requirement for personal service of an Order of Inquiry on a Respondent to a wardship application who has a Guardian ad Litem appointed to represent them. Service of the Order of Inquiry may be effected by serving the Guardian ad Litem.
The steps taken by the President of the High Court ensure that urgent cases can continue to be dealt with. The rights of the Wards have been protected and vindicated by providing for liberty to apply to the High Court should the need arise. Matters are being dealt with where possible by email thereby ensuring that the minimum number of people are present in Court.
Enduring Power of Attorney
A practice direction has been introduced relating to the registration of an Enduring Power of Attorney. The requirement for personal service of Form 1 (Application for Registration) on the Donor under S.I. 66/2000, S.3(3) has been dispensed with and the service of Form 1 (Application for Registration) on the Donor may be effected by pre-paid registered post addressed to the current place of residence of the Donor.
The District Court
On 13 March, the President of the District Court decided that only urgent childcare cases will be dealt with for the duration of the crisis. Urgent childcare cases are applications to extend interim care orders, application for emergency care orders and exceptional or urgent applications for interim care orders.
On 19 March, the President of the District Court vacated all dates allocated for the hearing of Care Order applications. These cases have been listed for mention for the allocation of resumed hearing dates on 3 June 2020.
The High Court – Special Care List
Due to the urgent nature of these cases, this list continues to operate as normal with steps being taken to minimise attendance by parties where that is possible.
Where possible in both the District Court and High Court, cases are being dealt with by email to ensure that the number of those present in Court is kept to a minimum.