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  • President of the Court of Appeal, Dennis Morrison, has issued Emergency Practice Directions in light of COVID-19, suspending all in-person hearings in chambers and open court until Monday, May 11, 2020.
  • The action has been taken to protect the health of judges, staff members, close protection officers, security guards at the Court of Appeal, attorneys-at-law and members of the public while providing reduced court services.
  • In a statement issued to court staff, Mr. Morrison said the directions take effect immediately and may be altered as the situation develops.

President of the Court of Appeal, Dennis Morrison, has issued Emergency Practice Directions in light of COVID-19, suspending all in-person hearings in chambers and open court until Monday, May 11, 2020.

The action has been taken to protect the health of judges, staff members, close protection officers, security guards at the Court of Appeal, attorneys-at-law and members of the public while providing reduced court services.

In a statement issued to court staff, Mr. Morrison said the directions take effect immediately and may be altered as the situation develops.

“Hearings of urgent applications, as well as case management conferences that are listed for hearing before a single judge of appeal, will be conducted by way of the use of telephone conferences or other electronic means. In so far as the court deems appropriate, matters scheduled for hearing in court will be considered by the court on paper,” Mr. Morrison said.

If the court determines that the matter should proceed by way of inter partes hearing, the matters will be rescheduled to a later date, unless deemed by the court to be urgent.

Inter partes is latin for between the parties, and as used in the statement, indicates that for some matters there needs to be an actual meeting of the persons involved.

Urgent matters for which an inter partes hearing is deemed by the court as necessary, shall be conducted with the use of telephone conference, video conference or other electronic means.

Mr. Morrison also said that “during March 23 to May 8, all judgements of the court and/or single judge of appeal, will be delivered in open court or chambers by whatever means the court or single judge of appeal deems appropriate”.

This includes the use of teleconferences or other electronic means.

In criminal cases, the bail of all applicants or appellants whose hearing dates fall within the period March 23 to May 8, has been extended to May 11 at 9:30 a.m., at which time they shall be expected to appear before the court.

Meanwhile, all persons accessing the court building will be required to have their hands sanitised by security guards stationed at entrance points.

Guards will be authorised to decline entry to persons who refuse to comply with this requirement.

“Persons exhibiting signs of the COVID-19 will not be granted entry to the court building. Persons exhibiting signs of COVID-19 after entry to the court building will be asked to leave the building immediately,” Mr. Morrison explained.

Public entrance to the court building, in particular the registry, will be limited in keeping with the guidelines given by the Government.

While the registry of the court will remain open to the public during its usual opening hours, the registry will be operating with reduced staff.

All users of the court are, therefore, asked to attend the registry only where absolutely necessary.

For general queries and information, persons are being encouraged to contact the registry by phone at 876-633-7201 or by email at registry@courtofappeal.gov.jm.

The Court of Appeal said it recognises the need to limit physical contact as much as possible, in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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