Law Society discourages solicitors from breaking quarantine
Lawyers should not be permitted to break quarantine to attend hearings and tribunals
Legal professionals should not be permitted to break quarantine to attend hearings and tribunals, the Law Society of England and Wales warned today.
The remarks come after the government said lawyers were able to break travel-related quarantine to attend hearings as long as they returned to the 14-day self-seclusion afterwards.
Earlier this month, HM Courts and Tribunals Service confirmed eight staff members and contractors at Manchester Crown Court had tested positive for covid-19.
Manchester Crown Court has been closed since 10 August to allow for compensatory measures and staff to complete their self-isolation and any urgent work has moved to the court at Minshull Street.
“Allowing lawyers to break quarantine to attend hearings will increase the risk of covid-19 transmission and pose a significant danger to court users – particularly from those who may attend court unaware that they are an asymptomatic carrier”, Law Society president Simon Davis said today.
“I would urge anybody in this situation to consider fully the potential health implications for other court users if they were to break their self-isolation period to attend in person.”
He went on to say that breaking quarantine rules posed a greater risk to BAME practitioners and court users, and those with underlying health conditions.
He also pointed the repercussions if further outbreaks lead to court closures in future, “damaging the government’s court recovery plan and adding to the ever-increasing case backlogs in our justice system.”
Reiterating the Law Society’s earlier message on the handling of covid-19, Davis added: “Communications around any future covid-19 outbreaks must be much clearer. It is vital solicitors and other court users know what is happening in courts and tribunals buildings at all times – especially if a staff member has displayed any covid-19 symptoms.
“There must be tailored and effective communications systems in place so that court users are immediately aware of any potential outbreaks or safety concerns and are able to make informed decisions.”