Chief Justice Ivor Archie has issued new pandemic directions for the courts.
This comes in light of the latest restrictions placed on the country by the Prime Minister on Thursday.
Among the CJ’s latest directives, is the total ban on in-person hearings at all courthouses, except for domestic-violence cases by appointment.
In addition, the judiciary will create 23 virtual access customer centres for virtual hearings, and an extension for paying fines and fixed-penalty public health tickets until June 1.
With the ban on in-person hearings, judges and magistrates were told to hold hearings by electronic means only.
All jury trials were suspended and no prisoner may go to a court building physically unless directed by the court.
Judges and magistrates were told to direct witnesses to give evidence from a specific location or from one of the 23 Judiciary’s VAC centres.
The centres are at the UTT building at the O’Meara Industrial Park, Arima; the Judiciary’s administration building at King’s Court on Frederick Street, Port of Spain; the Children’s Court (North) building in St Clair; the Point Fortin magistrates’ court building; the New Family court building in Princes Town; the Supreme Court building in Tobago; the Scarborough magistrates’ court; and the Tobago Family court building.
The latest practice directions also suspended the payment of fines, including fixed-penalty tickets for not wearing a facemask. These payments, excluding maintenance payments, have been suspended until May 31.
Any public health fixed-penalty notices issued on or before May 31 can be paid from June 1-August 10.
Hearings for contesting the notices – covering the period September 5, 2020-May 31 – run from September 7-June 14, 2022.
Approval of surety for bail will be by appointment and access to the court for manual filing will also be by appointment. All other filings will be done electronically.