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Coronavirus and the Courts

The coronavirus pandemic is having a substantial impact on courts all around Australia.

We have created this page to help courts, and court users, understand the different practices that have been put in place across the jurisdictions.

In addition, our other resource Coronavirus Jurisprudence tracks the developing impact on individual proceedings and the application of general principles, whether it be to bail, sentencing, the decision to grant a trial by judge alone, or otherwise.

Victoria 
Federal
New South Wales
Queensland 
South Australia
Western Australia 
Tasmania
ACT
Northern Territory

Victoria 

The new Justice Legislation Amendment (System Enhancements and Other Matters) Bill 2021 makes permanent a range of temporary measures introduced in response to COVID-19, including:

  • Enabling courts to continue to hear a wider range of matters via AV link and make decisions without an in-person hearing.
  • Providing for electronic signing and remote witnessing of legal documents including deeds, wills, powers of attorney, statutory declarations and affidavits. 
  • Read the Victorian government’s announcement.

Lifting of the circuit breaker restrictions:

  • The Victorian courts and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) will largely return to arrangements that were in place before the introduction of COVID-19 circuit breaker restrictions. 
  • The courts and VCAT have introduced measures to enable them to adjust between hearing matters remotely or on-site as they continue to deliver justice in a pandemic environment.
  • New criminal jury trials resumed on 18 February following COVID-safe plans.

Health and safety measures for all Victorian Courts and Tribunals:

  • It is recommended that anyone in Victoria’s court or tribunal buildings wear face masks.
  • Exemptions include:
    • If people are physically distanced and stationary they can remove their mask, dispose of it and replace it with a fresh mask when they move around again.
    • Judicial officers and those addressing the court as part of their work may remove face coverings when addressing the court.
    • Court staff speaking in court and court interpreters may also remove face coverings when needed.
    • Where it is necessary to confirm identity for security purposes, authorised officers may request face coverings be removed temporarily for that purpose.
    • The presiding judicial officer may direct a witness giving evidence, to remove a face covering.
    • Where it is a legal requirement that someone’s face be able to be seen in court (e.g. during the jury empanelment process) they may be directed to remove a face covering.
    • The person communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing and visibility of the mouth is essential for communication. Those interpreting for the deaf may remove face coverings for this purpose.
  • It is expected that most people attending court will have their own face covering and will be wearing a face covering when arriving at court
  • Some disposable masks will be available to all court users attending for hearings or the registry in person. The masks will be available at entrance points before security screening.
  • Please also follow the continuing health advice, including:
    • Practice physical distancing – stay 1.5 metres away from anyone you don’t live with.
    • Practice excellent personal hygiene at all times – wash your hands and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.
    • If you feel unwell or have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, do not attend at Court, contact the court to discuss alternative arrangements.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety has released a Summary Table of Audio Visual Link and Audio Link Requirements During COVID-19

Notice for practitioners; where there are difficulties that arise, whether for litigants, practitioners, or witnesses, due to the current restrictions, be that caring for children, caring for elderly relatives, difficulty accessing material, issues arising from a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or some other circumstance, the Courts will take these matters into account. The Courts encourage these matters to be raised with the relevant judicial officer. These matters will be considered on a case by case basis.

Supreme Court

annoucnment Latest announcement 

Circuit breaker restrictions lifted

  • The court will largely return to arrangements that were in place before the introduction of COVID-19 circuit breaker restrictions. 
  • The court has introduced measures to enable it to adjust between hearing matters remotely or on-site.
  • New criminal jury trials resumed on 18 February following COVID-safe plans.

Measures:

  • The court will largely return to arrangements that were in place before the introduction of COVID-19 circuit breaker restrictions. 
  • The court has introduced measures to enable it to adjust between hearing matters remotely or on-site.
  • New criminal jury trials resumed on 18 February following COVID-safe plans.
  • The Court will continue to use a mixture of virtual and in-person hearings.
  • Face masks will no longer be required to be worn indoors in SCV buildings, however they should be worn in any circumstance where individuals cannot maintain physical distancing.
  • Masks can be provided at the security screening point if required.
  • The Court will continue to encourage attendance at a Supreme Court Registry or the Probate Office by appointment.
  • COVID-Safety measures remain in place across all buildings. Public entrances will be open. 
  • QR recording systems remain in place at each building’s security screening area.
  • Information about virtual hearings is available on the Court’s website.
  • All admissions to occur ‘on papers’ until further notice. 

Criminal Division

  • Hearings in criminal matters in the Trial Division will be conducted with all participants appearing remotely. 
  • Exceptions will be made for certain priority matters, including those involving life and liberty, on a case-by-case basis.

Resumption of Jury Trials

  • A limited number of Melbourne-based criminal jury trials are planned to resume in a measured way from 16 November 2020.
  • Jury trials will resume with a range of health and safety measures in place.
  • Jury summonses sent to potential jurors will be accompanied by advice about the measures in place.
  • Work is also progressing for the resumption of civil jury trials, and criminal and civil trials in regional areas.
  • The Court will list criminal trials in 2021 commencing in the week of 11 January.

Resumption of regional jury trials

  • Criminal jury trials will progressively resume in regional courts across Victoria in the coming months.   
  • Works are now underway at the following locations to create the capacity to hold criminal jury trials under COVID-safe conditions:
    • Geelong
    • Ballarat
    • Shepparton
    • La Trobe Valley (Morwell)
    • Warrnambool
  • Works will also commence shortly in Mildura and Wodonga.
  • The process of listing individual cases is ongoing and the Courts will be engaging with the profession and other court users as arrangements are finalised at each location.

Fast Tracked Homicide cases

  • The Supreme Court has agreed to allow certain homicide matters to be ‘fast-tracked’ to it, where the parties agree. 

Judge Alone Trials

  • Applications for trial by Judge Alone may be made by the accused or by the prosecution.
  • Applications must be filed electronically via RedCrest. The applying party must then serve the application on each of the other parties.
  • Other parties (including any co-accused) may respond with their position or consent to trial by judge alone.
  • Where the accused or any co-accused do not consent, trial by judge alone cannot proceed (unless separate trials have been ordered for co-accused).
  • All applications will be conducted as much as possible on the papers.

Civil Matters

  • From 6 April 2021, civil trials involving the cross-examination of one or more witnesses may be conducted in Court subject to the availability of a courtroom and appropriate safeguards.
  • Civil matters will be heard by AV link depending on the requirements of the proceeding.
  • Hearings in civil matters in the Trial Division will be conducted with all participants appearing remotely. 
  • Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.

Commercial Court

  • The Duty Judge of the Commercial Court continues to be available to hear urgent applications via telephone, AV link, on the papers, or as directed by the Court.
  • Commercial Court trials will be conducted electronically with witnesses giving evidence remotely.
  • Judgments will be delivered without the parties’ attendance.

Practice Court (Common Law)

  • Matters will by default be dealt with by a judge in chambers, on the papers.
  • If the sitting judge considers a hearing is required, this will be via AV link.
  • Documents to be filed electronically via online portal.
  • If either party opposes the application being dealt with on papers, a submission can be provided by email.

Court of Appeal

  • Court of Appeal hearings will be conducted with all participants appearing remotely. 
  • Judges and court staff will be present in court, but parties will appear remotely. 
  • Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • With agreement, the Court of Appeal will determine matters on the papers. 
  • Court of Appeal judgments to be delivered without the parties’ attendance 

Probate Office – Original Will Requirements

  • The time by which an original will or other document must be filed in the Probate Office shall be 60 days after the application is submitted for filing on RedCrest-Probate. 
  • To accommodate AV witnessing of affidavits, the requirement for the original will to be exhibited is dispensed with.
  • In circumstances where an original will is stored at a legal practitioners’ office, an application may be submitted for probate or administration of the will as contained in a copy.

Personal service and subpoenas

  • The Court expects that acceptance of personal service electronically would be adopted in almost all cases.
  • The Court may accept unsworn affidavits for filing that meet requirements outlined on the Court’s website.
  • Production of copy documents in electronic format in response to a subpoena is permitted.
  • Subpoenaed persons are encouraged to comply with a subpoena requiring the production of documents by providing an operable link to download and access the documents.
  • Parties ordered to file and serve court books are encouraged to provide an operable link to download and access the court book.

Regional court work and circuit sittings:

  • The Court will work with parties to hear matters remotely via telephone and AV link to minimise intrastate travel.
  • Criminal jury trials listed for circuit in term 2 cannot proceed until juries recommence. 
  • Parties may have a trial in Melbourne in term 4 or adjourn until the next circuit sitting.
  • Criminal pleas and sentencing for circuit matters will be heard via telephone or AV link.
  • It may be appropriate for civil jury trials to be heard as causes. The Court will work with parties to process matters in the circuit list.
  • Mediation services and hearings will continue via telephone or AV link.
  • The Court of Appeal will work with parties to conduct hearings via telephone or AV link.

County Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • From 12 April the Court will allow increased physical attendance of practitioners subject to courtroom availability.
    • Social distancing and 1 person per 2 square meters rules remain in place.
    • Listings will be staggered across the day.
  • Across all divisions, procedural and transactional hearings such as directions, mentions, summons, subpoena, short applications, and matters by consent will continue to be conducted remotely.
  • The current mask setting for jury trials requires all trial participants, including speakers, to wear a mask.
  • Attendance at the Court is ultimately at the discretion of the presiding judge. This will be guided by factors such as whether the relevant physical attendance is necessary and appropriate in the particular case, having regard to the capacity for remote participation.

Circuits

  • In 2021, where a regional court is able to accommodate a civil circuit, the parties will be informed of this at the call over of the circuit. Where this is not possible, the circuit cases will be heard as remote virtual hearings.

Criminal Division

  • From 12 April, practitioners for all substantive matters at Melbourne, irrespective of length, may attend in person. 
    • Including all pleas, sentences, contested bail applications and variations, contravention hearings, pre-trial evidence, argument, conviction and sentence appeals, and judicial monitoring.
    • The attendance of other court users will be determined on a case by case basis.
  • Any Criminal Division trial with a trial date provided before 16 March 2020 has been, or will be, vacated and relisted. 
  • Re-listing of trials for Term 1, 2021 is proceeding.
  • A trial readiness conference (‘TRC’) will be scheduled approximately eight weeks before the proposed trial date.
  • The Court has a set of guidelines if a trial is impacted by COVID-19 in circumstances where:
    • a trial participant is associated with a tested person (where the result is not yet known);
    • a suspected case of COVID-19; or
    • a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Juries

  • A COVID-19 fact sheet will be sent to jurors with their jury summons, advising them of the precautionary measures and guidelines for their attendance.
  • Greater consideration will be given to excusing or deferring persons who may be vulnerable to COVID-19, or who would have difficulty complying with the requirement to wear a mask.
  • The empanelment process will be conducted using AV links between the trial courtroom and the jury pool room.
    • Only smaller groups of summonsed jurors of up to 30–45 people will physically attend the court to take part in the empanelment process.
  • Jurors will be asked a series of health screening questions prior to entering the court each day. 
  • Staggered start and finish jury sitting times will be adopted.
  • Pre-trial, counsel should assist the Court by addressing the following matters:
    • confirming details of all court attendees
    • confirming whether parties propose to have witnesses give evidence in person or remotely
    • whether an interpreter or support person is required
    • whether a view is required and the capacity to conduct a view with appropriate social distancing/density requirements.

Resumption of regional jury trials

  • Criminal jury trials will progressively resume in regional courts across Victoria in the coming months.   
  • Works are now underway at the following locations to create the capacity to hold criminal jury trials under COVID-safe conditions:
    • Geelong
    • Ballarat
    • Shepparton
    • La Trobe Valley (Morwell)
    • Warrnambool
  • Works will also commence shortly in Mildura and Wodonga.
  • The process of listing individual cases is ongoing and the Courts will be engaging with the profession and other court users as arrangements are finalised at each location.

Courtrooms

  • Physical distancing will be maintained throughout the trial process.
  • Each trial courtroom will be paired with another nearby courtroom that will serve as the jury room.

Masks

  • All participants in the courtroom will be required to wear masks – including when speaking – except for in limited circumstances, including health exemptions and some specified occasions when addressing the Court. 
  • Disposable masks will be available to all court users and those attending for jury duty and participating in a trial.

Exhibits and other evidence

  • Exhibits and other evidence that the jury is required to touch are to be minimised.
    • Where there are physical exhibits participants will be provided with hand sanitiser and gloves to handle items. 
  • Parties are advised to have sufficient copies of documentary evidence or transcripts for all participants, including all jurors.
  • Generally, witnesses will give evidence remotely unless this is not appropriate.

Emergency Case Management

  • Some matters that may be considered for a trial listing in 2021 may not have participated in the Emergency Case Management process.
  • The Court proposes to pro-actively re-consider those matters and identify cases that could benefit from Emergency Case Management.

Judge Alone Trials 

  • Chapter 9 of the Criminal Procedure Act relating to trials by judge alone is due to be repealed on 26 April 2021. 
    • This means that any trial by judge alone must commence before 26 April 2021, unless the legislative provision for trials by judge alone is extended by the government.
    • Any application for trial by judge alone should be filed well in advance of 26 April 2021.
  • Applications for trial by judge alone may be made by the accused or by the prosecution.
  • The accused or prosecution must notify the court of their intention to make an application for trial by judge alone via email.
  • Applications must then be filed electronically via eLodgement within 7 days of notifying the court. The applying party must then serve the application on each of the other parties.
  • Other parties (including any co-accused) may respond with their position on whether or not they consent to trial by judge alone.
  • Where the accused or any co-accused do not consent, trial by judge alone cannot proceed (unless separate trials have been ordered for co-accused).
  • All applications will be conducted as much as possible on the papers and electronically.
  • The Court may seek further written submissions and information electronically and will contact the parties via email or telephone if necessary.
  • If an application for a trial by judge alone is granted the court will allocate a trial judge and new trial date.

Common Law Division

In Court Hearings

  • From 12 April, practitioners for any multiple day matter in Melbourne may attend in person.
  • The attendance of other court users will be determined on a case by case basis.
  • Single day matters will remain remote.
  • Parties in any civil trial or hearing where a party is self-represented may apply for the trial or hearing to take place in person.
  • All Family Violence Protection and Personal Safety Intervention Order appeals, DHHS appeals and Supervision Order appeals may take place in person.
  • Where a party requires an interpreter to give evidence, the Court may grant leave for that party and the interpreter to give evidence in person if satisfactory remote arrangements cannot be made.

Filing of documents, witnessing affidavits and subpoenas

  • Electronic filing of documents has been the accepted manner of lodging documents for filing with the court for many years.
    • The court will temporarily allow documents to be signed electronically, including by having the person signing the document type their name.
  • If an affidavit cannot be sworn or affirmed due to COVID-19 measures, the court may accept an affidavit which has not been sworn or affirmed.
    • Parties must take responsibility for ensuring these documents are formally sworn or affirmed when circumstances allow and filed with the court as soon as practicable.
  • eCase is the court’s preferred method for the submission of subpoena responses, objections, objection withdrawal, inspection requests and inspection itself. 
    • Where possible, all subpoenaed material should now be submitted electronically via eCase. However, if that is not practicable then documents may be lodged in hardcopy at the Registry.
    • A party wishing to inspect subpoenaed material in hardcopy must make an appointment with the Registry.

Juries

  • Modified procedures for the conduct of civil jury trials and guidelines to assist if a trial is impacted by the coronavirus are largely the same as for criminal jury trials, set out on the court’s website.

Virtual Hearings

  • Directions Hearings will be conducted via AV link unless the parties seek prior approval from the court.
  • The following proceedings will continue to be heard as remote virtual hearings, unless the Chief Judge approves onsite attendance: 
    • Serious injury applications;
    • Causes with an estimate of 1-3 days;
    • Directions hearings;
    • Summons;
    • Mediations, Judicial resolution and case conferences;
    • Confiscation List matters;
    • Section 85B Compensation Applications.
  • Parties must comply with the Common Law Division’s Use of Technology Practice Note as to the preparation of eCourtbooks.
  • Counsel are expected to be robed when appearing at a remote virtual hearing which may be determinative of a matter and when taking judgment. 
    • Robes are not required to be worn for directions hearings or summons.
  • Parties will be advised via email as to when judgment will be delivered. Judgments will usually be delivered via AV link.
  • For now, civil jury trials remain indefinitely suspended.
  • In 2021, where a regional court is able to accommodate a civil circuit, the parties will be informed of this at the call over of the circuit. 
    • Where this is not possible, the circuit cases will be heard as remote virtual hearings.

Commercial Division

  • From 12 April, practitioners for any multiple day matter in Melbourne may attend in person.
    • The attendance of other court users will be determined on a case by case basis.
    • Single day matters will remain remote.
  • The court expects that acceptance of service electronically would be adopted in almost all cases.
  • Filing of documents, witnessing affidavits and subpoenas is the same process as in the Common Law Division listed above. 
  • The Division will be encouraging greater use of witness statements and written submissions in appropriate cases.
  • Most Commercial Division trials will continue to be conducted via remote eTrial until further notice.
  • All proceedings will be listed for a pre-trial directions hearing by Zoom.
  • Parties must comply with Commercial Division Court Book Guidelines as to the preparation of Court Books for eTrials and eHearings.
  • In-court hearings may be able to be accommodated in the same circumstances as listed in the Common Law Division.
  • Parties will be advised via email as to when judgment will be delivered. Judgments will usually be delivered via AV link.
  • Robing expectations are the same as in the Common Law Division. 
  • Circuits will continue, where possible, as remote eTrials.

Juries

  • Modified procedures for the conduct of civil jury trials and guidelines to assist if a trial is impacted by the coronavirus are largely the same as for criminal jury trials, set out on the court’s website.

Resumption of County Koori Court.

  • County Koori Court processes have been modified.
  • The participation of the Elders and Respected Persons and any family or support persons is now achieved through the use of in-Court technology.

Magistrates’ Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • All matters currently listed for in-person hearing from Monday 9 November 2020 will, to the extent possible, be heard via the Online Magistrates Court (OMC) or other remote technology.
  • With the exception of urgent Family Violence applications, no person is to attend at a Melbourne or metropolitan court venue without the prior agreement of the local court registry.
  • All Civil and WorkCover matters currently listed will proceed in the OMC pursuant to previous Practice Directions.
  • VoCAT will continue to hear applications on the papers, via WebEx or telephone as directed by the tribunal.
  • Except in the case of urgency no person is to attend Registry for counter service without first contacting the court by email or telephone.

Diversion Hearings on the Papers

  • Parties must filed documents with Registry via email to list a matter for Diversion
  • Parties will be advised of listing date 7 days prior
  • Parties will be notified of result via email
  • Where a Magistrate or Judicial Registrar are not satisfied that diversion should be granted on papers, the matter will be listed for mention in the OMC

Criminal Matters 

  • All Parties with criminal matters listed from Monday 9 November must contact the Registry no later than 3 clear working days prior to the current listing date.
  • After the first remand hearing date, all bail applications will be listed in the OMC.
  • Committal mentions and committal case conferences are to be held in the OMC where possible, as determined by the Court.

Family Violence matters

  • Interim Intervention Order applications should use the online form, wherever possible.
  • Applicants who cannot use the online form may attend court for urgent matters or for non-urgent matters, by appointment where possible. 
  • Personal Safety Intervention Order (PSIO) applications will proceed via OMC.
  • Family Violence Safety Notices (FVSN) - respondents must complete the online form and forward it to the relevant court by email or fax. 
    • Protected persons will be contacted by police.
  • All parties with other Family Violence matters listed from Monday 19 October 2020, must contact the Registry no later than 3 clear working days prior to the current listing date.

WorkCover Hearings

  • The court will generally direct that WorkCover hearings proceed in the OMC via WebEx.
  • If a party considers that a matter is not suitable to proceed as an OMC hearing, that party must give notice of this to the court.
  • That party shall provide a brief outline of reasons why the matter is not suitable to proceed as a remote hearing via email.
  • This issue will be determined by a magistrate in chambers, on the basis of the written submissions. 
  • If it is determined that the matter is not suitable to proceed by remote hearing the court will adjourn the proceeding.
     

VCAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • All VCAT hearings are conducted remotely via phone, teleconference or online platform.
  • VCAT will contact parties to advise whether a hearing will be conducted by phone or videoconference.
  • The technology used will depend on the requirements of a case.
  • Unless otherwise notified, cases will go ahead according to any notices or information previously received. 
  • If a case can only proceed face-to-face, it will be postponed to a later date.
  • Some matters will be decided on the papers.
  • Where possible, matters previously adjourned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will be rescheduled for hearing, if they can proceed via phone or teleconference.
  • Mediations conducted by VCAT mediators will resume.
  • Any documents you will use in your hearing, must be emailed to VCAT and all parties 48 hours before your hearing.
  • VCAT is still accepting new cases. You can still apply about any matter that falls in VCAT's jurisdiction.
  • VCAT can still issue a summons at your request. A person summonsed may attend a VCAT hearing by audio or AV link, and may deliver summonsed documents to VCAT electronically by email.

Children’s Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

Circuit breaker restrictions lifted

  • The Court will largely return to arrangements that were in place before the introduction of COVID-19 circuit breaker restrictions.

Attending Court

  • Wherever possible, court users are not to appear in person but via AV link or telephone.
  • You should not attend the court, unless directed to do so by the court. 
  • Call the relevant registry for more information and to find out how to join a remote online hearing.
  • People are not permitted to enter the Children’s Court if they have travelled overseas in the last 14 days, been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have flu-like symptoms.
  • The court continues to conduct all of its urgent and priority Child Protection, Family Violence and Criminal Division matters online.
  • Social distancing and health and safety measures are in place at all court venues. 
  • Masks must be worn, unless an exemption applies. 
  • All documents must be filed electronically via the eDocs portal.

Family Division

  • All applications, court reports and other relevant documentation must be filed electronically with the relevant Registry.
  • All Family Division child protection proceedings will be case managed, unless otherwise directed by the court.
  • All Family Division child protection proceedings will be conducted as online hearings, unless it is not fair or practicable to do so.
  • DHHS will provide a factsheet to parties about appearing in online hearings.
  • Parties are required to file a Remote Hearing Appearance Form with the relevant registry via email no later than 3 days before the listing date.
  • The court will allow some urgent matters to be listed for a submissions hearing on the day the application is filed.
  • The court will allow some matters to be adjourned for reserved submissions where it is deemed in the best interests of the child. 
  • All protection applications issued by notice will be listed for a first return date within four weeks for an online hearing.
  • All proceedings listed for mention or special mention will be conducted online. 
  • Consent orders must be filed 24 hours prior to the online hearing.
  • All conciliation conferences will proceed online.
  • Parties not legally represented must contact the relevant Registry to make an appointment to inspect the subpoenaed material.

Criminal Division

  • All initiating documents, court reports and other relevant documentation must be filed electronically with the relevant Registry.
  • All proceedings in the Criminal Division will be heard
  • remotely by AV link, unless otherwise directed by the court.
  • All Children’s Koori Court hearings are suspended until further notice.
  • The Children's Court Clinic continues to conduct assessments remotely by Telehealth where appropriate.
  • The court will continue to list first remand and other urgent hearings.
  • Unless the court otherwise directs, urgent applications will be heard remotely.
  • Fast Track Remand Court will continue to apply. FTRC will be heard at staggered listing times with child accused appearing via AV link. 
  • Summary case conferences should be conducted remotely via AV link.
  • A notice of resolution or request for contest mention must be emailed to the appropriate registry and the prosecution no later than 3 days prior to the mention date.
    • If the charge/s have resolved to a plea of guilty, the court will schedule the plea/sentencing hearing to be conducted remotely.
    • If the charge/s require a contest mention, the court will list the matter for a remote hearing.
  • Unopposed bail variations will be heard on the papers.
  • Opposed bail variations will be listed for a remote hearing.

Diversion

  • Diversion hearings may proceed ‘on the papers’ with the consent of both the prosecution and the child, and only applies where the child is legally represented.
  • A remote assessment will take place. The assessment report and diversion plan will be sent electronically.
  • Parties will be advised by the court of the date set for the diversion application to be considered 'on the papers'.

Coroners Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • All Coroners Court hearings, including inquests, will be conducted via technological means where feasible.
  • Hearings which require the physical attendance of persons at the Court, must be approved by the State Coroner.
  • Urgent or priority matters which require parties to be physically present at the Court must be approved by the State Coroner.
  • Any in-person hearings must adhere to public health directions, including mask wearing. 
  • Media and public may continue to request to attend hearings remotely via technological means.
  • Coronial hearings will continue to be held remotely via technology wherever feasible.
    • Some court hearings that require the physical presence of persons at the court may be scheduled, providing strict adherence to distancing advice is observed.
    • Inquests that were previously adjourned to a date to be fixed will now be rescheduled on a case by case basis.
  • Some hearings which require the physical attendance of any person at the Coroners Court not will proceed.
  • Inquest Findings, Summary Inquests, Direction Hearings and Mention Hearings will be facilitated through technology.
  • Inquests are adjourned to a date to be fixed.
  • Investigations are ongoing.

Federal 

High Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • The Registry is open from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm and from 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm
  • Documents to be filed electronically using electronic filing facility. Documents may be faxed or emailed to relevant registry where electronic filing is unavailable
  • The Court will temporarily allow electronic signatures on documents 
  • Inspection of documents by appointment only. Appointments only for matters in the subsequent 4 weeks or otherwise urgent matters
  • Arrangements will be made to hear some matters on papers or via telephone or AV link. If these arrangements are not able to be made, matters may be vacated or adjourned
  • Short listings may be conducted on papers or via telephone
  • Longer listings will undergo a triage process to prioritise matters and may continue through the use of remote access and file sharing technology
  • Judgements will continue to be delivered
  • Special leave applications and urgent matters will be dealt with

Federal Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • There will be no face-to-face services in the Court’s WA registry until 6:00pm Friday 5 February 2021, unless otherwise approved by the Head of Jurisdiction. Online and phone services are available. 
  • A QR Code system and manual registers are being introduced as a means of registering public attendance in court buildings. The registration and use of QR Codes are voluntary.
  • There will be no face-to-face services at the Queens Square Sydney counter until 27 January 2021 and the Brisbane counter, until Tuesday 22 January 2021, unless otherwise approved by the Head of Jurisdiction. 
  • Special measures in Appeals and Full Court Hearings:
    • All matters and hearings to be conducted via telephone, AV link or on papers where appropriate
    • No in-person hearings, unless in exceptional circumstances
    • All Appeal Books, documents, List of Authorities and Legislation or additional material must be filed electronically
  • Special measures in relation to warrants for the arrest of ships available on Court website
  • Public facing counters and face-to-face services closed from Tuesday 24 March 2020 
  • Registries are still working to provide services via telephone and online
  • Documents to be filed electronically or via email. Those who do not have access to these methods to contact registry by telephone
  • Court will allow electronic signing of documents
  • Viewing subpoenaed materials by appointment only for matters to be heard in the next 4 weeks
  • Court will contact parties for regarding newly filed judge matters
  • Court will contact parties for listed matters to make arrangements to hear matters on papers, via telephone or AV link
  • If alternative arrangements are not possible, matters may be vacated or adjourned
  • For longer listings, practitioners and parties must work with the court to identify how and when listings may proceed
  • Federal Court has commenced communicating with all parties with matters listed for hearing in the upcoming months
  • Parties are requested to identify (with the assistance of the Court) opportunities for listings to proceed via telephone or other remote access technology

Family Court and Federal Circuit Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • There will be no face-to-face services in the Court’s WA registry until 6:00pm Friday 5 February 2021, unless otherwise approved by the Head of Jurisdiction. Online and phone services are available. 
  • A QR Code system and manual registers are being introduced as a means of registering public attendance in court buildings. The registration and use of QR Codes are voluntary.

Joint Practice Direction 1 of 2021 - The COVID-19 List

  • This Practice Direction revokes Practice Direction 3 of 2020.
  • It expands the fast-tracked, national COVID-19 List in each court to allow the courts to swiftly deal with urgent or priority applications related to COVID-19.
  • In triaging an application, the National Registrar will consider whether the matter is suitable for an urgent electronic mediation or conciliation and may make orders to facilitate this.
  • The list will operate electronically, meaning that applications may be heard by a Judge or Senior Registrar from any Registry.
  • Applications to be placed in the COVID-19 List are to be filed by email.
  • Applications and affidavits may be signed electronically. Affidavits may be filed without a qualifying witness also signing the document.
     
  • There will be no face-to-face services at the Sydney, Parramatta and Wollongong counters until 27 January 2021, and at the Brisbane counter until 22 January 2021, unless otherwise approved by the Head of Jurisdiction.
  • All face-to-face hearings in the Melbourne and Dandenong registries are suspended for at least the next six weeks (from 8 July 2020) unless expressly authorised by the Chief Justice and only in urgent circumstances
    • The Courts remain open by conducting trials and other hearings electronically via telephone or Microsoft Teams
  • The Courts are increasing in-person work in a staggered way over the coming months
  • The Courts will be minimising the number of people in Court and implementing social distancing practices
  • All work that can be heard remotely should continue to be heard by video
  • Any face-to-face hearings will be conducted in accordance with the social distancing
  • Only urgent and appropriate matters will be dealt with in-person
  • Child Dispute Services – where possible, interviews should be conducted electronically
    • For in person CDS interviews, social distancing measures will be in place as well as limits on the number of people per room
  • The Courts are increasing face-to-face hearings in a staggered way over the coming months commencing Monday, 15 June 2020
  • Any face-to-face hearings from Monday, 15 June 2020 need to be approved by the relevant case management judge
  • Priority will be given to urgent trials and urgent hearings of applications that the judge considers cannot be dealt with via Microsoft Teams or over the telephone
  • Additional measures to ensure social distancing and cleaning in courtrooms will be in place
  • The Courts are establishing a COVID-19 list to deal exclusively with urgent parenting-related disputes that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    • The list will commence on 29 April 2020 and will operate initially for approximately three months, but this will be assessed
    • To expedite the urgent applications, matters will be dealt with through electronic means—from filing via email to conducting hearings via Microsoft Teams
    • Applications to be placed in this list to be done via email
  • From 25 March 2020, temporary debt relief measures for individuals and businesses:
    • Debt threshold for creditors to apply for a Bankruptcy Notice against a debtor will increase from $5,000 to $20,000.
    • Timeframe for a debtor to respond to a Bankruptcy Notice before a creditor can commence bankruptcy proceedings will be increased from 21 days to up to six months.
    • Temporary protection period procedure available for debtors to prevent recovery action by unsecured creditors will increase from 21 days to six months.
  • These temporary measures will be available for six months and do not impact on Bankruptcy Notices issued before 25 March 2020
  • Information for stakeholders on alternative dispute resolution, settlement and mediation services in different states and territories available on Court website
  • State border restrictions may affect families that have court orders in place that involve shared-parenting arrangements across State borders
    • There is currently no national approach to how parents should deal with this situation
    • The Courts strongly advise that families seek advice from the relevant State and Territory authorities
    • You may be required to provide the appropriate court order to border control personnel
  • Migration applications
    • Matters listed before 30 June 2020 attendance at court not required. Matters will be decided by consent or on papers. The Court will contact you, in writing, to make arrangements for your hearing
    • Matters listed after 1 July 2020 will likely proceed in person. Parties will be advised if alternative arrangements are needed
  • Family Court remains open to assist people and recognises that compliance with court orders may be difficult in changing circumstances
  • Registries are open for telephone calls and online services
  • Parents are encouraged to reach alternate agreements, if necessary. These should be in writing and consent order applications for varied parenting orders may be filed electronically
  • The Court will continue to conduct hearings via AV link or telephone and face-to-face in limited circumstances
  • Family Dispute Resolution services remain available online
  • Public facing counters and face-to-face services closed from Tuesday 24 March 2020 
  • Registries are still working to provide services via telephone and online
  • Priority will be given to urgent matters (e.g. those involving risk of family violence)
  • New Practice Direction taking effect immediately - all documents should be e-filed or emailed to relevant registry. Hard copy documents should not be posted or delivered to Registry
  • Viewing of subpoenas by appointment only. Parties should only request to view subpoenaed material if the matter is urgent
  • Signatures on documents and affidavits may be done electronically
  • Different protocols for different lists, wherever possible matters will continue via telephone or AV link, or will follow face-to-face protocols
  • Parties will be contacted by the Court indicating that a matter will be heard by telephone
  • Parties will have an opportunity to approach the court seeking that a matter not proceed via telephone
  • For face to face hearings, priority will be given to urgent matters that the judge considers cannot be dealt with over the phone
  • Urgent and priority trials and contested hearings to proceed in safest manner possible
  • Non-urgent property only and parenting trials may be adjourned at discretion of the judge
  • Trials or hearings to be conducted by telephone where possible
  • High volume lists to be staggered to reduce the number of people in attendance at one time
  • For final hearings the judge will conduct a telephone callover for defended hearings in the next 2 months. Parties should the judge of the urgency and status of the case
  • Low priority cases may be sent to ADR event and the matter will be adjourned until further notice
  • High priority cases will remain listed and following in-court protocol 
  • Security screening will also be staggered
  • Appeals in Sydney commencing the week of 20 April and 18 May will be conducted for no longer than 1.5 hours in court with judges appearing via AV link or telephone if necessary
  • Appeals in Adelaide commencing the week of 4 May will be conducted for no longer than 1.5 hours in court with presiding judge and the other two judges appearing via AV link or telephone
  • Appeals in Melbourne commencing the week of 4 May will be conducted with all three judges appearing via AV link or telephone
  • Trials or hearings to be conducted by telephone where possible. Parties will be provided with listing times and operational instructions for telephone hearings by the Court
  • 8 person cap on non-court staff in a courtroom at one time. Any additional people must remain outside the courtroom
  • Sydney Federal Circuit Court callovers vacated and adjourned to a date to be fixed. Callovers in Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane, Parramatta and Adelaide postponed until further notice
  • Regional circuits of the Federal Circuit Court under review and may be adjourned or conducted by telephone
  • Migration matters that can be conducted by telephone or AV link to proceed. If an in-person hearing is required, it may be postponed, subject to urgency of the case
  • Other general federal law matters may proceed in person at judge’s discretion, if safe and subject to 8 person in-court cap
  • Registrar migration lists suspended
  • Parties encouraged to only bring essential attendees to court
  • Parties not to enter courtroom until matter is called
  • Changes to Registrars’ practices to maximise the use of telephone and AV link hearings
  • High volume lists to be staggered to reduce the number of people in attendance at one time
  • Matters may be adjourned if not practicable via telephone and non-urgent
  • Matters that are not practicable via telephone and are urgent will proceed face-to-face
  • Interpreters will also appear via telephone if possible
  • Short matters for mention or directions hearings will be listed at 30 minute intervals
  • Longer contested matters will not be listed for more than 1.5 hours, with time between hearings for cleaning to occur
  • 8 person cap on non-court staff in a courtroom at one time. Any additional people must remain outside the courtroom
  • Social distancing in the courtroom is required. Seats will be marked in each courtroom (1.5-2 metres apart). 
  • All applications and documents must be e-filed or emailed to Registry. Where possible, avoid handing up documents directly
  • Child Dispute Conferences will be conducted via telephone, parties will be sent details
  • Family report interviews will proceed, unless otherwise advised

AAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • The Perth registry is currently closed to visitors, online services are available.
  • Parties must call ahead if they need to come to the AAT offices
  • The Adelaide and Melbourne registries are closed to visitors.
  • Physical distancing and other protective measures are in place at registries
  • Most of what you need to do with the AAT can be done online, including: 
    • Lodging a new application
    • Submitting a document for any case that has already been lodged
    • Emailing about new or existing application
  • The AAT is taking steps to resume limited in-person hearings in our Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Perth and Sydney registries
  • The listing of in-person hearings will be considered on a case by case basis in accordance with the AAT’s practice directions
  • In-person hearings for matters deemed appropriate are expected to commence within the next few weeks
  • Parties will be contacted by the Tribunal as to hearing arrangements
  • Most AAT hearings and all AAT conferences will continue to be conducted remotely by video conference or telephone for some time
  • AAT has released Practice Directions in the following Divisions, taking effect from 29 April 2020 until superseded or revoked:
    • General, Freedom of Information and Veterans’ Appeals
    • Migration & Refugee
    • National Disability Insurance Scheme
    • Small Business Taxation and Taxation & Commercial
    • Social Services & Child Support.
  • Previous Directions will continue to apply, however, where the terms of new Directions are inconsistent with the terms of another direction on the same matter, the terms of the new Directions apply
  • Registries are closed to all visitors until further notice. Services will be provided electronically
  • Staff remain available to answer calls, emails and process online applications 
  • Oral applications for review can be made via telephone
  • Written applications for review can be lodged online, via email or via post (if you cannot send by email)
  • Documents can be lodged electronically online or via email
  • If you cannot lodge electronically, you may lodge via post or phone registry to discuss
  • Documents may be signed by scanning or photographing signed hard copies, or by using electronic signatures or typing your name
  • There will be no in-person hearings (including pre-hearing processes and summonses), unless in exceptional circumstances.  Hearings will be by telephone or AV link
  • A request to issue one or more summonses to produce documents must be in writing
  • AAT will not postpone a scheduled hearing unless there are good reasons to justify the postponement 
  • AAT will triage and prioritise certain urgent matters
  • Parties may request to expedite decisions in some cases
  • Parties may consent to the Tribunal deciding the review without a hearing in some cases

New South Wales 

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • The Court continues to recommend the use of masks, however masks are not required when attending Court or the public registry. The Court has no objection to a person wearing a mask in Court.
  • Physical distancing is required, each courtroom has signs indicating the number of people permitted in the courtroom.
  • The public and legal practitioners are required to ‘check-in’ using QR codes placed on each floor. 
  • Staged return of civil proceedings.
    • Stage 1 will commence on Monday, 1 June 2020. The commencement dates of stages 2 and 3 will be determined by the prevailing health advice.
  • Matters will be case managed to ensure the minimum number of people in the building and within each courtroom.
  • Hybrid hearings, utilising the court’s audio visual links and in person appearances will occur. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the judicial officer hearing the matter.
  • The start and finish time will be communicated three business days ahead of the court hearing by the court registry. Matters will be staggered at 20 minute intervals.
  • Duty Registrars services will continue to be ‘digital first’ offering services via email and telephone.
  • As the Court slowly and safely reopens its courtrooms, all reasonable steps and precautions will be taken to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 including:
    • staggered courtroom start and finish times, commencing at 9am and sitting up to 5pm
    • new jury selection procedures
    • temperature checks for court users
    • visual guidance in courtrooms to follow physical distancing requirements
    • hand sanitiser stations
    • increased cleaning and disinfecting, focusing on high traffic areas.
  • Court of Appeal – in addition to filing physical Appeal Books and White Folders, parties should also file electronic copies on USBs, CDs, DVDs or via email. Contact Registry to arrange delivery.
  • Documents to be provided by email, except for lengthy documents which can be provided in hard copy to be arranged with Associates.
  • Documents must be submitted via Online Court, E-Subpoena or Online Registry.

District Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • The Court continues to recommend the use of masks, however masks are not required when attending Court or the public registry. The Court has no objection to a person wearing a mask in Court.
  • Physical distancing is required in each courtroom and court buildings. 
  • The Court’s general policy for 2021, in its criminal and civil jurisdictions will be for appearances in Court to be in person. 
  • However, the following lists will be conducted remotely:
    • Criminal Jurisdiction: 
      • Country call-overs and readiness hearings in the District Court at Sydney.
      • Consent applications to vary bail.
    • Civil Jurisdiction:           
      • All lists conducted by Judges, the judicial registrar and assistant registrars.
  • Masks should be worn in all public Court buildings and courtrooms, unless otherwise advised. 
  • Physical distancing is required.
  • Procedure for Jury Empanelment in the Downing Centre will use two adjacent courts with specialised AV facilities to maintain social distancing.
  • All court participants, including jurors and counsel will be screened on entry into the building.
  • Pre-trial directions, readiness hearings and case management procedures have been put in place to ensure that all trials are ready to commence as close to the listed day as possible. 
  • Parties will be required to certify that all pre-trial issues have been identified and ruled upon before a jury is empanelled.
  • Limits on the number of people in a courtroom and social distancing measures will be adhered to.
  • Media may access Virtual Courtrooms online. Instructions on how to access on Court’s website.
  • Judge alone trials to continue. 

Local Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement 

Measures:

  • Masks should be worn in all public Court buildings and courtrooms, unless otherwise advised. 
  • Physical distancing is required.
  • There are no longer restrictions on filing any applications. It remains the preference that the court be contacted via email/phone prior to attending in person.

Physical appearance

  • Parties essential to a proceeding, including legal representatives, witnesses, or someone requiring face to face registry services may attend in person. 
  • Media representatives are also permitted. 
  • Up to two support persons are able to attend in limited circumstances.
  • Matters not listed for hearing or sentence may be dealt with without a physical appearance as follows:
    • Legally represented – legal representatives may enter an appearance, make a request and/or indicate a plea to the court in writing/ by email.
    • Plea of not guilty is entered – the court will make orders for the service of the brief of evidence if required.
    • Unrepresented parties – parties may contact the court by email with a request for an adjournment, including the reason for the request.
  • Entering a plea may be done in writing.  
  • The physical appearance of the defendant and their legal representative is required at sentencing (except for fine only offences).
  • Defendants in custody will appear by AVL, unless an order has been made to attend in person.

Children's Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement 

  • Any young person who is in custody in a Youth Detention Centre is to appear before the Children’s Court by AV link unless:
    • the case is listed for hearing; and
    • the hearing cannot proceed without the young person’s attendance in person;
    • the hearing can be heard at one of the following locations; Parramatta, Surry Hills, Campbelltown, Woy Woy or Broadmeadow Children’s Court;
    • hearings at other locations where the young person is in custody may be adjourned to one of the five courts specified to enable the hearing to proceed if it is appropriate to do so.
  • All other arrangements specified in earlier Public Notices issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to operate.

Criminal Jurisdiction

  • Defendants and their lawyers are to attend court in person for sentences and hearings.
  • Lawyers and police prosecutors are expected to appear in person for all other listings.
  • The presumption that defendants are excused from attending if legally represented will continue to apply to listings where case management directions are expected to be made.

Care jurisdiction

  • Parties who have provided full instructions to a lawyer will continue to be excused from attending in person for directions hearings.
  • Video conference appearances by lawyers will continue to be available for directions hearings and hearings on the papers.
  • Lawyers for the parents are expected to attend in person on the first return date for an application for an Emergency Care and Protection order. Parents are excused from attending if legally represented.
  • Judicial Officers will resume travel to some Children Court circuit locations from 6 July 2020.
  • First appearance bail proceedings will no longer be conducted in hub locations from Monday 22 June 2020.
  • Urgent care applications will no longer be conducted in hub locations from 6 July 2020.
  • Hearings currently listed from Monday 4 May 2020 are to be listed for a Readiness Hearing to determine how the matter might proceed safely.
  • The conduct of care hearings are suspended until at least 1 May 2020 unless a hearing can be conducted on the papers or a part-heard case can be concluded safely.
  • Urgent care applications where a child has been removed or assumed into care will continue to be heard at Parramatta Children’s Court until further notice.
  • Directions lists will continue.
  • Lawyers for the applicant are to contact all other parties, propose directions or orders and attempt to achieve consent, then email the Court a summary.
  • If a party disputes the proposed directions or orders, this may in writing via email or orally. The Court will determine the matter on written submissions (via email) or via AV link (for oral submissions).
  • The Court will receive unsworn affidavits and may receive unsigned documents if it is not possible to get electronic signatures.
  • Documents to be filed should be emailed to Registry.
  • Criminal proceedings listed between Tuesday 24 March and Friday 1 May will be vacated and listed for call-over after 1 May 2020.
  • Part heard matters may continue at the discretion of the presiding judicial officer.
  • Any applications to relist for bail variation, release, variation of orders, hearing on the papers or further directions should be made via email to relevant registry.
  • Where defendant is in custody matters may be heard by telephone or AV link if the accused is legally represented.
  • Where defendant does not have legal representative, matters will be adjourned for 4 weeks.
  • Lists scheduled in the Care jurisdiction will continue. Parties should not attend court premises wherever possible.
  • Travel of judicial officers for circuit sittings is suspended. Judicial officers will appear at circuit locations by AV link from other courts.

Coroners Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement 

  • From 1 June 2020 physical attendance at courts at the FMCCC will be permitted.
  • Court proceedings may continue to be heard using technology to enable remote appearances
  • Everyone entering the FMCCC foyer will be screened and have their temperature taken. 
  • Entry may be denied and there will be strict limits on the number of people allowed in each court
  • Up to 30 June 2020, only Court matters that can be conducted using technology to allow parties, witnesses and families to appear will continue. 
  • All other inquests in that period will be adjourned to a later date. Families and parties are being notified by the Court
  • All inquests scheduled in country locations in that period will be given new dates
     

NCAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • Currently, all NCAT hearings will be held online or by phone. 
  • Priority will be given to urgent cases. 
  • Avoid attending an NCAT Registry.
  • Applications and documents can be lodged online, by post or via Service NSW.
  • The Tribunal is conducting all stages of its hearings by phone, AV link or on the papers.
  • No face-to-face hearings will be conducted without prior approval of the President. 
  • If you are scheduled to attend by phone and you are too unwell to participate, for a reason related to the Coronavirus, you may apply for an adjournment by contacting the Registry by email.
  • The Tribunal has outlined which matters are urgent in each list on their website.

Queensland 

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • Jury trials resumed Tuesday 6 April.
  • A mask must be worn at all times in a courthouse.
  • Subject to judicial direction, the mask may be removed while seated.
  • Counter services have resumed at all registries in greater Brisbane.
  • Protocol for Applications – Brisbane:
    • Parties or practitioners are required to attend court in person for the hearing unless leave has been granted by a judge to appear by telephone or AV link.
    • Any application to appear via telephone or AV link must provide reasons and be sent by email.
  • Protocol for Corporations Registrar Applications, applies from Monday 24 August 2020 until further notice:
    • All parties in matters listed before the Registrar Applications, must email the Corporations Clerk by 4pm on the day before the application is listed.
    • Short matters will be dealt with in the call-over.
    • All other matters requiring an oral hearing will be allocated a “not before” time and will be notified by email.
    • Parties and practitioners in applications requiring an oral hearing, including Enforcement Hearings, are expected to attend court in person for the hearing.
    • If it is not practicable to appear in person you may appear by telephone or video conference, subject to leave being granted by the court.
  • Admission sittings in Brisbane will proceed with the applicant for admission appearing in person.
    • Applicants wishing to take an oath must bring their own Bibles for that purpose.
    • Applicants should bring their own blue or black ink pen.
    • Admissions at other locations may be by AV link or in person depending on the procedures in place.
  • The Court has implemented a number of measures to reduce the risk of jurors being exposed to COVID-19.
  • Regional centres will also recommence listing jury trials to the extent possible.
  • In most centres the listing of sentences for persons currently on bail and facing actual imprisonment can be increased on a gradual basis.
  • Changes to Informal Wills to apply to documents that are executed between 1 March 2020 and 30 September 2020. Testator may execute documents in the presence of witnesses via AV link rather than in physical presence. Satisfactory evidence must be provided to registry as well as other criteria outlined on Court website.
  • Documents can be filed by post or placed in drop box in the foyer. Self-represented litigants may book appointments with registry staff to file documents.
  • Parties are encouraged to take steps to agreeing on orders or directions. Agreed orders or directions are to be emailed to court.
  • Those who are unwell or have been overseas instructed not to attend a court location.
  • Those not directly participating asked to consider whether attendance at court is necessary.

District Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • Jury trials resumed Tuesday 6 April.
  • A mask must be worn at all times in a courthouse.
  • Subject to judicial direction, the mask may be removed while seated.
  • Counter services have resumed at all registries in greater Brisbane.
  • The Court has implemented a number of measures to reduce the risk of jurors being exposed to COVID-19.
  • Regional centres will also recommence listing jury trials to the extent possible.
  • In most centres the listing of sentences for persons currently on bail and facing actual imprisonment can be increased on a gradual basis.
  • Documents can be filed by post or placed in drop box in the foyer. Self-represented litigants may book appointments with registry staff to file documents.
  • Presiding judge will determine if matters can be conducted via telephone or AV link
  • Social distancing measures are in place for face-to-face hearings.
  • If parties reach consent, they should notify Associates via email for the matter to be heard on papers. 
  • Parties are encouraged to seek administrative listing or delisting of sentence hearings and non-jury matters, where both sides are in agreement.

Land Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

  • No direct counter services will be provided at Registry. Documents can be filed by post or placed in drop box in the foyer. Self-represented litigants may book appointments with registry staff to file documents
  • Land Court will continue to deal with matters as listed via AV link or teleconference. No parties need apply for leave of the Court to appear in this way
  • Social distancing measures will be enforced for in person hearings
  • All parties are requested to file documents by mail or email wherever possible

Magistrates’ Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • Arrangements have been made to ensure matters are dealt with in a safe manner.
  • From 22 January 2021, masks may be worn into court buildings but you should remove your mask if requested by security or a court representative.
  • Masks must be worn within Court buildings, unless making oral submissions or at the discretion of the presiding Magistrate. 
  • A mask will be supplied if needed.
  • The Remand List will now accept new matters to be listed from June 15 2020.
  • From 14 June, Practice Direction 3 2020 is repealed. Practice Direction 5 2020 will take effect from 15 June.
    • Physical distancing and staggered listing times will apply in courtrooms
    • Parties may apply to appear via AV link or telephone.
    • Other than criminal trials, proceedings involving a person in custody will be via AV link unless otherwise ordered by a Magistrate.
    • All other trials, committals, pleas, hearings and applications will proceed in person unless otherwise ordered by a Magistrate.
    • Witnesses will appear in person unless otherwise granted leave to appear by AV link by a Magistrate.
    • Parties may contact registry to obtain AV link or telephone details for a proceeding.
    • For appearances via AV link or telephone all documents to be relied on must be emailed to registry.

Children’s Court

  • From 14 June, Practice Direction 4 2020 is repealed. Practice Direction 6 2020 will take effect from 15 June
    • Measures are the same as Practice Direction 5 2020 for the Magistrates Court
  • Same practices apply as in Magistrates’ Court, except for the below
  • Each of the Courts sitting will hear: 
    • Overnight custody arrests - children 
    • Urgent child protection applications 
    • Bail applications including applications to vary bail 
    • Sentences, including lengthy sentences, where a child is likely to be released from detention 
    • Sentences where any delay affects whether an offender is treated as an adult or child under Part 6 Division 11 subdivision 4 of the Youth Justice Act 1992. 
    • Where a defendant is in detention- committal and summary mentions 
    • Applications under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 
    • Other matters where leave is given by a Magistrate
  • All other criminal and child protection matters be adjourned on the papers by a Magistrate without appearance to a date to be fixed
     

QCAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • Arrangements have been made to ensure matters are dealt with in a safe manner.
  • It is recommended to wear a mask at all times when visiting QCAT.
  • QCAT’s registry is operating as normal.
  • QCAT has commenced a staged resumption of “in person” hearings at 259 Queen Street, Brisbane.
    • Guardianship matters will be the first to allow in person hearings.
    • All other matters, such as administrative reviews and minor civil disputes to follow on 14 September 2020.
    • All Directions Hearings, Compulsory Conferences and Mediations will continue by phone until further notice.
    • Everyone who attends hearings at QCAT will be required to provide their details for potential contact tracing and sign a COVID-19 declaration.
    • People attending the QCAT premises must comply with social distancing rules.
    • Anyone who would prefer to attend their hearing by phone or AV link may make an application to do so.
  • Retail Shop Leases and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 (QLD), commenced on 28 May 2020
  • Provides that a lessor under an affected lease must not take a prescribed action (s 9 – includes recovery of possession, termination of the lease, eviction of the lessee etc.) on any of the following grounds during the response period (29 March 2020 until 30 September 2020)
    • a failure to pay rent for a period occurring wholly or partly during the response period;
    • a failure to pay outgoings for a period occurring wholly or partly during the response period;
    • the business carried on at the leased premises not being open for business during the hours required .
  • Non-urgent Minor Civil Dispute matters.
    • Hearings are to be conducted by telephone or AV link, unless otherwise agreed by presiding member.
    • For all matters requiring a hearing, applicants and respondents must comply with measure in Practice Direction 5 2020.
    • Preferred method of filing documents is by email.
  • Minor Civil Dispute Tenancy applications to which the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 applies.
    • Hearings are to be conducted by telephone or AV link, unless otherwise agreed by presiding member.
    • Applications must include; a completed COVID Tenancy Checklist, all material to be relied on and respondent’s address and telephone number.
    • If a tenant is claiming to have suffered hardship due to COVID-19, they must include all evidence. 
    • Respondents must email relevant registry if participating in hearing.
  • Retail Tenancy Disputes from 24 April 2020.
    • New legislation provides for the appointment of a Small Business Commissioner, who may assist small business in reaching informal resolution for disputes relating to small business leases & administer a mediation process.
  • Changes to QCAT Residential Tenancy Disputes from 24 April 2020.
    • Moratorium on evicting a tenant who fails to pay rent if the failure relates to the tenant suffering excessive hardship because of the COVID-19 emergency, backdated to 29 March 2020.
    • Residential Tenancy Authority may conciliate disputes about unpaid rent before any application to QCAT.
    • Also provides greater protections for tenants experiencing domestic and family violence.

Coroners Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement 

  • Coroners across the State have commenced scheduling and hearing inquest matters.
  • The Court will operate within the Chief Health Officer guidelines regarding physical distancing. Limits on the number of persons in attendance in a courtroom will be enforced.
  • Legal representatives and witnesses may apply for leave to appear by telephone or AV link.
  • Participation in hearings for families will be facilitated, where possible, by telephone or AV link.
  • The Court is managing any other inquest-related applications as necessary by email, telephone or AV link.
  • All inquest hearings scheduled to commence in Brisbane before 30 June 2020 will be adjourned.
  • Inquests across the rest of the State will also be adjourned to a date to be fixed after July 2020.
  • The Court will continue to finalise findings and deal with applications via telephone or AV link.

South Australia 

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • Normal listings will resume on 25 November 2020.
  • New jury trials commencing from Tuesday 6 October 2020 will be conducted in a single courtroom using the existing dedicated jury facilities. 
  • The Court will maintain cleaning and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19
  • On 31 August 2020, the Court resolved to revoke the COVID-19 practice changes of 20 March 2020, subject to the following.   
    • Public health measures adapted to the directions and recommendations of public health authority will be maintained.  
    • The UCR will be amended so that submissions, rather than outlines, will be required in all appeal matters before the Court.  
    • In the case of applications for permission to appeal in criminal matters, those submissions must be provided three business days before the day on which the application is listed. 
  • The Supreme Court Library is reopening from Monday 15 June 2020 with access by appointment. Appointments can be booked via email
  • From 9 June 2020, all listing practices, including mediations, will return to normal. All matters will be heard in court, unless other arrangements are made with chambers prior to the hearing
  • For matters up to and including 5 June 2020, the current protocols will continue to apply, except where they have been modified in consultation with chambers
  • Go-live date for civil electronic court management system (ECMS) will be on 18 May 2020
  • Affidavits must continue to be witnessed in person, with safety precautions in place
  • However, if this is not possible, a solicitor should exhibit the deponent’s unsworn affidavit to his/her own affidavit, with an undertaking to file the sworn original once it is possible to have it sworn
  • From Monday, 6 April 2020 the Courts Administration Authority will no longer be accepting cash or cheque payments. Payments can be made with a debit or credit card. Exceptions will be made for the payment of cash bails ordered in court
  • From Monday 30 March 2020 all Mediations will be postponed until June 2020
  • Documents to be filed via email or registered post
  • Directions hearings to be conducted by electronic audio communications unless otherwise decided by the judge. Any documents to be submitted by email 
  • Civil and Criminal Listing Conferences to be conducted by electronic audio communications unless otherwise decided by the judge
  • No changes to arraignments 
  • Applications for Permission to Appeal (criminal and civil – single judge) to be decided on papers. Written submissions to be provided by email
  • Applications for Permission to Appeal (civil – full court) – no changes
  • Magistrates Appeals – Parties required to provide full written submissions. Documents must be provided by email before the hearing. Hearing time will be shortened to reflect full submissions required
  • Sentencing Hearings – Parties required to take reasonable steps to minimise length of hearing, including providing factual summaries, chronologies and submissions the day before the hearing
  • Length of hearings will be limited to 2 hours. 
  • Defendants in custody will appear via AV link
  • Jury trials will be managed consistent with public health directions. Jurors will not be confined to jury box. Public access to courtroom limited. Jurors will retire to adjacent court room for breaks. Exemptions granted for jurors who are genuinely anxious about or physiologically vulnerable to COVID-19
  • Civil trials to continue. Parties to provide documents electronically wherever reasonably practicable. Counsel required to consider measures to expedite hearing or limit hearing to truly contested issues. Counsel to raise with the Judge if safe distancing practices or other public health practices have limited their capacity to properly prepare for the trial
  • Public encouraged not to attend court
  • Possession matters (except where order for possession sought) or matters under Corporations Act 2001 (except for winding up applications) to be dealt with in same way as directions hearings
  • Settlement conferences to be held at alternative venues
  • Mediations postponed unless all parties consent to mediation taking place
  • Admissions ceremonies cancelled until further notice. Certified applicants will be admitted. Contact Court to arrange taking the oath and signing the Roll

District Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • New jury trials will resume in the District Court from next Monday 30 November 2020.
  • This announcement follows the temporary suspension of new jury trials, since last Wednesday 18 November 2020.
  • Normal listings will resume on 25 November 2020.
  • New jury trials commencing from Tuesday 6 October 2020 will be conducted in a single courtroom using the existing dedicated jury facilities. 
  • The Court will maintain cleaning and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19
  • Jury trials will be commencing in full from the first week in August. However, the number of listed jury trials able to be reached will be limited
  • Social distancing restrictions will impact the in-court configuration for the jury, the empanelment of juries, the jury deliberation room as well as the induction of jury pools
  • Counsel/parties and potential witnesses should be aware that they may need to be available into the following week in case their matter runs over
  • From Monday 1 June 2020, all listing practices, including settlement conferences, will return to normal.  All matters will be heard in court, unless other arrangements are made with chambers prior to the hearing
    • Parties and practitioners are expected to observe social distancing requirements
    • Parties are not to physically approach court staff in the court
  • For matters up to and including 29 May 2020, the current protocols will continue to apply
  • Jury Trials in Adelaide - The District Court now proposes to bring forward the recommencement of jury trials, for a small number of matters, to the second week of July 2020
    • The Court will communicate with the parties of those jury trials identified to commence in July
  • Criminal Matters from 8 May 2020. Jury Trials and Circuits:
    • The Mount Gambier Circuit in July will proceed as a normal circuit with jury trials. Country circuits thereafter will also proceed as normal circuits with jury trials
  • Matters that are already listed for trial by judge alone or preliminary hearing from 1 July 2020 onwards will retain their current trial dates. The Court will continue to see if some trials can be brought forward
  • Any election for a trial by judge alone, where the matter is already listed for trial by jury, should be made by filing and serving the usual application
  • Parties with matters listed for second directions hearing callovers in May, June and July 2020 will be contacted, with a view to dealing with individual matters administratively, including new elections for trial by judge alone, vacating and setting further trial dates
  • From 11 May 2020 - All non-contentious directions hearings will be done via email:
    • Adjournments will be by email
    • If substantive orders are required, parties are to send in consent orders
    • If parties are intending to adjourn a matter or seek orders by consent they should advise the Masters’ clerks by COB the day before the hearing by emailing chambers
  • Settlement Conferences currently listed will be held between the parties by telephone or other agreed method, without court involvement
  • Affidavits must continue to be witnessed in person, with safety precautions in place
  • However, if this is not possible, a solicitor should exhibit the deponent’s unsworn affidavit to his/her own affidavit, with an undertaking to file the sworn original once it is possible to have it sworn
  • All matters before District Court Masters for the 4 weeks commencing 14 April will be:
    • All non-contentious directions hearings to be conducted via email. All adjournments and consent orders via email
    • If parties cannot agree on consent orders, a telephone link will be arranged for hearings. If this is not possible, only as a last resort, will an in-person hearing take place observing social distancing measures 
    • Currently listed settlement conferences may be conducted via telephone or AV link without court involvement. Parties are to advise chambers of the outcome
    • No documents are to be handed up in court
    • Parties are to do their utmost to resolve arguments and if not, consider whether they can limit the argument to submissions on the papers
  • From Monday, 6 April 2020 the Courts Administration Authority will no longer be accepting cash or cheque payments. Payments can be made with a debit or credit card. Exceptions will be made for the payment of cash bails ordered in court
  • Documents to be filed via email or registered post
  • Public encouraged not to attend court
  • New jury trials suspended on 16 March. Existing jury trials to continue at discretion of presiding judicial officer
  • Judge alone criminal trials, pre-trial argument, bail applications, guilty pleas, arraignments and civil trials unaffected. Court is looking to bring forward trial dates for judge-alone trials from later in the year.
  • New applications for election for judge-alone trial may be dealt with administratively, and if granted, an early trial date will be considered
  • Not guilty arraignments to be listed with a view to minimising the number of people in court at any one time. Accused in custody to appear by AV link unless parties notify the court otherwise. Counsel encouraged to wait with their client outside the courtroom until the matter is called
  • First directions hearing callovers cancelled
  • Guilty plea arraignments will be listed with view to minimising the number of people in court at any one time
  • Sentencing to be conducted by AV link if defendant in custody unless request for defendant to appear in person
  • Non-contentious directions hearings before Masters to be done by email
  • Masters hearings to be conducted with 1.5m social distancing rule, and parties encouraged to contact the court to arrange possible telephone hearing in contentious interlocutory matters
  • Settlement conferences to be held at alternative venues
  • Practitioners instructed not to come to court if they have fever, flu-like symptoms, have returned to Australia in last 14 days or have had close contact with a COVID-19 case
  • Practitioners vulnerable to infection to contact the court to make alternative arrangements

Environment, Resources and Development Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures: 

  • All listing practices will return to normal including conferences.  
  • All matters will be heard in Court, unless other arrangements are made by or with chambers approval prior to the hearing or conference. 
  • Requests for administrative adjournments and other requests must be received at least two business days prior to any hearing or conference
  • Parties and practitioners are expected to observe social distancing requirements. 
  • Previous advice by the Registrar in relation to minimizing attendance at the Registry for filing of documents is hereby rescinded

Magistrates Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

Arrangements from 1 November 2020:

  • Parties and practitioners are not to come to the Court, if they have a confirmed case of COVID-19, are a close contact of a confirmed case, have arrived from overseas or a restricted state, or have flu-like symptoms
  • Obligations to appear in court may be excused in certain circumstances. If you reasonably believe you should self-isolate
    • If you do not intend to attend court for this reason, you must contact the court
  • Parties and practitioners must maintain a 1.5 metres distance
  • No documents are to be handed up in Court
    • Where possible, parties should lodge documents via CourtSA
  • The Court has implemented health and safety measures in court buildings

Criminal Proceedings

  • Listings have returned to normal and will be monitored
  • Circuits have recommenced
  • For overnight arrest matters defendants will appear by AV link
  • With permission of a magistrate, a solicitor may appear by AV link for a guilty plea while their client is in court. Magistrates may hear submissions by telephone
  • Prosecution and defence are encouraged to negotiate and disclose as much as possible, to attempt to reach an early resolution of matters
  • Requests to appear by AV link or telephone may be allowed
    • It is up to individual magistrates to decide
    • Applications to appear by AV link or telephone are to be submitted by email no later than 1 clear working day prior to the hearing
  • Defendants in custody will appear by AV link or telephone
  • Trials that are unable to proceed due to reasons related to COVID-19 restrictions will be adjourned
  • Prosecution are given permission to appear at major indictable hearings by AV link
  • Civil Proceedings
  • The Court may permit practitioners to appear by phone after the first directions hearing
  • For hearings and trials in all actions, parties and/or practitioners are to appear in person at Court unless they are granted leave to appear via phone
  • Settlement conferences are to be held between the parties by phone or at an alternative venue (not the Court precinct)
  • Mediations will occur in person unless the parties are granted leave of the Court to appear via phone or AV link

Youth Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • From Monday, 6 April 2020 the Courts Administration Authority will no longer be accepting cash or cheque payments. Payments can be made with a debit or credit card. Exceptions will be made for the payment of cash bails ordered in court
  • Trial books and applications to be made electronically via email
  • Practitioners instructed not to come to court if they have fever, flu-like symptoms, have returned to Australia in last 14 days or have had close contact with a COVID-19 case
  • Practitioners vulnerable to infection to contact the court to make alternative arrangements
  • Parties and practitioners to maintain at least 1.5m distance from court staff and each other
  • No documents to be handed up in court
  • Criminal matters may be administratively adjourned on consent. Parties to contested adjournments may apply to appear by phone or AV link
  • Care and Protection Interlocutory Hearings are not being automatically adjourned, but may be adjourned on application. Parties may apply to be heard by AV link
  • Care and Protection applications to be lodged electronically
  • No change to trial proceedings, but presiding judicial officer to decide how trial should proceed
  • Leave may be granted for witnesses to appear by AV link or telephone 

SACAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • From Monday, 6 April 2020 the Courts Administration Authority will no longer be accepting cash or cheque payments. Payments can be made with a debit or credit card. Exceptions will be made for the payment of cash bails ordered in court
  • Reception is closed for face-to-face services
  • Documents are to be lodged via email
  • All offsite hearings and visits suspended
  • Requirement for physical attendance at hearings suspended from Monday 23 March, with majority of hearings to be conducted by AV link or telephone 
  • SACAT may require some matters to proceed in person, with hearings conducted in accordance with public health information and available social distancing
  • Matters that can be deferred will be identified and relevant parties will be contacted
  • All non-essential meetings, presentations or training will be conducted via telephone, AV link or postponed

Western Australia 

In the Perth, Peel and South West regions (the affected regions) on 31
January 2021, the following general directions apply in relation to all court and
tribunal hearings:

  • All trials and substantive in-person hearings and all other in-person hearings (including mediations) listed during the week beginning 1 February 2021 in the affected regions will be vacated, unless alternative arrangements are expressly made for them to continue. This includes all jury trials.
  • Each court will determine whether other in-person hearings (including mediations) listed for 2 February to 5 February will proceed as listed.
  • Each court and tribunal will maintain its duty roster for any matter that is urgent.
  • Unless other arrangements are made, hearings in Western Australia outside the affected regions will proceed as listed.

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • Jury trials in criminal proceedings will resume from the week commencing 20 July 2020
  • Measures will be taken to ensure social distancing for jurors
  • Court of Appeal
    • In criminal appeal hearings where all parties are legally represented, counsel and one instructing solicitor for each party may appear in person at all hearings
    • Offenders will continue to appear by video link
    • In civil appeal hearings counsel and one instructing solicitor for each party, or a self-represented party, may appear in person at all hearings
    • Social distancing must be adhered to at all times
  • Supreme Court – General Division
    • Civil proceedings that involve witnesses giving oral evidence may be listed for hearing by the judicial officer concerned in the usual manner (previous direction in these matters is now revoked)
    • Civil trials will be conducted, in the ordinary course, with the attendance of counsel, solicitors and parties in person. Social distancing must be observed
    • Wherever possible, contested chambers hearings and General Division appeals (civil and criminal) will be conducted in person. Attendance by telephone may be arranged upon prior request
    • Directions hearings, case management conferences and strategic conferences will continue to be conducted by telephone
  • It is expected that, subject to final confirmation, formal admissions ceremonies will resume on 7 August 2020
  • Filing of appeal books in the Court of Appeal pending the establishment of elodgement and efiling:
    • The appellant must file at the Court of Appeal Office one hard copy of the white, blue and green appeal books. No requirement to provide an additional three hard copies of the appeal books
    • A copy of the appeal books must be made available to the Court by sharing a link by email to a Dropbox account or to a OneDrive folder
    • The appellant must still comply with the Supreme Court (Court of Appeal) Rules 2005
  • All jury trials listed to commence in April, May and June 2020 are vacated and will be listed for a status conference in July 2020
  • Trials by judge alone listed to commence in April, May and June 2020 will continue as listed
  • Any application for trial by judge alone will be heard and determined as a matter of priority. These trials will be listed to commence in May or June 2020
  • Chief Justice has clarified that the prohibition on public gatherings of more than 2 people does not apply to Courts and Tribunals, as they are essential services. However, Courts have taken measures to limit the number of people, observe social distancing and hygienic practices
  • Civil proceedings will still be conducted by telephone or AV link where possible
  • New jury trials suspended. Judge alone trials not affected
  • People with flu-like symptoms or who have traveled overseas in the last 14 days directed not to enter Court precincts. Parties and practitioners affected by this direction to contact the associate of the presiding judicial officer
  • Recommendation that only practitioners, parties, witnesses and media attend hearings. General public asked not to attend
  • No in-person filing of documents in the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court Registry. Page limits previously imposed for documents to be filed by email or fax machine suspended
  • Practitioners and parties seeking to inspect documents produced under subpoena must make arrangements to avoid unnecessary attendances at Court building
  • In-person appearances at appeal hearings suspended. Appeals to be conducted by telephone or AV link. Offenders in criminal appeals will appear by AV link or, if necessary, phone
  • In appeals that involve calling witnesses, only counsel and self-represented parties must be present in the courtroom. Social distancing measures will be applied. Witnesses must appear by AV link from a remote location
  • In-person appearances at status conferences and directions hearings suspended. Status conferences and directions hearings to be conducted by telephone or AV link
  • Public access to Court of Appeal limited to sitting in upstairs gallery. Well of the court limited to judges, personal staff of judges and any necessary security
  • Directions hearings, case management conferences and strategic conferences to be conducted by telephone. Delivery of judgments to be conducted by telephone or on the papers
  • Contested chambers hearings and General Division appeals to be conducted by telephone or on the papers
  • No new mediation conferences other than in exceptional circumstances (e.g. plaintiffs suffering from dust diseases). Mediations may be conducted by telephone or in larger mediation rooms to ensure appropriate social distancing
  • Civil trials before judges and criminal trials before judges alone continue, but only in courtrooms that can ensure appropriate social distancing. Otherwise they will be vacated
  • Documents other than exhibits not to be handed up in open court save in exceptional circumstances. Documents to be provided electronically before the hearing
  • Formal admissions ceremonies to be deferred. Urgent applications for admissions may be dealt with by a single counsel moving all admissions, with only applicants to attend the hearing

District Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • From 20 July 2020:
    • The Court will continue to expedite the hearing of trials where circumstances require, including circumstances in which the plaintiff may have a limited life expectancy
    • The Court will return to the practice of requiring the personal attendance of parties at the hearing of applications
  • Jury trials in criminal proceedings will resume from the week commencing 20 July 2020
  • Measures will be taken to ensure social distancing for jurors
  • Criminal Trials – the following applies from 6 April
    • All circuit trials and trials listed in Perth up to 3 July 2020 will be vacated and adjourned to a callover on 1 July 2020 for mention. Accused on bail will have their bail administratively extended to that date
    • The court will not generally conduct judge alone trials in substitution for vacated jury trials other than on application by accused in custody in exceptional circumstances
    • Parties may appear by AV link in most matters. If in-person attendance is required, parties must observe social distancing
    • Lists will be staggered 
    • Documentation must be filed electronically
  • Civil Trials
    • All civil trials listed for up to 3 July 2020 will be vacated except in exceptional circumstances
    • A callover will be conducted on 20 April 2020 of vacated trials. Each matter will be adjourned to a mediation
    • No new trials will be listed prior to 30 October 2020
    • All appeals will proceed via telephone
    • All other appearances before the court will be by telephone
  • Entry requirements - Only people who have involvement in a proceeding; require face-to-face services of the Registry; have the prior approval will be permitted entry to the District Court; or are representatives of new-media organisations
  • Chief Justice has clarified that the prohibition on public gatherings of more than 2 people does not apply to Courts and Tribunals, as they are essential services. However, Courts have taken measures to limit the number of people, observe social distancing and hygienic practices
  • Hearings will be conducted via telephone or AV link where possible. 
  • Those in custody will not be brought up or AV linked unless unrepresented
  • Where in person hearings continue, social distancing measures will be implemented 
  • All vacated matters will be listed for Compulsory Case Conferences 
  • New jury trials suspended. Judge alone trials not affected
  • Pre-trial conferences may be conducted off-site with the agreement of all parties
  • Sentence mention list to be broken into small groupings. Practitioners may appear by telephone. Accused on bail may answer bail by attending practitioner’s office and practitioner confirming client’s attendance, unless there is an issue with continuing bail or surety
  • Court users with COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposure, or who have recently travelled overseas or have contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case should contact the associate to the presiding judge on whether attendance is appropriate. Where possible, arrangements will be made for telephone or AV link attendance
  • Recommendation that only practitioners, parties, witnesses and media attend hearings. General public asked not to attend
  • No hard-copy filing of court documents. Documents to be e-filed or sent by email
  • Copy documents will not be accepted during hearings

Magistrates' Court

 annoucnmentLatest announcement

  • Court listings will return to normal effective from 2 June, 2020
  • Where a party does not wish to appear in person (due to self- isolation or falling into a “high risk” category), they may notify the Court in writing and request to appear by telephone link
  • Chief Justice has clarified that the prohibition on public gatherings of more than 2 people does not apply to Courts and Tribunals, as they are essential services. However, Courts have taken measures to limit the number of people, observe social distancing and hygienic practices
  • Any person experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms and has travelled overseas or has been in contact with a confirmed or unconfirmed case of COVID-19, is directed not to enter the Court precincts. Instead, they must ring the Court to request that the hearing be adjourned
  • The Court recommends that only legal practitioners, parties, witnesses and media should attend court hearings. Other members of the public are requested not to attend.
  • People in the court building must comply with safe hygiene rules including hand washing, 1.5m social distancing, and hygienic approach to coughing / sneezing and disposal of tissues
  • Registry will remain open, but all parties are strongly encouraged to lodge documents electronically using the Court’s Electronic Document Management System (“EDMS”).
  • Where possible, documents should not be handed up to the judicial officer. Documents should be submitted electronically
  • At the discretion of judicial officers, hearings other than trials may be conducted by telephone.
  • Parties may reach an agreement whereby the accused is not required to attend court. 
  • Trials will continue as listed
     

WASAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • Chief Justice has clarified that the prohibition on public gatherings of more than 2 people does not apply to Courts and Tribunals, as they are essential services. However, Courts have taken measures to limit the number of people, observe social distancing and hygienic practices
  • WASAT continuing to operate
  • Hearings and mediations will be conducted by telephone or AV link. Only in exceptional circumstances will face-to-face hearings occur
  • All persons instructed not to enter tribunal premises if they are unwell, have recently returned from overseas or been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • Documents to be lodged by email, post or fax and not in person
  • Priority will be given to Guardianship and Administration Applications or matters deemed urgent by Judges or Senior Members
  • Mediations and hearings deemed non-urgent will be vacated until a future date

Tasmania 

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • Matters may be heard via AV link or telephone 
  • Judges of the Criminal Court of Appeal or Full Court need not sit in together in one place nor in the courtroom
  • Sentences may be delivered via AV link
  • Criminal Registry – those on bail must still turn up to Court. Any cases listed under ‘Bail For Consent’ have been adjourned to a different date
  • As much as possible, cases will be heard via telephone or AV link
  • Bail applications to be made via email. Defendants in custody will not be brought to Court, unless otherwise directed by a judge
  • Judges will continue to hear guilty pleas. Including those in custody and on bail. Arrangements will be made on a case-by-case basis
  • Otherwise steps will be taken to identify and adjourn as many cases as possible
  • New listings will be communicated via email
  • Judges may conduct directions hearings via telephone
  • Jury trials will not resume until at least 21 July 2020
  • Those in custody will appear via AV link where necessary
  • All filing of documents to be done electronically by email to the court using PDF format
  • Full court appeals will be subject to telephone directions hearings. Parties to consider appearances by AV link and full written submissions 
  • Civil trials to be subject to telephone directions hearings. Parties to consider the use of written witness statements and written submissions, as well as the use of AV link for witness evidence, oral submissions or cross-examination
  • There will be no civil jury trials until further notice
  • Probate Registry remains open and is only accepting documents by mail or Document Exchange
  • No jury trials to commence for at least 4 months
  • Other cases including guilty pleas, bail matters, appeals, pre-recording of evidence and civil cases to proceed, with steps take to avoid the need for people to come to court and protect against risk of infection when at court

Magistrates Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • Lawyers are reminded that if they wish to appear before the court by telephone or Zoom they should complete the audio/audio visual request form, available on the Court’s website two days before the appearance
  • The Court will continue to sit in both Burnie and Devonport
    • From Monday 4 May 2020 the Burnie Magistrates Court, will be open to the public.
    • People with matters listed before the Court may still appear by audio or AV link, subject to any direction of the Magistrate
  • Proceedings in the Magistrates Court may be via any form of audio or AV link, and at times may not be in open court
  • Magistrates will preside over after hours courts at weekends, starting on Saturday 18 April 2020. Two magistrates will sit each weekend day
  • Weekend after hours courts will be held by AV link
  • Parties (including defendants in custody) may appear by telephone or AV link. Parties must provide contact details at least 2 days before hearing date
  • Some matters may be adjourned until after 1 July 2020
  • Priority will be given to hearings where defendants are in custody
  • Lodgement of documents to be done by email to relevant registry
  • Bail applications and variations may be heard by telephone or AV link, or emailed to relevant registry (for non oral applications)
  • Family Violence Order applications, Court Mandated Diversion, Mental Health List and Contest Mention Lists to continue via telephone or AV link
  • Youth Justice and Child Protection to continue via telephone or AV link. Priority given to matters where young person is in custody 
  • Traffic not guilty hearings and Commonwealth matters are suspended. Defendants will be advised or a new date
  • Restricted Licence applications that have been listed will be adjourned until after 1 July 2020
  • Civil Court Listings to be conducted by telephone or AV link 
  • Any urgent matters must be accompanied by a note setting out why it is urgent 
  • Directions Hearings, Mediations and Conciliation Conferences to be conducted by telephone or AV link. Registry will contact parties to arrange this
  • Civil Hearings and Interlocutory applications etc. to be adjourned to a date to be determined by registry

ACT 

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

Practice Direction 2 of 2020 Special Arrangements in response to COVID 19 

  • This Practice Direction replaces practice direction 1 of 2020 dated 28 May 2020 and applies until further notice.
  • All persons entering the courthouse must observe social distancing (1.5 m) and hygiene practices (frequent hand washing/sanitising)
  • If a person is excluded from the courthouse but has also been required to attend Court by compulsory process (e.g. on bail, in response to a subpoena or summons), the person must not attend and must contact the Registry
  • Documents are to be filed only by the e-lodgement portal (where available for civil matters only) or at the public counter at the courthouse
    • Documents are no longer to be lodged by email unless leave is granted by the Registrar
  • In relation to service, if a person is required under the CPR to personally serve the document and for reasons related to the COVID 19 emergency the document cannot be served personally the party must file an affidavit supporting substituted service
  • Persons on bail
    • Persons on bail should attend court only for substantive hearings. If bail conditions require attendance other than for substantive hearings, the practitioner should seek the DPP’s consent to the person’s nonattendance and notify the Court
    • Applications for bail or bail variations, where the parties’ consent to the proposed orders, will be attended to in Chambers
  • All civil mediations and Criminal Case Conferencing will proceed as usual
  • Unless otherwise ordered, the following will be conducted in person: 
    • Appeals from the Magistrates Court 
    • The Registrar and Deputy Registrar’s lists
    • All pre-trial criminal applications and civil applications heard by a Judge or Associate Judge
  • Jury trials have recommenced as at 15 June 2020, but will be limited by the ability to ensure a safe environment
  • Civil hearings will continue as listed
  • Unless otherwise advised by the Court, a sentencing hearing will be conducted in person (or by video link)
  • Court of Appeal:
    • Legal representatives and litigants in person may address the Court from the bar table or remotely. 
    • The default position is that submissions made remotely will be by telephone over a ‘land line’. 
    • Audio visual appearances will only occur if the Court is satisfied the connection is reliable
  • Subpoena viewing is by appointment only
  • In probate matters, caveat searches will continue to be undertaken by email

Magistrates' Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

New Practice Direction takes effect from 14 September 2020.

  • The Practice Direction issued on 2 June 2020 is revoked.
  • The court has resumed its usual business with all hearings in person unless otherwise ordered.
  • Physical distancing requirements and increased hygiene standards will continue to apply to all matters heard in the Magistrates and Childrens Court.
  • Parties who wish to apply to be heard other than in person will need to seek and obtain leave of the Court 
  • Applications for bail and mentions of matters for people in custody will be considered with legal representatives in person and defendants appearing by AV link or telephone
  • Unless otherwise ordered the following civil lists will recommence in person:
    • Return of subpoenas list;
    • Family Violence and Protection Order interim applications; and
    • Court ordered mediations.
  • Unless a contrary direction is given, only those with a direct interest in the proceeding will be allowed in the designated court room.
  • Parties for any matter must not enter the room until invited to do so after the preceding matter is completed
  • Documents can be filed via:
    • eLodgement (where available for civil matters only) and over the counter
    • Documents will no longer be accepted via email (except Childrens Court) or by leaving a hard copy in a sealed envelope in the post box
    • Childrens Court matters may continue to be filed via email.
  • Any party may apply for special arrangements in light of the current COVID-19 emergency, such as a health vulnerability or travel limitation
  • Criminal case conferencing will remain on hold until resumption of court business in January 2021.

Coroners Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • New Practice Direction taking effect from 6 April 2020
  • Critical functions of the court will continue, these are:
    • Receipt of death notifications, decisions and directions in relation to post-mortem examinations
    • Decisions in relation to release certificates and release of bodies of deceased persons after necessary examinations are complete
    • Essential investigative paperwork
    • Essential correspondence
    • File closure of non-complex cases
  • All other work of the Court will be conducted subject to resourcing limitations
  • No new matters will be listed for hearing before 1 July 2020
  • The continuation of already listed hearings is at the discretion of the presiding Coroner. Consideration shall be given to appearances by parties by AV Link or telephone
  • Interested parties may apply to the court for the listing of urgent matters. This is to be done via email and will be decided in chambers. Outcomes will be delivered by email or telephone
  • Filing of documents is to be done via email
  • Inspection of subpoenaed material and registry files will be permitted only in exceptional circumstances

ACAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • ACAT counter is closed
  • No face-to-face hearings will occur
  • Current listings will continue unless otherwise specified for conferences, mediations, directions hearings, return of subpoenas, interim hearings and hearings 
  • These listings will be via telephone or AV link
  • New listings will continue for: 
    • urgent applications 
    • mental health applications
    • guardianship and management of property applications
    • energy and water hardship applications
    • some residential tenancy applications
    • urgent or essential directions hearings 
    • some applications in the Registrar’s list 
    • some other matters with approval of Case Managing Member or the Registrar
  • Otherwise, there will be no new listings before October 2020
  • If you need to inspect documents or subpoenaed material contact the Tribunal to organise this
  • Most civil dispute applications received after 2 April will be scheduled for an initial directions hearing in October 2020 (or later)
  • Documents can be lodged by post, in a letterbox at the Tribunal or via email
  • Some matters may be heard on papers only
  • Instruction to people to stay home if they are unwell, have recently been overseas, have COVID-19 or have been in close contact with a confirmed case. Such people must ask to attend by telephone or ask for an adjournment
  • Water not provided in hearing rooms 
  • Applications continue to be lodged in the usual way. But those who are unwell may ask for options to lodge by email or by online form.
  • Parties may ask for hearings to be conducted on the papers

Northern Territory 

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • The Supreme Court will resume the conduct of jury trials from Monday, 22 June 2020
    Any difficulties with witnesses subject to travel restrictions in will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis at pre-trial hearings
  • Persons in custody will continue to appear by AV link except at trial. A party who wishes the accused to appear in person may submit a brief outline by email to the Presiding Judge’s Associate
  • Pre-trial hearings, mentions and directions hearings will revert to face-to-face hearing from Monday, 1 June 2020. A party who wishes the matter to proceed by AV link or telephone rather than face-to-face may submit a brief application by email to the Presiding Judge’s Associate
  • Registries will re-open on 15 June
  • The Temporary Practice Direction for electronic filing of lodgement in criminal matters will continue with amendments to give practitioners the option of filing or lodging in that form.
  • The Temporary Practice Direction providing for electronic filing in civil matters will continue until the commencement of electronic filing under Odyssey (currently scheduled for October 2020)
  • Admission ceremony scheduled to be held in the Supreme Court on 5 May 2020 has been cancelled
  • Applications for admission will continue to be processed and heard separately before a single Judge
  • From Wednesday, 1 April 2020 the public facing counters in Alice Springs, Supreme Court Civil Registry and Sheriff’s Office will be closed. Registry will continue to provide services via telephone and email
  • All new jury trials until 5 June 2020 are suspended. Current jury trials where a jury has already been empanelled will continue
  • Any matters that do not require empanelment of a jury will continue as listed
  • Registry will contact parties in relation to suspended trials to organise pre-trial hearings, mentions and directions hearings
  • Where possible, these hearings will be conducted by telephone or AV link
  • People advised not to enter court if they meet screening criteria for COVID-19
  • Judge’s Associate will contact parties one week prior to listing to advise of AV link or telephone hearing details 
  • In criminal matters, accused is excused from attending if represented
  • Parties wishing to proceed face-to-face to email Judge’s Associate explaining reasons for that position, and judge will decide whether counsel should appear in person
  • Associate Judges lists to be conducted by telephone (excluding criminal callover)

Local Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • From 1 July the Local Court will again hold proceedings in the Circuit (Bush) Courts, subject to the cancellation of Biosecurity Act restrictions
  • From 18 May physical court appearances will resume with court cells reopening for some matters in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs. Physical distancing rules apply
  • Court Registrar and front counter services will resume
  • Tennant Creek Local Court is due to resume operations on 1 June
  • From 1 July non-custody hearings will recommence and courts will run proceedings in Circuit Courts 
  • Some changes made in recent weeks will remain, including e-filing of documents and the hearing of bail applications on country. Consent applications will be heard in Chambers
  • Non-custodial hearings will be vacated and listed for Case Management Inquiry (CMI)
  • The rescheduling only affects non-contested matters where nobody is in custody awaiting a court hearing
  • In Darwin April Hearings are vacated and listed for CMI on 22 June, 2020. May hearings are vacated and listed for CMI on 23 June. June Hearings are vacated and listed for CMI on 24 June
  • In Katherine non-custody contested hearings in April and May are vacated and listed for CMI on June 22, 2020
  • Similar arrangements are being made for matters in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek
  • All existing bail conditions and interim domestic violence orders are continued
  • Changes to court processes have been translated into various Aboriginal languages, which can be accessed via Court website
  • All circuit court services suspended. Planned to resume on 1 May 2020 
  • Remandees from remote areas will be held in local communities rather than transported to major centres. Will then appear by telephone or AV link
  • Those currently on remand will be dealt with in major court centres, with witnesses appearing by AV link or telephone
  • E-filing and appearances by telephone and AV link fast tracked
  • Mentions and pre-trial hearings to be held by AV link where possible

Children's Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

  • All youths in detention will appear via AV link or telephone
  • Represented youths need not attend court unless matter is being finalised 
  • Responsible adults may appear via AV link or telephone

NTCAT & MHRT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

  • From Monday, 15 June 2020, this notice replaces all previous COVID-19 notices issued by NTCAT:
  • Listings and other tribunal processes that were cancelled or deferred in response to the pandemic have now been restored
  • NTCAT will continue to conduct itself according to requirements imposed by the Northern Territory and Commonwealth Governments and will expect parties to tribunal matters to do the same
  • Parties are expected to attend in person at the tribunal for listings (hearings and compulsory conferences)
  • A party wishing to participate by remote means will need to make an application for NTCAT’s permission to do so
  • NTCAT’s strong preference is that remote participation (if permitted) is by means of on-line videoconferencing using the WebEx application
  • NTCAT will once again accept hard copy documents at its registries and at hearings. However, the tribunal’s strong preference is that parties submit and exchange documents electronically