Coronavirus (COVID-19) and site visits, hearings and inquiries – 17 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and site visits, hearings and inquiries – 17 March 2020

This updated guidance follows on from the Government guidance on 16 March advising on social distancing measures.

In implementing this advice, we have sought to give consideration to the welfare of both our staff and customers. Hearings and inquiries scheduled for this week have been postponed and no site visits have proceeded in London. In some other circumstances, visits have also been cancelled because of high risk.

From now on we are taking the following approaches to casework determined by the above methods including appeals and enforcement. In all cases decisions about how to proceed will be at the discretion of the individual Inspector taking account of the principles below.
Hearings and Inquiries:

Because of the likelihood of social contact with multiple parties these will not proceed at the present time. We are considering whether it might be feasible to utilise technological solutions to enable events to proceed but this is not straightforward given the need to ensure fairness for all parties, especially third parties. In some cases, the Inspector might invite the parties to consider whether the case can be decided purely on the basis of written submissions following questions that she or he might raise.

Site visits:
Provided that the Inspector is able to travel to the site without using public transport, these can continue to go ahead on an unaccompanied basis. We will also be inviting the main parties to consider whether visits that were due to be accompanied can proceed on an unaccompanied basis, or whether arrangements can be made to allow the Inspector access to the site in a way that avoids social contact. We will also be considering whether there are types of cases that can proceed without undertaking a visit. Visits that require the Inspector to be accompanied will not proceed until it is safe again to do so.

For queries about individual cases please contact the case officer by e-mail. Please bear in mind that we are receiving a high volume of requests for information at present.
Please also be aware that this advice will be kept under review and could change at short notice to reflect Government’s wider advice. We therefore recommend checking regularly the information on this site as well as the generic government advice Public Health England in responding to the Covid-19 evolving pandemic.

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