The rampant spread of coronavirus across the world has brought with it terrible consequences to every conceivable part of life – hospitals have scrambled to care for patients, individuals have been confined to their homes, restaurants and bars have closed and flights have been cancelled. The cogs of justice, however, also have not been immune from the reaches of the virus.
On 17 March 2020, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Burnett, announced the adjournment of all new trials in Crown Court listed to start before the end of April that are expected to last longer than three days. The decision was made as a result of the large number of participants – judge, members of the jury, defendant, lawyers, witnesses and staff and the consequent risks of a trial not being able to complete. Lord Burnett’s announcement noted, however, that trials already underway would generally proceed in the hope that they could be completed.