Latest Legal Covid-19 Updates

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  1. Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has announced a suspension of evictions from social and private rented accommodation for another two months.
  1. The Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, the chair of the independent Civil Justice Council and Head of Civil Justice, has welcomed the Civil Justice Council’s rapid review of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the civil justice system, particularly the swift expansion of the use of remote hearings. The review, conducted with the support of the Legal Education Foundation, launched on 1 May 2020 and concluded on 15 May 2020. In response to the report Sir Terence Etherton said:

“I am immensely grateful to the members of the working group for producing this report and especially to Dr Natalie Byrom of the Legal Education Foundation, who undertook the lead on the review. The report is the result of an astonishing effort by all involved to produce such an informative report in a very short period of time, there were well over 1000 responses to the review. The report provides a valuable snapshot of the effect of the pandemic on civil court users relatively soon after the pandemic began. I hope it will form a useful basis for further research and review in due course.” 

“The report makes a number of recommendations which we will consider carefully. In particular responding to concerns expressed by a number of consultees about the consequences of the current stay on housing possession claims ending. I have established a cross-sector working group, which is being chaired by Mr Justice Knowles, the chair of the Civil Justice Council’s Access to Justice Sub Committee, to help address these concerns.”

  1. The Administrative Court has refused to grant the chairman of a mosque interim relief preventing the enforcement of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 in so far as they prohibit attendance at Friday communal prayers at a mosque (R (Hussain) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care [2020] EWHC 1392 (Admin)). Regulation 5(5) of the Regulations states that a person responsible for a place of worship has to ensure that, during the emergency period, the place of worship is closed, except for permitted uses. Prayer is not a permitted usage. Regulation 6 set out restrictions on movement, and regulation 7 stated that no person could participate in a gathering in a public place of more than two people. There was no dispute that the cumulative effect of the Regulations was a restriction on the right to manifest religious belief enshrined in Article 9 ECHR, but the Court concluded that if the case was to go to trial, the Secretary of State was likely to succeed on the basis that the interference was justified. The Court has however granted the claimant permission to apply for judicial review.
  1. A daughter whose father died of Covid-19 in a care home is intending to bring a judicial review claim against the Secretary of State for Health, NHS England and Public Health England.
  1. The High Court has granted an injunction restraining the presentation of a winding-up petition in Coranavirus-related circumstances, on the basis that the presentation of a petition which would ultimately fail would nonetheless have a seriously damaging effect on the company. Morgan J said:

“I do not see that the court is powerless to act to prevent its procedures being used otherwise than for the purpose of obtaining a winding up order (because it is improbable that such an order will be made) but for the purpose of, or at any rate with the effect of, causing serious damage to the company. I also consider that the grant of an injunction to restrain the presentation of the petition is powerfully supported by the clear policy objectives of the CIG Bill.”

EVENTS 08 June 2020: Webinar – EU free movement law and the EU settlement scheme 08 Jun 2020: Webinar – Current Issues in Environmental Law Part 4: The Environment Bill, biodiversity net gain and nature conservation 11 Jun 2020:  Webinar – Planning in Northern Ireland 22 Jun 2020: Webinar – Coronavirus and Homelessness – Part 1 23 Jun 2020: Webinar – Coronavirus and Homelessness – Part 2 Issue Authors: Hafsah Masood, Nick Grant, Alex Shattock.

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