Meet Bob. Bob has been charged with an either way offence, for which he has elected to undergo a jury trial in crown court when appearing before a magistrate. The magistrate bailed him for another month, to reappear at a crown court after that time to re-enter his plea. However, in the days leading up to his scheduled appearance, he has tested positive for Coronavirus. What does the law requires Bob to do?

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    This question (as edited) is not asking for specific legal advice. It is merely asking what the law permits or requires in a particular circumstance. It should not be closed as a RSLA. Nov 2, 2022 at 18:27

2 Answers 2


The very first thing Bob should do is call his doctor to see if he needs medical treatment.

The second thing Bob should do is call his lawyer (solicitor and/or barrister), who will be familiar with the necessary procedure to request an adjournment.

In general, court proceedings can be adjourned if the defendant's presence is required but they cannot attend due to ill health or similar involuntary issues. A medical certificate may be required, so Bob may need to contact his doctor to see about getting one. Details about the requirements for a medical certificate are in Section 5C of the Criminal Practice Directions.

In particular, 5C.2:

If a medical certificate is accepted by the court, this will result in cases (including contested hearings and trials) being adjourned rather than the court issuing a warrant for the defendant’s arrest without bail. Medical certificates will also provide the defendant with sufficient evidence to defend a charge of failure to surrender to bail.


If Bob is in fact too ill to attended a scheduled court hearing, he (or his attorney) should let the court know as soon as possible. A medical certificate may be required, depending on the court (as mentioned in the answer by Nate Eldredge). The Clerk of the Court, or the office of the Clerk, will be able to inform parties of the procedures in such cases. This will be particularly useful if Bob is appearing pro se (not represented by any attorney).

But if Bob is well enough to attend a hearing, but has active coronavirus, and does not want to infect others, many courts have developed procedures for remote hearings precisely to cover this case. Again the Clerk or the Clerk's office should be able to inform Bob of the proper procedures, as should Bob's attorney. Again, it is important to notify the court as soon as possible.

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