Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the visibility of justice: Research note

M. Malsch*, Gudule Custers, Annerie Smolders, Leonie van Lent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportOther report (internal)


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic affects many aspects of everyday life. There is a risk of becoming seriously ill or even dying if someone infects us. Once an individual is infected, he or she has to stay at home for 10 to 14 days to avoid spreading the infection to others. School attendance, use of public transport and attendance at events are restricted or subject to the obligation to wear face masks and keep a distance of 1, 1.5 or 2 metres, depending on the
country where one is located. One domain that has been seriously affected by coronavirus measures is the legal system. In many countries, trials in open court have been replaced with limited access hearings. Facilities for remote hearings have been introduced, based on the use of Zoom, MS Teams or similar
systems. Judiciaries have tried to continue dealing with cases as expediently as possible, but they have repeatedly been confronted with serious obstacles.3
This Research Note addresses issues related to the coronavirus measures taken across a number of countries and investigates how these measures have affected the legal system. We specifically focus on aspects of open justice, since this principle has received relatively little attention to date. The aim of the Research Note is to provide an initial update of developments related to coronavirus infection control measures and how these impact on the accessibility of trials to the public and to journalists. The authors plan to publish regular updates of this
1 Marijke Malsch is professor of Empirical Legal Studies, Open University, senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) and honorary judge; Gudule Custers is communication advisor and works on a voluntary basis for Open University; Annerie Smolders is publicist, fellow at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) and former judge; Leonie van Lent is assistant professor of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, Utrecht University and honorary judge.
2 The authors wish to thank Nico Tuijn, senior Justice at the Court of Appeal ‘s-Hertogenbosch, for his help in finding information for this Research Note.
3 See; 2 Research Note and express the hope that legal professionals and academics will be prepared to forward information on recent developments to them.4
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOpen Universiteit
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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