03 Aug 2020

The huge backlog of eviction and other cases anticipated in the coming months will be helped by the creation of a series of so-called Nightingale Courts – the justice system’s version of the much-praised Nightingale Hospitals.

These are to be at Telford in Shropshire, Stevenage in Hertfordshire, Swansea, Leeds, Middlesbrough on Teesside, Chichester, Fleetwood in Lancashire, Peterborough, and London.

Most involve the conversion of former courts or buildings already being used for other purposes, to become modern court offices.

ARLA Propertymark says that while no specific uses have been set out for the Nightgale Courts, it is likely that they will assist in clearing the backlog of eviction cases.

The government has revealed other measures to help ease pressure on the court system, including opening courts for longer to increase the number of cases that can be heard safely, using video technology where appropriate, and a £140m-plus programme to rapidly modernise some existing court buildings.

The government has already outlined new court procedures to address the expected backlog of cases when eviction proceedings resume on August 24.

For all applications made before August 3 – that’s today – the landlord or agent must notify both the court and defendant in writing that they wish to continue the case. Without this reactivation notice cases started prior to August 3 will not resume.  

Secondly, the landlord or agent should ascertain whether the tenant is shielding or is in some other way vulnerable to Coronavirus.

The landlord or agent must also itemise arrears in writing, ideally as part of the reactivation notice, if this is relevant to the eviction.

Finally the court officers are to have greater leeway over the timetable for proceedings to ensure social distancing and other safety measures can be ensured.

These processes will be in place until March 28 2021 with an earlier review if circumstances change. 

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