The Court Administration Division (CAD) has announced several changes regarding the operation of parish courts in an effort to minimize the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
It said all sittings and hearings of the parish courts will be suspended from March 23 to April 20, except for matters deemed by the judge to be fit for hearing during that time.
Chief Justice Bryan Sykes said matters in relation to domestic violence, maintenance collections and payments, breaches of the Quarantine Act, and certain cases involving children will continue to be treated as emergency matters.
The chief justice added:
- No trial should take place regarding civil matters.
- All persons on bail will have their bail extended until their next court date, which will be announced on the CAD website.
- Matters before the Drug Treatment Courts are to be adjourned for a future date.
- All sittings of Criminal Courts are to be suspended until April 20. However, guilty pleas are to be facilitated.
- Applicants for spirit licences should not turn up for court; they will be advised of the outcome of their applications by phone.
- Regarding family services in Parish and Family Courts, counselling matters are to be facilitated by phone for existing clients where possible or suspended until further notice.
- Declaration of paternity and custody matters is to be suspended until further notice.
- The courts will continue to hear domestic violence matters.
- Maintenance payments will still be facilitated.
- For Traffic Court, all matters for trial are to be adjourned for a future date. However, guilty pleas will be facilitated.
- All night court hearings are postponed with immediate effect.
The chief justice stated that affected persons are advised to call the hotlines for the new dates and for further information.
The CAD emergency numbers are: 876-926-3750, 876-613-8800 and 876-754-8337.
Information concerning matters that were to be heard during the period March 23 to April 17 will be published at the courts, on websites and in the printed press, the chief justice promised.
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