Communication on the organisation of work of courts
Out of concern for citizens’ safety and health in courts, from 13 to 31 March 2020 the dates of hearings in not urgent proceedings will be postponed. The recommendation for limiting court hearings to the most urgent ones results from today’s video conference of presidents of Appeal Courts with the participation of Anna Dalkowska and Michał Wójcik, Deputy Ministers of Justice.
The recommendation for postponing court hearings arises out of the necessity to undertake special precautions due to the threat of coronavirus epidemics. The request for taking such kind of measures has been filed to the Ministry of Justice by the Chief Sanitary Inspector. In connection with the epidemiological situation resulting from the spread of coronavirus, he recommended the consideration of possibilities to change the organisation of work of courts of every level and to reorganise the manner of conducting court hearings so as to reduce, as far as possible, to the minimum extent necessary the direct contacts of judicial staff with other persons (e.g. defendants, witnesses, experts).
During the video conference, these recommendations were considered to be justified. However, particular decisions concerning the possibility to postpone dates of hearings will be made only by judges and president of courts, in accordance with the principle of impartiality of judges and independence of courts.
In connection with the temporary limitation of hearings, the Ministry of Justice submitted to the Presidents of Appeal and District Courts the list of urgent cases recommended for hearing under an urgent procedure and for excluding from orders concerning cancellation of hearings and sessions with the parties’ participation.
The list includes the following categories of cases:
- cases on the application and extension of temporary arrest, cases in which a protective measure in the form of stay in a psychiatric institution was adopted, cases heard in accelerated procedures, cases in which the limitation period for prosecution or the limitation period for the execution of the sentence is to passed, cases on the application of detention in the form of placing the foreigner in a guarded centre or in the arrest for foreigners, cases in which a custodial sentence or another penalty or coercive measure resulting in detention was imposed if the court decision concerns the release of a detained person from a penal institution or custody or is necessary to enforce such a penalty or coercive measure in this institution or custody;
- cases on taking away a person subject to parental authority or dependent, requiring the issue of a decision under Article 569(2) of the Polish Code of Civil Procedure, cases referred to in the Polish Mental Health Act, cases concerning placing a juvenile in a juvenile shelter, cases in which a juvenile was placed in a juvenile shelter and cases concerning placing an underage foreigner in a foster care centre, as well as activities from the scope of enforcement proceedings and cases on examining applications for establishing a probation officer in order to represent interests of minors in proceedings before a court or another judicial authority;
- cases referred to in the Polish Act on proceedings in the case of people with psychological disorders creating a threat to human life, health or sexual freedom;
- cases based on the application referred to in Article 11a of the Polish Counteracting Domestic Violence Act;
- cases connected with the execution of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW);
- hearing of a person for the purpose of securing evidence or in the case of whom there is a risk that it will not be possible to hear them at the trial
Importantly, depending on needs and urgency, Presidents of courts may take decisions in the scope of other cases which must be heard. The Ministry of Justice submitted a request to all common courts in Poland to place information on the categories of urgent cases on their websites.
The Thursday’s video conference is the next consultation of this kind devoted to measures undertaken in institutions connected with the justice system, aimed at the protection against the spread of Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus.
In courts, penitentiary institutions and prosecution offices, prevention procedures, including increased hygiene, limitation of contacts with people who return from regions affected by coronavirus, protection of health of employees, prisoners and guests. Hearings of witnesses are carried out by video, the participation in hearings is limited and the telework is applied. In court buildings, disinfectants are available and it is recommended to take the temperature of clients. The limitation of contacts and responsible submission of information about the circle of threat is a very important manner of counteracting the epidemics, implemented in all institutions of the justice system.
In connection with the epidemiological situation, we ask all court clients in Poland to follow on a current basis messages published on websites of district, regional, appeal as well as administrative courts, concerning the organisation of work of these institutions and to directly contact these court registries in urgent matters.
Office of Communication and Promotion
Ministry of Justice