The Assembly of Southern Lawyers (ASL) has written to Chief Justice Ivor Archie requesting a timeframe for the physical reopening of the courts.

In the letter sent on Friday, ASL’s president Michael Rooplal said he has been inundated with queries from members of the public following Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement on May 3 of “phased adjustments” to the restrictions in keeping with the COVID-19 Public Health Ordinance regulations.

Rooplal said members of the pubic inquired about the proposed timeframe for the reopening as well as the guidelines and measures that will be put in place for attendance to the courts by lawyers, litigants and the public at large.

Criminal and civil hearings are currently being held via virtual court hearings, but they are restricted to the magistrate or judge, court staff, attorneys, the accused, and where applicable the media.

“We shall be grateful to hear from your good office at your earliest convenience,” he stated.

Rooplal also commended the Judiciary for the successful introduction of virtual court hearings.

He said: “It is our fervent hope that these virtual hearings continue to be utilised even after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, as they have the potential to greatly increase efficiency in the administration of justice.”

At a press conference on Saturday, the Prime Minister announced an earlier start of Phase Two of the lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions.

The second phase was supposed to kick in from May 24, but instead, the Prime Minister said it will commence on May 21, with the opening of the construction and manufacturing sectors.