Judiciary issues COVID-19 operation measures for courts

−Exceptions being made for some matters

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, March 24, 2020

In an update on court operations in Guyana, the Supreme Court of Judicature has committed to ensuring continued access to justice while safeguarding the health and well-being of staff and the public.

The evolving situation surrounding the presence of the novel coronavirus (COVID 19) has required constant review of existing Court policies and protocols.

According to a release from the Office of the Chancellor of the Judiciary a new list of measures will take effect from March 23, 2020.

high court2

The Supreme Court of Judicature.

Subject to the decision of the hearing judge all pending matters in the High Courts in all three Counties are adjourned for at least one month to a date on or after 20 April, 2020 except for maintenance, domestic violence and related matters all other cases in the magistrates’ court will be reset to 20 April 2020.

Specifically, the release outlined that only urgent cases will be heard by the High Courts. Where persons are in custody their matters will be heard or bail considered. Bail applications and Remand of Prisoners will be done via Skype, telephone conferencing or other electronic means.

In the event a case must be heard, Emails, Telephone Conference calls, Zoom/Skype and other related technology will be utilised to minimise “in-person” attendance at Court and hearings of cases. Where ‘in-person’ hearings are permitted – the protocols concerning social distancing must be followed.

Where the Court has issued adjournments, the adjourned dates will be communicated to attorneys-at-law via email, telephone, Skype or other electronic means.

Further, in embracing social distancing, Magistrates will be operating on a roster basis, sitting one day per week in each District. The staff of the Court Registries and Offices will be operating on a rotation basis.

For cases which will have the interest of the media, this body must choose senior press officers or press representatives to attend court and share information when covering cases rather than having all media houses present in Court.

This is to reduce the crowd of media presence at courts. They too are urged to practice social distancing.

More generally, Members of the public are not to come to any court unless specifically requested to do so by the Court or by a lawyer.

The release also stated that staff working in the Court Registries and Offices will be operating on a rotation basis. Also, the cleaning and fumigating of all courts and offices continue.

Lawyers, litigants and witnesses and other court users must comply with the sanitizing requirements on entering all court compounds.

Based on the advisories from the World Health Organisation, persons having flu-like symptoms, or who are otherwise ill or are caring for persons with such conditions, or who are in the high-risk or vulnerable category of persons are advised not to enter the court compounds.

For clarifications, questions and queries, persons can contact the Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court on Telephone 227-1223, 226-8487, 226-7947or by sending email to regsupct@gmail.com, sharon.correia5@gmail.com or teamsupremecovid19response@gmail.com