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Royal Court COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update

 

Royal Court - COVID-19 (Coronavirus) update - last updated 29/05/20

PHASE 4
 

In line with the States of Guernsey guidance around Phase 4 release from Lockdown, the Royal Court continues to review our activity.

We are opening up more areas of service where we are confident we are able to ensure the safety of our staff, the public and other users of the Court.

We are still maintaining some of our staff working from home where possible, monitoring all of the group email addresses below. We would encourage you to email the relevant group below, whereupon someone will answer your query promptly. Please DO NOT attend the Court building for enquiries, contact us and we will deal with your issue remotely. Physical attendance at the Court will be by appointment only.

Following HSC guidelines on controlled areas and contact tracking requirements, if you attend the building and go into a controlled area, such as a courtroom or the Strongroom, where social distancing may be less than two metres you will be required to give you contact details to the Deputy Greffier or a member of staff.

hmgreffier@guernseyroyalcourt.gg. - For Court related matters

pettydebts@guernseyroyalcourt.gg - For Petty Debt matters

HMSheriff@gov.gg - For summonses and Enforcement matters

Bailiff@gov.gg - Judicial matters and the Bailiffs Civic functions

conveyances@gov.gg - For Conveyance and Bond matters

Registrar@guernseyroyalcourt.gg - Births, Deaths, Marriages

StrongroomRoyalCourt@gov.gg - Litigation searches

Detailed below is more specific advice around some of the services we provide.

  • Courts

  • Contracts Court

  • Guardianships

  • Liquor Licensing

  • Criminal Courts

  • Civil Courts (including Matrimonial, Family, and Child Care cases).

  • Petty Debts

  • Staffing

  • Marriages

  • Registration of Births

  • Registration of Deaths

  • Wills, Legalisation of Documents & Apostilles

  • Public Counter

  • Strongroom

  • Litigation Searches

  • Maintenance Orders

  • Maintenance Orders with associated Wage Arrest - Employers

  • Alderney & Sark

  • General Information

    Courts
    Each Court and each hearing is being looked at individually. We will always maintain provision of Court hearings as a core service to our community, however it may be a different looking service to normal. Wherever possible, we are reviewing matters brought to the Court to see how they can be undertaken safely. Where that is not possible, applications will be decided on the basis of written submissions unless an oral hearing is essential in which case we use video conferencing where possible in order to minimise person to person contact.  If you have legal representation, your Advocate can guide you on the new measures.  If you are unrepresented, consider getting legal advice, or contact the relevant Court department via hmgreffier@guernseyroyalcourt.gg.

     Contracts Court
    The Court is continuing to sit on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9.30 a.m. using new processes to maximise everyone's safety.

    Power of Attorneys are still required as we start Phase 4, to ensure there are no large gatherings of people in the Court building. This is being kept under review.

    Procedures for taking consent to transactions and for registration of documents have been modified in agreement with the Guernsey Bar.  The Court is constituted by a judge (usually a Lieutenant Bailiff) sitting alone in exercise of the power conferred under section 13 of The Royal Court (Reform) (Guernsey) Law, 2008. Please contact your legal representative who will be able to guide you through the process

    Guardianships
    Any person seeking to make application for the appointment of a guardian or for any matter related to guardianship shall first contact H M Greffier at hmgreffier@guernseyroyalcourt.gg.  Wherever possible, members of the Family Council will be asked to give a Power of Attorney to avoid the need for their attendance.  The Guardian(s) appointed will not normally have to appear if they are able to be sworn via a video link having confirmed their identity to the satisfaction of the presiding judge.

    Liquor Licensing
    Applications to the Royal Court under the Liquor Licensing Ordinance 2006 must continue to be made to the Committee for Home Affairs in the first instance, as previously.  The Court will continue to sit to hear applications when necessary but will deal with the applications on paper, avoiding the need for physical attendance whenever possible.  Where there has been publication of the application in La Gazette Officielle there is no need for the applicant or their Advocate to attend and if anyone should come to Court to oppose the application, it will be adjourned to another date and the applicant or their Advocate will be notified.

    Criminal Courts
    The Magistrate's Court continues to sit, and will be looking to undertake an increased workload under Phase 4, including trials.  If you are showing symptoms of Covid-19 and have been directed by Public Health not to leave your house, you must contact the Police to inform them.

    The hearing dates for Royal Court criminal cases will be reviewed in Plea and Directions hearings when dates for trials and sentencing's in the Royal Court will be set. As with all Courts, the use of video conferencing facilities are being maximised to enable Justice to be served.

     Civil Courts (including Matrimonial, Family and Child Care cases)
    The Courts  are continuing to sit but are encouraging written submissions or the use of video technology in preference to physical attendance.  Where a dispute can be resolved by agreement or where an adjournment is agreed, the parties are asked to submit a consent order for approval by a judge.  If the dispute cannot be resolved but could be decided 'on the papers' without an oral hearing, parties are invited to submit the application with supporting documentation so the case could be determined by a judge sitting alone, whether or not an urgent decision is needed.

    If an urgent hearing is needed, the Advocate or litigant-in-person should contact the relevant Court via the email address above with a copy of the application, supporting documentation and an explanation as to why it is essential to have an urgent hearing, together with details of the persons who will be required to attend and stating whether they are able to appear by video link. 

    Petty Debts
    The intention is to begin running Petty Debts Courts from 11th June 2020. This will be subject to the COVID restrictions at the time, and the picture in the Bailiwick as a whole, but that is the provisional date being worked towards.

    If you are a Plaintiff who lodged a Petty Debt prior to Lockdown but your summons hasn't yet been served, or it has and you are awaiting a date for the case to be put before the Petty Debts Court, a member of staff will be in contact with you.

    If you are a Plaintiff wishing to lodge a Petty Debt, please email a copy of the claim form (available from the Petty Debts section on this web page) to pettydebts@guernseyroyalcourt.gg A member of staff will then make contact with you to take payment for the summons fee over the phone. Please do not come to our public counter for enquiries as it remains closed at this time. There will now be a member of staff answering the phones, so HM Sheriff staff can be contacted in that manner as well.

     

    Staffing
    We are still operating a percentage of our staff are working from home, please use the email addresses provided if you wish to make contact. We will now have some staff available to answer phone queries but at a reduced capacity, so please make use of the email addresses provided for non-urgent matters.

     Marriages

    Marriages at the Greffe Phase 4


    Any person wishing to make marriage enquiries, we would ask to email Registrar@guernseyroyalcourt.gg. One of our team will be able to provide you with all the information you require by email initially, followed by booked appointments to take Notice. Please do not attend the Royal Court building to make Wedding enquiries in person, attendance is by pre-booked appointment only.
     

    We will not being doing marriages in private residences at this time.

     

    The marriage room at the Greffe has a maximum capacity of 20 guests (in addition to the couple to be married)

    However in the current phase of the lockdown social distancing rules will still apply. Guests who are in the same social bubble do not have to socially distance. Groups who are in different social bubbles will have to maintain a distance of 1 metre from other unconnected bubbles. As there is limited space in the Marriage Room this may mean that the number of guests will need to reduce if unconnected bubbles are attending the wedding.

    All persons attending the wedding will need to provide their name address and telephone number on entering the venue for contact tracing purposes.

    If anyone is symptomatic or is required to self- isolate they must not attend the wedding

    Hand sanitiser will be available at the venue.

    Unfortunately if the social distancing guidelines are not adhered to the wedding will not be able to proceed.

    Further advice is available from the Client services Team on 725 277 between 9am and 4pm weekdays or by emailing Registrar@guernseyroyalcourt.gg

    We will provide further specific instruction on how this will be practically undertaken when Notice is taken.

     

    Registration of Births
    Please CLICK HERE for information.

 The Greffe have reviewed its procedures and the service it offers to new parents. New babies must be registered within 30 days of the birth.

 Previously new parents had to attend the Greffe public counter, often with their baby, to register the birth, however we are looking to move to the new procedure set out below, to maximise the safety of your new family.

AT HOSPITAL:
In the information pack given to you by the Hospital after the birth of your child, will be our Registration Form. Please complete it, and then either send a clear photograph of the Form or use an app such as Adobe Scan to scan the document and email it to Registrar@guernseyroyalcourt.gg.

MARRIED PARENTS:
For married parents the declaration must be signed by the Father.

UNMARRIED PARENTS:
Unfortunately if the baby's parents are not married to each other, by Law the father cannot be named on the birth certificate unless both parties consent.

  • Please register the birth naming the MOTHER on the declaration in the above manner.

  • Please then contact the Greffe on 725277 or email us at Registrar@guernseyroyalcourt.gg and we will explain how the father can be added to the birth register.

  • This can be done at any time but we advise that it is done within 12 months of the birth.

    For both married and unmarried parents, to request a copy of the birth certificate, please call us on 725277 or email us at Registrar@guernseyroyalcourt.gg. We charge £20 per certificate and you can pay over the phone with a card and we will then post one to you.

    Registration of Deaths
    This is a function which will be carried out by the Funeral Directors on your behalf. We have arranged a digital process with Her Majesty's Procurer to remove the requirement for anyone to attend in person with paperwork, making this more efficient for all.

    Wills, Legalisation of Documents & Apostilles
    These types of document can be dropped off at the Royal Court for action. If a contact number is left when it is dropped off, we can subsequently contact to confirm registration has been completed or the Legalisation has been done and is ready for collection. We are not currently providing our 15 minute premium service, this will be reviewed during Phase 3 as to when we can reliably provide this service again. If you have questions on this area please contact conveyances@gov.gg.

    Public Counter
    Our public counter at the Court is closed to general enquiries from the public, we would urge you to contact us by email in the first instance as we can resolve most queries in that way, and we can arrange appointments should attendance in person be necessary.

    The Royal Court building is open for payments to be made as ordered by a Court, which can't be done over the phone, and for any documents that need to be served, to be delivered.

    Strongroom
    The Strongroom will be open and accessible for professional users only between 9am and 4pm each day. This will be by prior appointment with the Strongroom staff member by telephone or email StrongroomRoyalCourt@gov.gg.

    Litigation Searches
    Firms wishing to conduct such searches should email StrongroomRoyalCourt@gov.gg to make an appointment to attend and undertake that work.

    Maintenance Orders
    If you are subject to a Maintenance Order but your financial circumstances have changed and you are unable to maintain current payments, you do have the option to apply to the Court to vary the order. Should you wish to do so you will need to email hmgreffier@guernseyroyalcourt.gg. and someone will respond to advise of the process which needs to be followed. It is the Court's intention to process any applications for variation as soon as practicably possible.

    Maintenance Orders with associated Wage Arrests - Employers
    If you are an employer facilitating a wage arrest in respect of one of your employees, whilst it is understood that they may be subject to reduced, or minimum wages, the Court Order remains and the Office of H.M. Sheriff is still bound to enforce the arrest of wages in full whilst they are in employment. As such, monies need to be remitted as they normally would be, unless you hear otherwise from the Office of H.M. Sheriff. Please email hmsheriff@gov.gg with any queries in this regard

    Alderney & Sark
    We support the Court officials of Alderney and Sark in the provision of Court services in their islands. We are in regular contact with them, it is requested that where possible, if you need to contact them, it is done by phone or email in the first instance. We have resilience plans in place to support them should any escalation occur. If residents of Alderney or Sark have any questions about upcoming events please make contact with the relevant officials in your islands for further advice.

    Sark Greffier - greffier@gov.sark.gg
    Alderney Greffier - jonathan.anderson@gov.gg or court@alderney.gov.gg

    General Information
    The Courts are still being cleaned thoroughly when they are used to maintain a high standard of cleanliness. In line with current guidance our cleaners are focussing on handrails, door handles and other obvious areas of regular contact. We also have supplies of PPE in the form of hand sanitisers available for use.

    We are regularly reviewing local and national guidance and will continue to update this site with the latest information. If you have specific questions please call or email the details above and we will help.