By virtue of the publication of Legal Notice 176 of 2020 entitled Epidemics and Infectious Disease (Suspension of Legal and Judicial Times) (Amendment No. 2) Order, 2020 and Legal Notice 177 of 2020 entitled Closure of the Courts of Justice (Amendment No. 2) Order, 2020 the order for the closure of courts has been partially revoked so as to allow for the re-opening of the court registry as from Monday 4th May. The Closure of Courts Order has not been revoked in so far as the Courts themselves are concerned and therefore proceedings will only be conducted in urgent cases and where the public interest so requires.Following discussions between the Chamber of Advocates, the Ministry of Justice and the Courts Agency, it was agreed that the opening of the registry should be gradual in order to ensure that the well-being of all employees and persons entering the registry will be adequately safeguarded. It was agreed that as from Monday 4th May, the registry is to have a twenty-day time limit within which it will come into full operation. During these twenty days, the registry of the court is to function in a phased-out manner.
The registry of the Civil Courts will adopt the following phased filing of acts over the course of 3 weeks:
Week 1: 4th May – 8th May 2020
During Week 1, only the following acts may be filed:
- All acts relating to court cases which are pending, whether appointed for hearing or waiting for and appointment for hearing. These include subpoenas, notes of submissions, replies to applications (sworn or otherwise, etc.).
- Applications for appeals.
- Letters and Notes for the commencement of the mediation process in the Family Court.
- All acts to be filed in the Courts of Voluntary jurisdiction.
Week 2: 11th May – 15th May 2020
During Week 2, only the following acts may be filed:
- All types of warrants, whether precautionary or executive;
- Counter-warrants; and
- Any application requesting the revocation of a warrant.
Week 3: 18th May – 22nd May 2020
During Week 3, only the following acts may be filed:
- All types of Judicial Letters;
- Protests and Counter-Protests;
- Schedules of deposits; and
- All Acts not mentioned in any of Week 1 or 2.
Any act filed during Week 1, 2 or 3 shall be deemed to have been filed on the 25th May 2020. Furthermore, the registry is expected to be in full operation from the 25th May 2020 and all acts and the filing of sworn applications for new judicial procedures may be filed.
The registry of the Criminal Courts has re-opened and is fully functional as from the 4th May 2020, with the exception of administration of affidavits and oaths to the general public, which is to be re-introduced at the registry of the Criminal Courts as from the 18th May 2020.
All legal and judicial times suspended by virtue of Legal Notice 141 of 2020 entitled General Provisions applying to the Suspension of Legal and Judicial Times Regulations, 2020 as amended by Legal Notice 162 of 2020 entitled General Provisions applying to the Suspension of Legal and Judicial Times (Amendment) Regulations, 2020are to remain so suspended until further notice. The Chamber of Advocates has remarked that this matter needs to be reviewed in line with how social distancing measures will evolve, particularly with respect to vulnerable persons.
The Court Agency has also implemented a number of safety measures to ensure that all health directives are properly complied with when persons go to the registry.