The sight of lawyers failing to socially distance in the courts could create “a public scandal” if photographed, a senior judge has warned.
The president of the High Court has written to barristers and solicitors admonishing members of the legal profession for not complying with social distancing or face coverings rules. In her strongly worded letter, Ms Justice Mary Irvine says she has received several complaints about lawyers not adhering to guidelines. The judge said it is happening throughout the country.
“And it is disappointing to hear from members of Courts Service staff who have asked barristers to comply with these requirements, that they have, on occasion, received a dismissive or aggressive response,” she said.
Justice Irvine has taken to walking the corridors of the Four Courts to observe.
“Regrettably, on almost every occasion I have come across pockets of practitioners talking/consulting in very close proximity to each other. I would even go so far as to say that there are more practitioners offending than complying with their social distancing obligations,” the judge said.
Justice Irvine singled out one incident: “The scene outside Court 29 and the Master’s Court at various times yesterday, if photographed and published, might have created a public scandal. There were hordes of people on the landing who could easily have carried on their business while remaining socially distanced by using the adjacent top corridor.
“I find it hard to believe that those responsible for scenes like this are professionals well-versed in the dangers of Covid-19 and whose livelihoods are on the line, but who, regardless of the fact that the infection rate is rising to the point that significant additional restrictions have been imposed to reduce contact between people, are continuing to put themselves and others at risk.”
Source: Irish News