New practice directions for court operations are now in effect.
The new directions were released on Monday, but came into effect yesterday.
In it, the Chief Justice announced that there will be no in-person hearings except in special circumstances for the rest of the year.
All jury trials have been suspended and no prisoner will attend court physically from December 1 until further advised, in keeping with health protocols during the covid19 pandemic.
Witnesses can give evidence from specific locations, as directed by a judge or judicial officer, or at the court’s virtual access customer centres. They will even be allowed to give evidence at a court building but only in exceptional circumstances where the court deems it absolutely necessary.
Allowances will be given in cases where hard copy documents or physical exhibits must be tendered in evidence and there is no agreement by the parties on doing so electronically; where identification is an issue in dispute or a witness as to give an in-court dock identification of an accused or where a witness has no access to internet services.
There will be scheduled times for anyone who has to give oral evidence from a court location to avoid congregating and judges, judicial officers and attorneys are reminded that the registrars and court managers have overall administrative control of all high court buildings on behalf of the CJ.
The filing of documents will continue electronically using the Judiciary’s e-services and appointments are to be made to do any business at any of the court buildings in TT. The payment of maintenance will be done using the CourtPay facility and all service and commissioner of affidavit fees are suspended until December 31.
Collection of payment of traffic tickets are also suspended until the end of the year.
The CJ asked judges, judicial officers, attorneys and the public to be reasonable in their demands and expectations, and to take into account the challenges posed to the Judiciary and country because of covid19.
He also asked stakeholders to be considerate of the complexities of managing operations in a pandemic and the effect individual requests, demands and expectations would have on the well-being of the rest of the Judiciary and national community.