Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

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. This page is frequently updated to keep up with changing restriction levels, however users are encouraged to visit each jurisdiction's websites for the most up to date information on their practices.

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 

Vaccination in courts - Message from the Chief Justice, 8 October 2021

The following update is from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria and Chair of Courts Council, Anne Ferguson, on behalf of the Victorian courts and VCAT. 

  • Directions made under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 in relation to the vaccination of authorised workers do not extend to judicial officers and court and tribunal staff. 
  • Subject to a consultation process with staff, Court Services Victoria, as the employer of court staff, is considering measures that will require staff who attend onsite to be vaccinated on the same basis as other authorised workers in Victoria.
  • Each jurisdiction will continue to minimise the number of people physically attending their premises by conducting a large proportion of matters as remote hearings.
  • When the lockdown lifts the courts and VCAT will continue to operate through a mixture of remote and in person hearings.
  • The courts and VCAT encourage all those attending their locations to be vaccinated. 
  • The courts and VCAT have a range of public health measures in place across all their premises. Further measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 will be explored as they become available. 

The 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.

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

Supreme Court

annoucnment Latest announcement 

Operational Update – November Easing of Restrictions, 1 December 2021

  • The Court is gradually adjusting its operations in line with the removal of a number of COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Criminal jury trials have resumed as a priority.
  • Courtroom arrangements have returned to normal and the number of trials able to be run concurrently has increased.
  • It is no longer necessary to make applications for in-person hearings in any matter before the Court. 
  • The Court will operate on a series of default positions and exceptions set out in the ‘notice to the profession’ below.
  • COVID-Safety measures are in place across all buildings.
  • Public entrances are open.
  • QR check-in remains in place at each building’s security screening area. 
  • Face masks are required to be worn in all publicly accessible areas and jury facilities, subject to exemptions.
  • All those attending Court locations are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated. 
  • If you are feeling unwell, have symptoms of COVID-19 however mild, or are required to isolate, do not attend the Court and notify the Registry by telephone. 
  • The Registry and Probate Office remain operational and encourage appointments for those needing to attend in person. Please telephone to discuss alternatives to in-person attendance or to make an appointment. 

Notice to the Profession – In-Person Hearings, 1 December 2021

The Chief Justice has authorised the issue of the following Notice, which replaces the Notice issued on 26 October 2021. 

  • It is no longer necessary to make application for in-person hearings in any matter before the Court. 
  • The Court will operate on a series of default positions and exceptions set out below. 
  • Where a matter is to proceed in person in the Common Law Division or Commercial Court, parties are requested to submit an in-person hearing form to assist the allocation of courtrooms. 
  • The Court will maintain remote hearings in certain hearing types and other appropriate circumstances for efficiency. 
  • Remote appearances and hybrid hearings (some participants in court and some remote) will be retained to maintain flexibility for individuals and to support the continuing COVID-19 measure of ensuring anyone with symptoms does not attend court buildings.
  • The Court’s overall courtroom capacity remains constrained as a result of the closure of the 436 Lonsdale Street building. 
  • If the number of proposed in-person hearings exceeds the number of courtrooms available for a given day, some matters may revert to remote hearings.
  • The Court has contingency plans for the continuation of as much court business as possible in the event of a future outbreak leading to the reimposition of restrictions. 
  • Parties are encouraged to maintain their own contingency arrangements around remote working and remote hearings should matters need to revert at short notice.

Court of Appeal 

  • In-person hearings will be the default position for all substantive hearings.
  • In all case management hearings, directions hearings and mentions, the default position will be for remote hearings. 
  • The default position may be departed from if circumstances arise which would warrant departure. A request to depart from the default position should be emailed to the Registrar copied to all parties. 
  • The Registrar will advise parties if circumstances in the Court require a departure from the default position (e.g. if a judge is experiencing a cough or cold or an urgent matter is to be brought sooner via remote hearing).
  • The Court will confirm arrangements for the hearing with all parties in advance.
  • The default position is that applicants in custody will not attend court but participate remotely through an audio-visual link.

Criminal Division 

  • In-person hearings will be the default position for substantive hearings such as trials, pleas and sentences. 
  • Substantive applications such as bail applications, CMI and serious offender applications will generally proceed as in-person hearings, subject to the discretion of the judge.
  • In case management and other procedural hearings, remote or hybrid hearings will generally be used.
  • Covert applications will be determined on the papers, unless there is a particular need for an in-person hearing. 
  • Chambers will advise parties in advance how a matter is intended to proceed. 
  • In all matters, a party who seeks to appear remotely in a matter otherwise to proceed in person should email the chambers of the presiding judicial officer, copied to all parties. The Court will seek to provide flexibility where possible.
  • Accused persons will be required to attend at trial unless a contrary direction is made by the Court. 
  • In all matters the Court will determine whether to make a direction for an in person appearance.
  • The ordinary processes will apply where a party seeks to have a witness give evidence remotely in an otherwise in person hearing. 

Common Law Division and Commercial Court

  • In-person hearings will be the default position for witness trials and dependent on courtroom availability for final hearings that do not involve oral evidence. 
  • When courtrooms are not available, remote hearings will be offered.
  • The Court will advise the proposed mode of hearing for substantial interlocutory applications. 
  • The Court can be flexible to accommodate other options such as hybrid hearings in appropriate cases.
  • Remote hearings will be the default position in case management hearings and Practice Court and Duty Judge matters. 
  • The Court will advise parties in advance if the default position will not apply.
  • A party who seeks to appear remotely in a hearing that is otherwise to proceed in person should make that request of the chambers of the presiding judicial officer at the earliest opportunity copied to all parties briefly stating the reason for the request. The Court will be flexible where possible.
  • The ordinary processes will apply where a party seek to have a witness give evidence remotely in an otherwise in person hearing.
  • Delivery of judgments may occur in person, by remote hearing or by email. The need for submissions on final orders will be a factor in the mode chosen. 

Costs Court

  • Remote hearings and mediations will continue as the default position in relation to matters in the Costs Court. 
  • If an in-person hearing is sought, an email should be sent to the Costs Court copying all parties, briefly stating the reason for the request.

Judicial Mediations

  • Judicial mediations will continue virtually for the immediate term until physical mediation suites are re-established. 

County Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Melbourne criminal jury trials, 24 November 2021

  • The pre-COVID criminal jury trial process will be adopted in so far as possible, but with the necessary COVID-safe overlays below.
  • The pre-COVID criminal jury trial process means:
    • The Court will use in-person jury pools.
    • The jury panel will be brought up to the trial courtroom and empanelment will take place in-person in the trial courtroom. 
    • There will be no remote empanelment from the jury pool room.
    • Each courtroom’s adjoining jury room will be used by the jury during adjournments and deliberation and a paired courtroom will not be required. 
  • As an additional measure of safety, the Court has implemented a “Jury trial vaccination protocol” and “Personal protective equipment (PPE), movement and testing protocol” which will apply to all criminal jury trials unless otherwise advised by the Court.
  • All participants in a jury trial will be advised and reminded of the health and safety obligations they have to one another. 
  • Legal practitioners, on behalf of each party, must advise the Court if they are aware any trial participant feels unwell or has symptoms of COVID-19, are awaiting test results or are required to isolate. 
  • Parties should contact the chambers of the presiding judge if a trial participant is unable to attend. The judge will decide the future conduct of the matter, including alternative remote appearance arrangements or adjournments. 

Juries Victoria measures

  • Jurors will be asked to check the Juries Victoria website for information about precautionary measures and guidelines for their attendance.
  • Jurors must not attend court if they have symptoms of COVID-19, are awaiting test results or are required to isolate. 
  • Juries Victoria will give greater consideration to excusing or deferring persons who may be particularly vulnerable to the consequences of COVID-19.
  • The Juries Commissioner may exempt a person or class of persons from being summonsed for jury service if, in the Commissioner’s opinion, there is good cause to do so based on health, safety or welfare concerns relating to the person, that class of persons or the community.
  • The Juries Commissioner has exempted the following class of persons from being summonsed for the period 26 November 2021 to 11 February 2022:
    • Persons who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, except for those with valid medical exemptions;
    • Persons who fail or refuse to provide evidence of being fully vaccinated or evidence of medical exemption. 
  • If a person, or class of persons, has a medical exemption from vaccination, the Juries Commissioner may provide that person with an opportunity to serve, defer their service or be excused or exempted from jury service.

Jury pool

  • Up to 150 jurors may be assembled in-person in the jury pool room to provide jury panels.
  • As the Court reverts back to jury pools and in-person jury panels, the Court will monitor jury pool sizes, the number of empanelments that can occur on any one day and the time at which empanelment can proceed (that is, when a jury panel seated in the trial courtroom is ready for empanelment).

Masks

  • There are four settings in relation to the Court’s requirement for trial participants to wear masks:
    • Mask setting 1 – mask-wearing by all trial participants is required
    • Mask setting 2 – mask-wearing by non-speaking participants is required 
    • Mask setting 3 – mask-wearing is not required for trial participants save for limited circumstances (empanelment)
    • Mask setting 4 – mask-wearing is not required for trial participants but may be worn voluntarily.
  • The appropriate setting will be determined by health advice, and the Court will public advice on an ongoing basis as to the setting that is currently in effect. 

Circuit criminal jury trials, 24 November 2021

  • Consistent with the Court’s exemption from density quotients and physical distancing for jury trials, the pre-COVID criminal jury trial process will be adopted in so far as possible, but with the necessary modification and COVID-safe overlays below.
  • Necessary modifications include:
    • The empanelment process will be conducted semi-remotely, using videolinks between the jury pool room and trial courtroom
    • The taking of excuses
    • The juror parade will be conducted in-person in the trial courtroom. 
    • Disposable masks will be available to all court users and those attending for jury service. 
    • The Court has developed an expedited testing protocol which will allow the testing of any trial participant, and the receipt of results within 24 hours. 

Jury Empanelment

  • Until further notice, extended jury boxes will remain in those circuit courtrooms that had their jury boxes extended to facilitate physical distancing.
  • Due to the removal of courtroom public seating, jury empanelments will be conducted semi-remotely via videolink between the jury pool room and the trial courtroom.

Jury Trial Vaccination Protocol, 25 November 2021

  • This protocol commences on 25 November 2021 and will expire on 31 January 2022 unless extended or revoked.
  • This protocol applies to criminal and civil jury trials in Melbourne and on circuit. 
  • A 'vaccinated person' is a person whose vaccination status is equivalent to that required for a worker under the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions, 7 October 2021. 
  • An ‘unvaccinated person’ is a person who does not meet the requirements under those Directions.

Jury trial mask settings

  • Subject to any additional requirements under this protocol, the default mask setting for jury trials will be mask setting 2 – that is, all non-speakers (including jurors) will be required to wear surgical face masks at all times.

Legal practitioners

  • The Court’s expectation is that only legal practitioners who are vaccinated persons will appear in jury trials.  
  • There may be exceptions – for example, where the interests of justice demand that a trial is of such urgency that it cannot be adjourned and where that particular (unvaccinated) counsel must be retained.
  • The presiding judge and the Chief Judge must approve any such request. 
  • If approved, the following PPE/testing conditions would apply: 
    • The practitioner in question would be required to demonstrate a COVID negative PCR test result received within 72 hours before the first trial date.  
    • The practitioner would then be required to undergo PCR testing thereafter every Tuesday and Friday of each week of the trial. 
    • Counsel would be required to wear a surgical face mask throughout the trial (including when speaking).
  • Solicitors on the record will be contacted by judicial staff in advance of the listed hearing date to ascertain the vaccination status of legal practitioners, the accused (if applicable) and other court users associated with that party.

Accused persons

  • Accused who are unvaccinated persons will still be permitted to attend their trials in person.  
  • There are, however, a number of factors which mitigate the risk posed by an unvaccinated accused person:
    • Accused persons sit at the back of the courtroom, where physical distance from the jurors and other trial participants can be maintained and supervised.
    • Their movement around the courtroom can be confined.
    • They generally do not play a speaking role, unless giving evidence.
    • Any unvaccinated accused person must comply with any direction given regarding PPE, which will likely involve a KN95 face mask. 

Witnesses and accused persons giving evidence

  • The giving of evidence in person by witnesses and accused who are unvaccinated persons will be minimised. 
  • The Court will work with the parties to ensure that suitable remote witness arrangements are made.
  • Should unvaccinated persons give evidence in person by exception (or remotely from within the Court building), they must comply with any direction given regarding PPE.

All other court users

  • The Court’s expectation is that all other court users who attend in person will be vaccinated persons. 
  • The Court will endeavour to accommodate the remote attendance of unvaccinated persons who have an interest in observing a hearing.

Remote Hearing and Vaccination Protocol, 27 October 2021

  • The Court has developed the Remote Hearing and Vaccination Protocol to communicate the operations of the Court during the transition period while the State progressively opens up to the vaccinated population following the State Government’s Roadmap.
  • This protocol will commence on 1 November 2021 and will expire on 31 January 2022 unless extended or revoked. 
  • During this transition period, the Court will endeavour to provide a range of options for the manner in which a matter may be heard, taking into account the vaccination status of legal practitioners and other Court users.
  • This protocol applies to the Court in Melbourne. The procedures adopted in the regions will be developed in consultation with all relevant stakeholders. In the meantime, those procedures will be subject to direction from the presiding judicial officer.
  • This protocol does not relate to the circumstances in which jury trials will resume at Melbourne. 

Remote hearings

  • Subject to the exceptions below, all trials and other hearings listed in Melbourne will continue to proceed as remote hearings until 80% of the population is fully vaccinated, anticipated to be on or around 5 November 2021. 
  • It is expected that the Court will then permit an increased number of in person hearings, at the discretion of the judicial officer conducting a pre-trial directions or other hearing, determined on a case by case basis. 
  • Revised procedures for in-person attendance will be notified in advance of that date. These are likely to include directions requiring parties to disclose the vaccination status of proposed hearing participants.
  • However, the Court’s position in relation to the requirements for onsite attendance will be unaffected by the phases of the Roadmap. 

Criminal Division 

  • At least until 8 November 2021, Criminal Division matters listed in Melbourne will proceed as remote hearings unless the Chief Judge approves in-court attendance for the following matters:
    • Judge alone trials;
    • Plea hearings and sentences;
    • Conviction appeals involving contested evidence; and
    • Any matter involving the liberty of the accused.
  • If a party considers it is necessary and in the interests of justice for a matter to proceed in person, that party must, as soon as possible, provide notice of that request to the chambers of the presiding judicial officer.

Common Law and Commercial Divisions

  • At least until 8 November 2021, if a party considers that it is necessary and in the interests of justice for the matter to proceed in person, that party must, as soon as possible, give notice of that request to the Court and the other parties and must provide brief submissions detailing the reasons that the matter is not suitable for remote hearing. Each other party may file and service brief submissions in response.
  • Determination of the issue will be made by the Head of Division in chambers on the basis of the written submissions and subject to securing the approval of the Chief Judge for any in person attendance. 

Vaccination Status 

  • The Court acts upon the basis that vaccination is the best means of protection from serious illness or death if a person becomes infected with COVID-19, and vaccination also reduces the risk of both transmission and infection of COVID-19.
  • Consistent with the above:
    • All court staff who attend onsite at the Court will be vaccinated on the same basis as other authorised workers covered by the Chief Health Officer’s COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions (No 3) (‘Directions’)
    • Staff of third party contractors attending onsite (such as security and IT staff) will likewise be vaccinated on the same basis;
    • All judicial officers of the Court have voluntarily disclosed to the Chief Judge that they are fully vaccinated. 
  • Legal practitioners – the Court considers that legal practitioners, as officers of the Court, enter into the Court to conduct their work, and that the Court building is an integral part of their workplace. The Court assumes that legal practitioners will take all reasonable steps to assist the Court to provide as safe a workplace as possible. 
  • Non-professional court users – are generally not attending their workplace, and the Court’s capacity to regulate their behaviour through professional arrangements and practices is more limited.

Attendance onsite or alternative arrangements

  • To provide an environment that is as safe as possible for those who attend onsite at the court, this protocol provides for a range of options for appearances:
    • If approval has been given for a hearing to proceed wholly or partly in person, the Court expects that all legal practitioners wishing to attend onsite will disclose their vaccination status in advance of any trial or hearing and meeting the Court’s vaccination requirements, subject to alternative arrangements below.
    • While other hearing participants are not obliged to be fully or partially vaccinated to attend onsite, the parties should expect that the Court will make directions concerning the management of any hearing participant who is either unvaccinated or refuses to disclose their vaccination status;
    • Those directions may include requiring them to appear remotely, wearing additional/appropriate personal protective equipment (‘PPE’), and other additional control measures;
    • Subject to such directions and the PPE and Movement Protocol below, after 1 November 2021 hearing participants with a speaking role will not be required to wear masks during a hearing while speaking, but should wear a mask at all other times.

Email to the Court as to vaccination status

  • If approval has been given for a hearing to proceed wholly or partly in person, parties must confirm the vaccination status of each participant that is proposed to attend onsite at the Court for the hearing.
  • As soon as practicable and, in any event, by no later than 4.00pm on the day before a hearing participant is expected to attend onsite at the Court, the solicitor with conduct of the matter on behalf of each party (or the party themselves if they are self-represented), must email the presiding judicial officer’s chambers advising of the vaccination status of all such hearing participants and the manner in which each hearing participant is expected to establish their vaccination status upon arrival at the Court.
  • An email which solely discloses the vaccination status of hearing participants need not be copied to other parties. 
  • If any hearing participant is unwilling or unable to disclose their vaccination status to the solicitor or party for the purposes of the email sent in accordance with this protocol, the vaccination status of that hearing participant should be stated as: “unwilling or unable to disclose vaccination status – unvaccinated”.
  • If there is any change to counsel appearing, instructing solicitors or other hearing participants during an in-person hearing, the solicitor with the conduct of the matter (or the party themselves if they are self-represented), must provide updated details of such additional person’s vaccination status by 4.00pm on the day before their attendance at Court.
  • Any information concerning vaccination status supplied to the Court under this protocol will be kept confidential to the presiding judge and his or her staff and, unless the presiding judicial officer otherwise orders, will be deleted or destroyed at the conclusion of the hearing. 

Attendance onsite at the Court – Legal practitioners

  • Subject to the alternative arrangements or options below, the Court’s expectation is that all legal practitioners wishing to attend onsite will have a vaccination status equivalent to a required worker under the Directions.
  • Upon arrival at the Court, the following procedures will apply to legal practitioners before proceeding through the express check-in line:
    • Regardless of vaccination status, all legal practitioners are expected to check in using the County Court’s QR code and the Services Victoria application;
    • Those who are fully vaccinated and have their vaccination certificate uploaded to their Services Victoria application may then show their vaccination certificate to security staff;
    • Those who are fully vaccinated but do not have their vaccination certificate uploaded to their Services Victoria application, must proceed to the designated counter and produce a valid certificate or other evidence of their vaccination status satisfactory to the security officer;
    • In the period up to 26 November 2021, those who are partially vaccinated must proceed to the designated counter and produce evidence of the partial vaccination;
    • Those who are excepted persons must proceed to the designated counter and produce evidence of their excepted person status.
  • Any legal practitioner who does not meet the Court’s vaccination requirements as set out in this protocol may be afforded the following options, subject to the discretion of the presiding judicial officer:
    • They appear at the hearing remotely by video link;
    • If the legal practitioner has undergone a COVID-19 test and agrees to comply with the PPE and Movement Protocol, that legal practitioner may be permitted to attend the hearing in person;
    • In exceptional circumstances (such as where the legal practitioner is appearing for an accused person and the presiding judicial officer is satisfied that there is no reasonable alternative course open) and the legal practitioner agrees to comply with the PPE and Movement Protocol, that legal practitioner may be permitted to attend the hearing in person.
  • If the presiding judicial officer considers that none of the options listed above is appropriate, they may make orders or directions for the future conduct of the proceeding including, for example, an order that the hearing should proceed with all parties appearing remotely or an order that a hearing be adjourned to enable the affected party to retain a legal practitioner who meets the Court’s vaccination requirements.

Attendance onsite at Court – other court users 

  • Upon arrival at the Court and before proceeding through the security check-in, the following procedures will apply to any person attending onsite at the Court who is not a legal practitioner before proceeding through the security check-in:
    • those who are fully vaccinated and who have their vaccination certificate uploaded to their QR code check-in application with Services Victoria, must check in using the County Court’s QR code and the Services Victoria application and may then show their vaccination certificate to security staff;
    • those who are fully vaccinated but do not have their vaccination certificate uploaded to their Services Victoria application, must proceed to the designated counter and produce a valid vaccination certificate or other evidence of their vaccination status satisfactory to the security officer;
    • those who are partially vaccinated must proceed to the designated counter and produce evidence of partial vaccination satisfactory to the security officer; and
    • those who are unvaccinated hearing participants must proceed to the designated counter for further instructions.
  • Subject to the overriding discretion of the presiding judicial officer and the interests of justice, the instructions to be given to an unvaccinated hearing participant may include:
    • that they appear at the hearing remotely by video link; or
    • that they comply with the PPE and Movement Protocol.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Movement and Testing Protocol

  • This protocol should be read in conjunction with the Court’s Remote Hearing and Vaccination Protocol issued on 27 October 2021. 
  • This protocol will commence on 1 November 2021 and will expire on 31 January 2021, unless extended or revoked. 
  • This protocol applies to any court user who is seeking to attend in person for a court hearing at the Court building, with the approval of the presiding judge and:
    • Advises the court they have not received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination on or before 22 October 2021 and a second dose on or before 26 November 2021;
    • Is unable to establish their vaccination status in the manner contemplated in the Court’s Remote Hearing and Vaccination Protocol; or 
    • Declines to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status to the Court,
  • Collectively, ‘PPE Directed Persons’. 
  • In this protocol, PPE refers to any measure used to minimise the risk of the spread of COVID-19 infection. It will include the wearing of a KN95 mask by a PPE Directed Person, and may include wearing a face shield if the PPE Directed Person is required to give evidence without a mask. 

Wearing of PPE by PPE Directed Persons

  • In the interests of minimising the risk of COVID-19 infection, unvaccinated court users and those who have been unable to establish their vaccination status in the manner contemplated in the Court’s Remote Hearing and Vaccination Protocol will be referred to a designated area adjacent to the Court’s entry foyer in which they will be provided with PPE and instructions on how to wear it.
  • PPE Directed Persons are required to wear the PPE at all times while in public areas of the building as well as the Court’s Registry and may be required to continue to wear it within a courtroom at the discretion of the presiding judicial officer.
  • If a PPE Directed Person refuses to wear the relevant PPE, they will be denied access to the Court building.

Movement at the Court facility by PPE Directed Persons

  • In the interests of minimising the risk of the spread of COVID-19, the Court will limit the movement of PPE Directed Persons around the Court building.
  • PPE Directed Persons will be escorted by a Court representative while they are in the Court building to the relevant courtroom.
  • The movement of PPE Directed Persons will be limited to designated areas including amenities, waiting areas, courtrooms and remote witness facilities in the building.

Testing

  • Testing is not currently required to enter the Court building. This protocol will be reviewed and amended to reflect any developments in the approved use and availability of testing options.

Criminal Division

From Monday 8 November 2021, subject to the discretion of the presiding judicial officer, the following types of hearings will continue to be heard remotely (including remote appearance by legal practitioners, the accused, complainant or victim and witnesses):

  • All procedural and transactional hearings such as mentions, directions hearings and other List hearings
  • Matters listed for one day or less
  • County Koori Court sentencing conversations will continue with the remote/hybrid model.

From Monday 8 November 2021, subject to the discretion of the presiding judicial officer, the following types of hearings may be heard in-person (including in-person attendance by legal practitioners and the accused):

  • Multi-day matters
  • Matters involving an accused moving from the community into custody
  • Complex matters of any length
  • CMIA or sexual offence case special hearings
  • Drug Court hearings

In accordance with the Remote Hearing and Vaccination Protocol, the parties will be required to confirm the vaccination status of each participant that is to attend onsite at the Court for the hearing. 

Parties should familiarise themselves with the Remote Hearing and Vaccination Protocol and the PPE, Movement and Testing Protocol

Common Law Division

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.

Directions hearings

  • Directions hearings will continue to be conducted via videolink (Zoom) unless the presiding judicial officer requires onsite appearances. 
  • The parties will be sent a link to attend the directions hearing at an allocated time, as close as possible to the time indicated in the Court’s directions hearing notice. 

In-person hearings

  • From Monday 8 November 2021, the following proceedings listed in Melbourne are able to be heard in court, subject to the discretion of the trial judge:
    • All trials with an estimate of more than 2 days;
    • Any trial or other hearing where a party is self-represented;
    • Where a party to the proceeding requires an interpreter to give their evidence, the Court may grant leave for that party and the interpreter to give evidence/interpret in person if remote arrangements cannot be made. 
  • In accordance with the Remote Hearing and Vaccination Protocol, the parties will be required to confirm the vaccination status of each participant that is to attend onsite at the Court for the hearing. 

Remote Hearings

  • The following proceedings will continue to be heard as a remote virtual hearing: 
    • Serious injury applications
    • Trial assessments or causes with an estimate of under 2 days
    • Family Violence Protection and Personal Safety Intervention Order appeals, Department of Health and Human Services Appeals and Supervision Order appeals
    • Directions hearings
    • Summons
    • Mediations, judicial resolution and case conferences
    • Confiscation List matters
    • Section 85B Compensation Applications. 
       
  • The expectations for remote hearings are as follows:
    • Device capability: the Court recommends that all participants use a smart device no smaller than an iPad (11”), from a location that has reasonable internet speed, and wear a headset to improve audio quality and reduce audio feedback. 
    • Court books: parties must comply with the Common Law Division’s Use of Technology practice note as to the preparation of eCourtbooks
    • Robing: counsel are expected to be robed when appearing at any remote hearing which may be determinative of a matter and when taking judgment. Robes are not required for directions hearings or summons.
    • Virtual background: a practitioner is encouraged to use a neutral background while participating in the remote hearing. Neutral backgrounds are available from the Victorian Bar website or from the Judge’s Associate. 
    • Remote hearing protocol: immediately prior to the hearing, the Judge’s Associate will check with all participants that they are able to see and hear each other, and that they are ready to proceed. 
    • Recording of hearing: a recording of the matter will be made by the Judge’s Associate. If transcript has been arranged, the transcribers in the remote hearing are permitted to record the proceedings. No other participant is permitted to record the remote hearing. 
    • Oral evidence: lay witnesses are expected to give evidence from the offices of the solicitor who arranged the calling of that witness. The solicitor is to ensure that there is a room available for the lay witness to give evidence from, and that room must be free from any other occupants at the time the witness is to give evidence. 
  • Where an interpreter is required, it is not necessary for the interpreter to be in the same room as the witness. An interpreter may appear via video or via telephone in the remote hearing. 
  • Where a party wishes to show surveillance evidence during a remote hearing, counsel will be expected to be capable of screen sharing this evidence from their device. 
  • A view will only be conducted if the presiding judge is satisfied that it is necessary and in the interests of justice to be conducted.

Juries and Circuits

  • From 26 November 2021, the court resumed jury trials in Melbourne.
  • Where a regional court is able to accommodate a civil circuit on site, parties will be informed at the call over of the circuit.
  • Where this is not possible, circuit cases will be heard as remote hearings.
  • The expectations for remote hearings above apply to remote civil circuits.
  • Some regional courts will be able to accommodate jury trials. The party who requested the jury in accordance with the Rules, will be notified in respect of timing for the payment of jury fees. 

Commercial Division

The following arrangements will apply to matters in the Commercial Division from 8 November 2021 until further notice.

Key principles in relation to onsite attendance

  • From 8 November 2021, the Court will permit an increased number of in-person hearings at the discretion of the presiding judicial officer, to be determined on a case by case basis. 
  • Trials with an estimate of 3 days or more will generally be held in-person. 
  • If a party considers that it is appropriate and in the interests of justice for the matter to proceed in person, that party must give notice of that request to the Court and the other parties and must provide brief submissions detailing the reasons the matter is not suitable for remote hearing. 
  • Factors that will be taken into account include:
    • The length of the trial or hearing
    • Whether a party is self-represented
    • Whether a party to the proceeding requires an interpreter to give evidence
    • The vaccination status of necessary participants in the trial or hearing.
  • In accordance with the Remote Hearing and Vaccination Protocol, the parties will be required to confirm the vaccination status of each participant that is to attend onsite at the court for the hearing.
  • The following proceedings will generally continue to be heard remotely, subject to the discretion of the presiding judicial officer:
    • Pre-trial directions hearings
    • Directions hearings
    • Summonses and requests for an interlocutory determination
    • Trial assessments
    • Enforcement proceedings.
  • Practitioners must familiarise themselves with the Remote Hearing and Vaccination Protocol and the PPE, Movement and Testing Protocol.  

Filing of documents

  • Parties are requested to maximise the use of the Court’s electronic filing facilities.
  • Where possible, all subpoenaed material should now be submitted and inspected electronically via eCase.
  • A party wishing to inspect subpoenaed material which has been produced in hardcopy must make an appointment with the Registry.
  • 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.

Interlocutory disputes

  • Where parties would previously have requested a directions hearing, they should now submit a ‘Request for Interlocutory Determination’ form available on the Court’s website to the Commercial Registry and copied to all parties. 
  • The Court will determine whether the dispute can be listed for eHearing, or should be determined on the papers, and will notify the parties accordingly. 
  • Most disputes will be listed for eHearing, unless it is a dispute where reserved written reasons are likely to be required and the parties can be expected to deal with the issues in dispute in writing. 
  • The Division will be receptive to requests to modify its procedures to deal with any specific concerns, including urgent requests resulting from unexpected disruptions from COVID-19.

Applications by summons

  • Applications by summons will continue to be listed for eHearing, however the presiding judicial officer may give leave for an application to be heard in person in the following circumstances:
    • Where a party is self-represented and doesn’t have access to the necessary technology and internet access;
    • Where a party to the proceeding requires an interpreter to give evidence. 
  • Attendance in person is ultimately at the discretion of the presiding judicial officer. 

Building Cases List

  • Applications will be conducted by eHearing or on the papers, as directed by the Judge in charge of the Building Case List in consultation with the parties. 
  • Parties with a listed eHearing will be contacted by the Associates to the Judge in charge and must respond on whether they prefer a determination on the papers or eHearing and why. 

Judicial Resolution Conferences (JRCs)

  • JRCs will be conducted remotely or in person at the discretion of the judicial officer conducting the JRC, having regard to the Remote Hearing and Vaccination Protocol and other factors.
  • The parties will be contacted by the associates one to two weeks before the JRC to discuss what arrangements are appropriate in the circumstances. 

Non-binding Neutral Evaluations (NNEs)

  • Parties with listed trials may be offered a NNE by eHearing in lieu of the trials 
  • NNEs are based on the existing procedure for early neutral evaluations in the Buildings Case List, with the significant difference being that it is anticipated that NNE will be utilised shortly before a listed trial date. 
  • NNEs will be conducted by a judge or judicial registrar and typically will not require more than one day of eHearing. 
  • An information sheet on NNEs is available in the Court’s Practice notes. 

Pre-trial directions hearings, adjournments and judgments 

  • All proceedings will be listed for pre-trial directions hearing remotely via Zoom before a judicial registrar around two weeks before the listed trial date. 
  • The counsel who will be conducting the trial should be briefed to appear at the directions hearing.
  • The pre-trial directions hearing will ensure parties are ready for the trial.
  • The aim of the Court is to facilitate the resolution of the majority of proceedings on or before their listed trial date. Trials will only be vacated and re-timetabled on the basis of COVID-19 restrictions if no reasonable alternative exists.
  • Parties will be advised by the associate to the trial judge as to when judgment is to be delivered. 
  • Judgment will usually be delivered by email and published on the AustLII website.
  • Where judgment is to be delivered by eHearing or at an in-person hearing, the associate will contact the parties and arrange an eHearing or hearing for the delivery of the judgment. 

Remote eHearings (including remote eTrials)

  • Parties appearing remotely at an eHearing are taken to be appearing as though they were present at Court. 
  • The Court recommends that participants in an eHearing use a smart device no smaller than an iPad (9.7”).
  • iPhones and Android phones must not be used for eHearings or eTrials. 
  • The hearing expectations are the same as in the Common Law Division. 
  • Where a regional court is able to accommodate a civil circuit on site, parties will be informed by the Registry in advance of the trial date. Where this is not possible, circuit cases will be offered to be transferred to be heard in person in Melbourne or heard as remote virtual hearings. 

County Koori Court.

  • County Koori Court processes have been modified.
  • Hearing will occur under two different settings. 
  • Setting 1 - Plea hearings are conducted with in person appearances.
  • Setting 2 - Plea hearings are conducted with remote appearances via WebEx. 
  • From 17 May 2021, setting 1 will apply in Melbourne and setting 2 will apply to all regional matters. 

Magistrates’ Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

COVID Recovery, 25 November 2021 – Practice Direction 5 of 2021

  • This Practice Direction outlines arrangements which apply from 6 December 2021. 
  • All Magistrates’ Court venues across the state will remain open, but attendance is subject to this Practice Direction.

Criminal matters

  Represented accused on bail or summons

  • From 6 December 2021:
    • All criminal matters involving represented accused to proceed via WebEx/Online Magistrates’ Court (OMC).
    • Permission to be sought and obtained prior to in-person appearances.
    • Any enquiries about a listing should be made in the first instance with the registry at which the matter is listed.
    • All practitioners with criminal matters must contact the registry not later than 3 clear working days prior to the current listing date for the purpose of obtaining a time via WebEx/OMC. 
  • From 10 January 2022:
    • Option for represented accused to appear physically or via WebEx/OMC, as directed by the Court.
    • Where an accused attends a court physically, their legal representative must attend physically with them.
    • In mention courts, open links will be used where possible. 
    • If appearing via WebEx/OMC, it is the practitioner’s responsibility to ensure that both the practitioner and client are able to join the link in the allocated block. 
    • It is the practitioner’s responsibility to make all necessary arrangements for themselves and their client to appear via WebEx/OMC.

  Unrepresented accused on bail or summons 

  • An accused who is not legally represented must, as soon as possible and prior to the hearing date, visit the MCV website for information about going to court. 
  • From 6 December 2021:
    • All criminal matters involving unrepresented accused to proceed via WebEx/OMC. 
    • Permission to be sought and obtained prior to in-person appearances. 
    • Where an unrepresented accused cannot appear remotely, they must contact the relevant local court registry by email or telephone at least 3 clear working days prior to the hearing date.
    • In circumstances where the Court cannot accommodate a remote hearing, the matter may be adjourned, and bail will be extended in absence where appropriate.
  • From 10 January 2022:
    • Unrepresented accused to appear physically unless they made all necessary arrangements for the matter to be heard via WebEx/OMC, or otherwise as directed by the Court.
    • Unrepresented accused may request that a criminal case be listed by WebEx/OMC by contacting the registry at which the matter is listed at least 3 clear working days prior to the hearing date. 
    • After a request is made, the Court will confirm with the unrepresented accused whether the case is suitable for hearing via WebEx/OMC, and if so, confirm the date and time of the hearing and provide the WebEx link before the hearing (which may not be the current listing date).
    • Where an unrepresented accused has not arranged for their criminal case to be heard via WebEx/OMC, the accused must attend the court venue at which the criminal case is listed on the listed date and at the listed time, to answer bail or summons. If the accused does not attend the court venue at which the criminal case is listed at the listed date and time, the matter may be heard and determined in the accused’s absence or a warrant may be issued for the accused’s arrest.

  Accused in custody 

  • First remand hearings
    • Accused are to be transported to the closest court venue.
    • Where an accused is physically brought before the Court, Prosecution and Defence practitioners are required to appear physically before the Court unless otherwise ordered by the Court. 
    • Informants and other witnesses may appear via WebEx/OMC, provided this does not interrupt or delay court business. 
    • Bail support through CISP, all CISP assessments and case management will be remotely via WebEx, telephone or in person as determined by the Court. 
    • Where an accused consents to appear via WebEx/OMC, the following will apply:
      • Accused arrested and held at a police complex
      • Defence practitioner notified by police that accused is in custody
      • Police enable private conferences by telephone or by WebEx for practitioner to obtain instructions from accused
      • Assessments relevant to any application for bail will be enabled by telephone, WebEx or in person, as determined by the clinician
      • Informant contacts closest court venue and advises of intention to file charges and obtains appropriate email address
      • Police file charges electronically to the relevant court venue
      • Defence practitioner contacts the relevant court venue and provides completed appearance sheet
      • The Court lists the matter and notifies the parties of the date and time of the hearing
      • Accused appears via WebEx/OMC from the relevant police complex
      • Informant appears via WebEx/OMC, or as directed by the Court
      • Defence practitioners appear via WebEx/OMC, unless otherwise directed by the Court
      • Prosecutors appear in person from the courtroom, unless otherwise directed by the Court.
  • Bail applications
    • All bail applications which are not first remand hearings will be listed via WebEx.
  • All other hearings with an accused in custody
    • Second or subsequent hearings where an accused is in custody will proceed remotely, unless otherwise directed by the Court.
    • To order an accused to appear in person at a court venue in any matter other than a first remand hearing, the Court must be satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable to appear via audio-visual link and physical appearance is required in the interests of justice. 

Summary case conferences 

  • A summary case conference is not a court event and should be conducted between the parties as soon as possible following charge and not later than 7 days prior to the next listed hearing date.

Matters to continue to be heard by WebEx/OMC

  • The following criminal matters will be listed via WebEx/OMC unless otherwise directed by the Court:
    • Committal mentions where the accused is legally represented
    • Contest mentions where the accused is legally represented
    • Special mentions where the accused is legally represented 
    • Applications, other than bail applications made at the first remand date, where the accused is legally represented
    • All custody matters except first remand hearings
    • All Judicial Registrar Council lists
    • In relation to the above hearing types, permission may be sought from any court venue, or the Court may direct in any matter, in-person attendance by a represented accused, a legal practitioner, witness or other court participant.
    • Requests for in person attendance should be made to the registry at the relevant local court at least 3 clear working days prior to the proposed date of attendance, unless the matter is urgent. 

Drug Court, Assessment and Referral Court (ARC), Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC), and Court Integrated Services Program (CISP)

  • Drug Court participants may appear physically or via WebEx/OMC at each court review, as directed by the Court. Where a participant is legally represented, the practitioner must appear physically if the participant appears physically.
  • ARC participants may appear physically or via WebEx/OMC, as directed by the Court. 
  • NJC client services may be conducted in person or remotely via audio-visual link or telephone, as directed by the Court
  • Participant appointments with CISP or Specialist Court staff may be conducted in person or remotely via WebEx or telephone, as the Court orders or registry/CISP staff direct.

Koori Court

  • Koori Court hearings may be conducted in person or via WebEx/OMC, as directed by the Court. 
  • Any requests for alternative arrangements by a participant should be made to the local court registry at least 3 clear working days prior to the hearing date. 

Family Violence (FV)

  • From 6 December 2021:
    • All FV matters will proceed via WebEx/OMC, unless otherwise directed by the Court.
    • Permission to be sought and obtained prior to in-person appearances. 
  • From 7 February 2022:
    • All FV matters to be heard in person unless arrangements have been made to appear via WebEx/OMC, or as otherwise directed by the Court. 
    • The Court may direct that an Affected Family Member appear remotely via WebEx/OMC.
    • Respondents must appear in court physically, unless otherwise directed by the Court. 

  FV Interim Intervention Order applications (non-VicPol applicant)

  • From 6 December 2021: 
    • Applicants at immediate risk should call 000.
    • Applications may proceed on the papers where supported by an affidavit or declaration of truth.
    • Applicants should use the online form wherever possible.
    • If an applicant is unable to use the online form or it is unsafe to do so, they should call the local court registry for assistance and to make arrangements to complete an application. 
    • Applicants who cannot use the online form or who do not have access to a telephone, or have a language barrier or disability, or for whom it is unsafe to do so, may attend their local court registry and will be assisted by a registrar.
    • Attendance in person at a court building should only be by prior arrangement with the Court. 
  • From 7 February 2022:
    • Applications will be heard in person at the relevant court venue with all participants attending physically, unless otherwise directed by the Court.
    • Where an Affected Family Member or a respondent appears physically at court and is legally represented, their practitioner must also appear physically at court. 
    • The Court may direct that an Affected Family Member appear remotely via WebEx/OMC. 
    • All respondents in FV matters must attend physically at court unless otherwise directed by the Court. 
    • If a respondent has been served with the application and does not attend, the Court may hear and determine the matter in the respondent’s absence.  
    • Applications may proceed on the papers where supported by an affidavit or declaration of truth. 
    • Applicants should use the online form wherever possible.

  VicPol applications for FV Intervention Orders (FVIO) and Family Violence Safety Notices (FVSN)

  • From 6 December 2021:
    • VicPol FVIO applications and FVSNs will be heard remotely via WebEx/OMC, unless otherwise directed by the Court. 
    • Affected Family Members will be contacted by VicPol before the hearing for the purpose of obtaining updated information for the hearing. 
    • If an Affected Family Member agrees with the application made by the police and the conditions sought, they are not required to appear at the hearing, provided they remain available via WebEx or telephone on the listed date. 
    • If an Affected Family Member does not agree with the application made by the police or the conditions sought, they should appear remotely via WebEx/OMC. They must also complete the applicant/affected family member pre-court information form at least 7 days prior to the next hearing date.
    • A respondent to an application made by VicPol must complete the respondent pre-court information form at least 7 days prior to the hearing date. 
    • If a respondent has been served with the application and does not make contact with the Court, the Court may hear and determine the matter in the respondent’s absence. 
  • From 7 February 2022:
    • VicPol FVIO applications and FVSNs will be heard in person at the relevant court, unless a party has confirmed arrangements with the Court to proceed via WebEx/OMC, or as otherwise directed by the Court. 
    • If an Affected Family Member agrees with the application made by the police and the conditions sought, they are not required to appear at the hearing, provided they remain available via WebEx or telephone on the listed date.
    • If an Affected Family Member does not agree with the application made by the police or the conditions sought, they should appear at the hearing either physically or remotely via WebEx/OMC.
    • All respondents in family violence matters must attend physically at court unless otherwise directed by the Court. If a respondent has been served with the application and does not attend, the Court may hear and determine the matter in the respondent’s absence.

    Option for Affected Family Members to appear via WebEx/OMC 

  • Requests to appear via WebEx/OMC by Affected Family Members must be directed to a registrar at the relevant local court registry at least 7 days prior to the proposed date of hearing, unless the matter is urgent. 
  • Note: Court lists will run dual track in person and via WebEx where this is possible. 

  Personal Safety Intervention Order (PSIO) applications 

  • From 6 December 2021:
    • All PSIO matters will proceed via WebEx/OMC, unless otherwise directed by the Court.
    • Permission to be sought and obtained prior to in-person appearances.
    • To make a PSIO application, contact the local court registry via telephone or email to make an appointment with a registrar.
    • Parties must complete and file the PSIO pre-court information form at least 7 days prior to the date of the hearing.
  • From 7 February 2022:
    • All PSIO matters will be heard in person unless arrangements have been made to appear via WebEx/OMC, or as otherwise directed by the Court.
    • Respondents must appear in court physically, unless otherwise directed by the Court.
    • Affected persons in PSIO applications made by Victoria Police may attend physically but are not required to do so, provided they remain available via WebEx or telephone on the listed date.
    • Applicants in PSIO matters where Victoria Police is not the applicant must attend court physically unless they are represented and their practitioner has made all necessary arrangements to have the matter heard by WebEx/OMC, or the Court directs otherwise.
    • All respondents in PSIO matters must attend physically at court unless the Court directs otherwise. If a respondent has been served and does not appear, the Court may hear and determine the matter in the respondent’s absence.
    • If an applicant does not appear, the Court may proceed to hear and determine the matter in the applicant’s absence or strike the application out. 

Civil matters

  • Civil hearings (including applications and directions hearings) will be conducted remotely via WebEx/OMC, unless otherwise directed by the Court.
  • Where a party cannot appear remotely or considers that a matter is not suitable for remote hearing, they must, upon receipt of Notice of Hearing, request to attend in person by emailing the relevant local court registry, providing a brief written outline of the reasons why the matter should not proceed remotely.
  • A request for in-person attendance will be determined by the Court, having regard to the urgency and overall circumstances of the matter. The Court will then direct the parties as to how the matter will proceed.
  • Where the Court has determined that a matter will proceed in person, the parties should only attend the relevant court venue at the time directed by the Court.
  • If a party must physically attend a court venue to make an application, they should first contact the relevant local court registry and only attend at the time directed by the registrar.

WorkCover and Industrial Division matters

  • WorkCover and Industrial Division hearings (including urgent applications, directions hearings, early neutral evaluations and contested mentions) will be conducted remotely via WebEx/OMC, unless otherwise directed by the Court.
  • Where a party cannot appear remotely or considers that a matter is not suitable for remote hearing, they must request to attend in person by email. 
  • A request for in-person attendance will be determined by the Court, having regard to the urgency and overall circumstances of the matter. The Court will then direct the parties as to how the matter will proceed.
  • Where the Court has determined that a matter will proceed in person, the parties should only attend the relevant court venue at the time directed by the Court.
  • If a party must physically attend a court venue to make an application, they should first contact the relevant local court registry and only attend at the time directed by the registrar.

Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT)

  • VOCAT will hear applications on the papers, via WebEx/OMC, via telephone or in person, as directed by the Tribunal.

Counter services

  • All documents capable of being filed or communicated digitally must be filed or communicated digitally.
  • Persons who cannot comply with digital filing or communication or where a matter is not amenable to digital communication may attend at registry for counter service.
  • Parties wishing to attend to have documents witnessed or certified must first make an appointment with the relevant local court venue. 
  • No walk-in attendance is permitted unless the registrar determines that the matter is urgent.

Attendance at court venues

  • All persons who attend court venues must:
    • Wear a mask in public areas unless they are exempt or the Court directs otherwise.
    • Comply with social distancing.
    • Follow directions, including the use of QR codes for entrance into the building, and
    • Follow any direction under the Court Security Act 1980

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:

  • The Online Children’s Court (the OCC) will hear matters across all Divisions of the Court.
  • Any physical attendance at a Court venue must be made by prior arrangement with the relevant registry, save for urgent and priority family violence matters.

Attending Court

  • Only the following people are permitted to physically attend the Children’s Court, anyone who is:
    • in immediate need of the face to face services of the registry;
    • admitted by direction of a registrar or a judicial officer of the Court;
    • a party to a proceeding;
    • a legal representative of a party to a proceeding;
    • a support person for a party to a proceeding (one support person per party); or
    • a representative of the media
  • No other persons are permitted to enter the Court. 
  • People are not permitted to enter the 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.
  • Anyone entering the Court will be required to access a QR code to record their attendance or will be assisted to record their contact details. 
  • 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.
  • DFFH 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 hearings requiring a child to attend Court are suspended. 
  • Where a child is not on remand and is represented by a legal practitioner, the legal practitioner may arrange with the relevant Court for the matter to be listed for hearing via the OCC.
  • Where a child is not legally represented, their matter will be adjourned to the next available return date and a hearing notice will be sent to the child. 
  • After the first remand hearing date for all bail applications, unless otherwise ordered, the accused will appear via AV link from a youth justice facility.
  • Any application for a variation of bail conditions, whether opposed or unopposed may be heard on the papers if the Court is satisfied it is in the interests of justice to do so.
  • All Children’s Koori Court hearings are suspended until further notice.
  • The Children’s Court Clinic will conduct assessments either in person, remotely by Telehealth, or by other non-contact means as appropriate.
  • Fast Track Remand Court will continue to apply. FTRC will be heard at staggered listing times with child accused appearing 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.

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:

  • In Melbourne, urgent and priority matters not able to be held remotely will be held in person. 
  • Outside Melbourne, the Courts will continue to use a mixture of in-person and remote hearings. In person hearings that would require individuals to travel from Melbourne into the regions will only proceed in urgent and priority matters. 
  • Hearings may now be conducted in person, by technological means or via a combination of both.
  • Physical attendance at Coroners Court hearings no longer requires authorisation by the State Coroner.
  • Any in-person hearings must adhere to public health directions, including mask wearing. 
  • Media and the public: media and members of the public may continue to request to attend hearings remotely via technological means, and may also attend in person without seeking prior authorisation.

Federal 

High Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • The High Court building in Canberra is only open when the Court is sitting and hearings can be attended if permitted by current COVID-19 restrictions. If you have business with the Court contact Registry.
  • 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

Restrictions in Victoria, ACT, NSW and Queensland

  • There will be no face-to-face services in the NSW, Victoria and ACT registries, unless otherwise approved by the Head of Jurisdiction.
  • The Court remains open to support litigants and the legal profession through online and telephone services.
  • Anyone entering Court buildings in Victoria, Queensland, NSW and ACT will need to ‘check in’ using a QR code system and show the green tick on their phone to security as part of the entry scanning process. Anyone without a phone can check in manually at the security desk.

Measures:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Restrictions in Victoria, ACT, NSW and Queensland

  • There will be no face-to-face services in the following registries, unless otherwise approved by the Head of Jurisdiction:
    • Melbourne and Dandenong until Tuesday 26 October 2021
    • Canberra until Monday 18 October 2021
    • NSW until Monday 11 October 2021
  • Anyone entering Court buildings in Queensland, NSW and ACT will need to ‘check in’ and show the green tick on their phone to security as part of the entry scanning process. Anyone without a phone can check in manually at the security desk.
  • Reminder that family law disputes impacted by the pandemic may be dealt with through the Courts’ COVID-19 List.

Measures:

  • 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.

FCFCOA Practice Direction – COVID-19 Special Measures, 7 September 2021

  • The Court is modifying practices to minimise attendance at court registries, with the Court’s priority being the health and safety of judges, staff and the community.
  • This Practice Direction:
    • Revokes Practice Direction 2 of 2020
    • Applies to all family law, migration and general federal law applications filed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (the Court)
    • Applies to all proceedings commenced on or after 1 September 2021. It also applies to all proceedings commenced prior to 1 September 2021, unless it is unfair or impractical to do so. 

Filing of documents

  • Legal practitioners and parties must eFile or eLodge all documents.
  • Documents should only be lodged for filing by email to the relevant registry if they are unable to be eFiled or eLodged.
  • Hard copies of documents are not to be posted or delivered to the registry.

Subpoenas and inspection of documents

  • Refer to the ‘Special Measures Information Notice – COVID-19 Electronic Subpoena Inspection’ on the Court’s website.

Signatures on documents and affidavits

  • The Court will accept documents that have been signed electronically by the deponent and/or the legal representative on record for the party.
  • If a person is unable to have a document witnessed in person, they should endeavour to have the document witnessed by a qualified witness via electronic means, including by video.

Deferral of fee payments

  • The process for online payments, including when eFiling, will remain unchanged. 
  • Where registry staff cannot process fee payments while working remotely, the registry staff may ‘defer’ a fee payment.
  • Where registry staff are able to work from the registry, they will continue to process payment for documents that have been scanned and emailed to the Court. 
  • Legal practitioners may set up a direct debit account for the payment of filing fees by completing the Direct Debit Request form on the Court’s website.

Appeal proceedings

  • The Court will determine whether appeal listings can be conducted on the papers, by telephone or by other electronic means on a case by case basis.
  • Where possible, the registry will contact parties at least two weeks prior to the event to advise on arrangements for the appeal listing. 

Family Law Practice Direction – National COVID-19 List, 1 September 2021

  • This Practice Direction:
    • Revokes Joint Practice Direction 1 of 2021: the COVID-19 List
    • Expands the National COVID-19 List to deal with additional family law applications which are filed as a direct result of COVID-19
    • Is to be read together with the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021, and the FCFCOA Practice Direction – COVID-19 Special Measures
    • Applies to all proceedings commenced after 1 September 2021 and all proceedings commenced prior to 1 September 2021 unless it is unfair or impractical to do so. 

Criteria for National COVID-19 List

  • An application must satisfy the following criteria to be considered for the National COVID-19 List:
    • The application has been filed as a direct result of, or in significant connection to, the COVID-19 pandemic
    • The matter is urgent or of a priority nature
    • The application is accompanied by a COVID-19 affidavit 
    • Reasonable but unsuccessful attempts have been made to resolve the issue, where safe to do so
    • The matter can be dealt with electronically.

Operation of the National COVID-19 List

  • The National COVID-10 List is administered by the COVID-19 Judicial Registrars.
  • In triaging an application, the COVID-19 Judicial Registrars will consider whether the matter is suitable for an urgent electronic mediation or conciliation and may make orders to facilitate this. 
  • If the application does not meet the criteria for inclusion in the National COVID-19 List, it will be referred to the Judicial Registrar or Deputy Registrar on duty for listing. 
  • Where a proceeding involves significant risk to the parties and/or children, it will be referred directly to a Judge by the COVID-19 Judicial Registrar.
  • The National COVID-10 List will operate electronically. 

Filing an application in the National COVID-19 List

  • An application must be accompanied by documents specified in paragraph 4.2 of the Practice Direction.
  • The affidavit in support of the application must address additional criteria on why the matter should be considered for the National COVID-19 List.
  • Unless it is not safe to do so, the applicant must put the respondent on notice of the application.
  • The COVID-19 Judicial Registrar may require the respondent to file responding material on short notice.

Applications that may be suitable for the National COVID-19 List

  • Applications accepted into the National COVID-19 List are at the discretion of the COVID-19 Judicial Registrar or Judge. 
  • Examples of applications that may be considered suitable include: family violence, suspension of parenting orders due to a family violence order, vaccinations, medical complications due to contracting COVID-19, travel arrangements on border restrictions, supervised contact, urgent or priority financial and maintenance issues, failure to resume time in accordance with parenting orders or a parenting plan, and COVID-19 related employment. 

AAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

  • The AAT’s Melbourne and Sydney registries are closed to visitors until further notice.
  • As restrictions in Melbourne and Sydney are lifted, the AAT will gradually resume in-person hearings and persona designate functions, prioritising matters where a remote hearing or process is not preferable. 
  • In-person hearings will only proceed where all parties, representatives and other participants are willing to show evidence of vaccination.
  • In-person hearings will be managed with a focus on health and safety of members, staff and users. 
  • Parties who are approved to attend AAT premises will be advised on the process for providing evidence in advance.
  • Face masks requirements will be in line with local public health orders.

Measures:

  • Parties must call ahead if they need to come to the AAT offices
  • 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 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

Supreme Court Jury Trials, 16 November 2021

General

  • The Court will continue to follow and observe government health advice and may vary procedures at short notice in response to changing conditions. 
  • The Court will continue to take all reasonable steps and precautions to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
  • Additional cleaning services are operating at the court’s locations.
  • The Court will establish a trial ‘bubble’ for each jury trial. 
  • Each person attending the trial in person must be fully vaccinated, with the possible exception of the accused and any person specifically authorised by the trial judge.
  • All court participants will complete regular rapid antigen screening. 
  • Additional jurors will be considered on a case by case basis. Before ordering additional jurors the trial judge should consider the size of the proposed courtroom and jury deliberation room and whether it can accommodate additional jurors.
  • Similar arrangements will apply for all Supreme Court trials in regional locations, subject to location variations. 

Pre-trial considerations

  • The presiding judge may consider it appropriate to convene an informal pre-trial meeting with legal representatives one or two weeks before the trial to discuss practical matters concerning the trial.
  • Media and the public can attend in person with the permission of the trial judge. 
  • AVL links can be provided subject to the discretion of the trial judge. 
  • All persons in court will need to be fully vaccinated. The onus is on the solicitors for the parties to make enquiries of all their participants and confirm their vaccination status to the court. 
  • The Court will not collect or store vaccination information, other than the court transcript of proceedings.
  • Masks will be required by everyone in the courtroom except for the judge and those speaking.

Jurors and Empanelment

  • The Office of the Sheriff will ensure all potential jurors are fully vaccinated and have completed rapid antigen screening before the empanelment process commences.
  • During empanelment, physical distancing will be strictly maintained. 
  • The jury panel will be in a separate room, with an AVL connection to the courtroom. 

Rapid antigen testing (RAS)

  • RAS will be conducted prior to empanelment. If a potential juror returns a positive result, the juror will be excused from the summons and referred immediately for a PCR test and advised to go home and isolate. 
  • All trial participants will complete RAS on the first day of the trial.
  • Having established the trial bubble, all participants will complete RAS every three days. 
  • Where a witness or interpreter is not fully vaccinated, they may be required to appear remotely via AVL. 

From 1 November 2021, the Court will ease restrictions as follows:

  • From Monday 1 November:
    • 2 sqm rule applies
    • Three live hearing per floor
    • Civil matters only, including appeals
    • Criminal appeals
    • Motions can be conducted in person with 20 minute gaps between each matter
    • Multiple parties allowed
    • Each party will be allowed three legal representatives, a client representative, and witnesses
    • Media to notify the Media Manager of their intention to attend in person
    • Members of the public may only attend by AVL or telephone.
  • From early December (subject to review):
    • Same arrangements as those from 1 November 2021
    • No limit to the number of legal representatives allowed to attend, subject to courtroom capacity limits.
    • Double vaccination applies to all those attending.

Measures:

  • All persons appearing in person to be double vaccinated.
  • The onus is on the solicitors for the parties to make enquiries of all their participants and confirm their vaccination status to the court. 
  • Masks are compulsory throughout the court. Everyone in a courtroom must wear a mask, with some exemptions. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • The registry public counter remains closed. 

District Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Operational update, 15 November 2021

In view of easing restrictions, from 15 November 2021 the District Court will operate under the 1.5m spacing and 2 sqm rule principles, which includes jury trials. 

District Court Practice Note 25, 15 November 2021

  • This Practice Note commences on 15 November 2021. 
  • With the further easing of restrictions and increased vaccination rates, applications may now be made for leave to be granted for in person appearances in sentencing proceedings listed for hearing on or after 15 November 2021. 
  • All other matters will continue to be heard in the virtual courtroom. 

Resumption of Jury Trials and in person appearances in Judge Alone Trials, District Court Practice Note 23

  • This Practice Note commences on 21 October 2021. 
  • In person appearances will only be allowed for new jury trials from 25 October 2021.
  • The steps that the Court will take to enable the return of jury trials in a way that is in the interests of the health and wellbeing of all court participants will build on the measures implemented in 2020 which included the enlargement of jury rooms, the hiring of external facilities for jury deliberation and empanelment, 4m2 physical distancing, juries in the round, individualised meals for jurors and mandatory face mask wearing for all court participants.
  • In addition, all jurors are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and all court participants must undergo rapid antigen screening (RAS) at least twice weekly or as otherwise required.
  • All other matters in the Court will continue to be conducted by use of the virtual courtroom, subject to any leave granted by application to the trial Judge in judge alone trials. 
  • To ensure the safe resumption of jury trials, the Court strongly encourages legal practitioners to be vaccinated.  
  • The following court locations will resume new jury trials:
    • The Downing Centre
    • John Maddison Tower
    • Campbelltown
    • Dubbo
    • Gosford
    • Katoomba
    • Newcastle
    • Parramatta
    • Penrith
    • Wollongong 
    • Queanbeyan
    • Armidale
    • Goulburn
    • Grafton
    • Tamworth 
  • The Court acknowledges that any court participant has the right to decline to provide their vaccination status.
  • The consequences of declining to provide a court participant’s vaccination status may vary and will depend upon whether the participant consents to RAS.

Prior to the Pre-Trial Callover

  • No later than two days prior to the pre-trial callover, the Crown is to file a list of witnesses that the Crown intends to call at trial, with their vaccination status, preferred mode of attendance, and whether they consent to RAS.
  • Where a Crown witness declines to provide their vaccination status or evidence of such, or does not consent to RAS, an application may be made pursuant to s 5B(1) of the Evidence (Audio and Audio Visual Links) Act 1998 (NSW) (the Act) seeking a direction that the witness give evidence to the Court by audio link or audio-visual link from any place within or outside New South Wales.
  • Such application is to be made and determined by the trial Judge at the commencement of a trial before the jury is empanelled. 
  • Alternatively, pursuant to s 5B(1) of the Act, the Court, on its own motion, may direct that a witness give evidence to the Court by audio link or audio-visual link from any place within or outside New South Wales.
  • No later than two days prior to the pre-trial callover, the Defence is to file a list of expert and/or alibi witnesses that are to be called in the trial, with their vaccination status, preferred mode of attendance, and whether they consent to RAS. 
  • Where a Defence witness declines to provide their vaccination status, an application can be made under the Act (or on the Court’s own motion) directing the witness given evidence by audio link or audio-visual link from any place within or outside New South Wales.

At the Pre-Trial Callover

  • Pre-trial callovers will continue to be conducted remotely until further order.
  • At the pre-trial callover, counsel for the Crown and counsel for the accused person must:
    • Clearly identify all pre-trial issues and the estimated length of the pre-trial hearing;
    • Provide forms disclosing the vaccination status of counsel and instructing solicitors and whether they consent to undergo RAS;
    • Confirm that all proposed exhibits consented to be tendered have been prepared into a tender bundle with the appropriate number of copies ready to be brought into the Court on the trial date. 

Arrangements for RAS

  • Counsel and solicitors must make themselves known to the Sheriff’s officer or RAS clinic staff so that arrangements might be made for priority testing. Counsel and solicitors will be required to undergo RAS at least twice-weekly or as otherwise required by the Sheriff of NSW.
  • The party calling a witness whose evidence is to be given in person must arrange with the Sheriff’s officer or RAS clinic staff a suitable time for the witness to undergo RAS. 
  • Parties must make allowance for RAS to be conducted within an appropriate time prior to the witness being called. Witnesses will be required to undergo RAS at least twice-weekly or as otherwise required by the Sheriff of NSW.
  • An accused person who is not in custody is to be accompanied by his or her counsel or instructing solicitor for RAS at least twice-weekly or as otherwise required by the Sheriff of NSW.
  • Where an accused person is in custody, the accused person is to undergo RAS conducted by Corrective Services NSW every two days during the trial prior to be transported to the Court. 

Exemption from RAS or vaccination

  • A court participant may be exempt from vaccination and/or testing. If a court participant is exempt, this must be in accordance with current NSW Health Public Health Orders.
  • A court participant may have a medical contraindication exempting him or her from being vaccinated even though they have not had COVID-19. A court participant who is exempt from being vaccinated but has not had COVID-19 is still required to undertake RAS.
  • Where an exemption applies, evidence is required to be carried at all times and must be presented to the Sheriff’s officers and/or legal representatives complying with this Practice Note.

Failure to consent to RAS or decline to provide vaccination status

  • Where counsel and/or solicitors decline to provide their vaccination status or evidence of such, or do not consent to RAS, the trial may be vacated and relisted on a later date.
  • Where an accused person declines to provide their vaccination status or evidence of such, or does not consent to RAS, the Court may vacate the trial or, on its own motion or with the consent of the parties to the proceedings, may make a direction that the accused person appear before the Court by audio visual link from any place within or outside New South Wales, subject to any bail arrangement.

Empanelment of Juries

  • To enhance COVID-19 safety, the empanelment of juries may be staggered and empanelment times allocated by the List Judge or Senior Judge.
  • The jury will not be empanelled until all pre-trial issues have been determined.

Trial

  • At trial, face mask wearing is mandatory for all court participants. This is waived when:
    • A court participant is addressing the Court or giving evidence;
    • Any witness or court participant is required to remove their face mask for in-court identification;
    • A court participant is unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons which must be established by a medical certificate;
    • There is a reason that the Court considers relevant. 
  • Where a Defence witness does not consent to RAS, an application can be made seeking a direction that the witness given evidence by audio link. 

Accused Person who is Self-represented in Jury Trials

  • Where an accused person is self-represented, they should endeavour to comply with this Practice Notice.
  • Where a self-represented person is able to satisfy the trial Judge that they are vaccinated and consent to RAS, the person should be permitted to appear in person. 

Applications for Leave – Judge alone trials

  • Leave will not be granted to any person to attend the Court in person unless the trial Judge is satisfied that they are vaccinated.
  • Solicitors for the parties must enquire as to the vaccination status of all their proposed court participants and provide that information to the trial Judge.

Open Justice

  • Members of the public may not attend court in person. Should a member of the public wish to view a trial, attendance will be permitted by use of the virtual courtroom.
  • A member of the media who wishes to attend a trial in person must provide evidence that they are vaccinated and consents to undergo RAS. Any attendance in person must not infringe the 4m2 rule. Where a member of the media declines to provide his or her vaccination status or declines to undergo RAS, attendance will be permitted by use of the virtual courtroom.

Local Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement 

The following arrangements apply until 24 January 2022:

  • Each court will take steps to limit the transmissibility of COVID-19, including masks, check-in’s, physical distancing requirements and density limits. 
  • Where court users are unable to attend court for health reasons, the court may, on application, make available the use of AV link technology to enable necessary participation.
  • In limited circumstances, rapid antigen screening or other forms of testing may be available. This will be assessed on a case by case basis.
  • Masks are required in all courts and all court participants are required to wear a fitted face mask save where an applicable exception or medical exemption applies.  
  • The attendance of support persons should be in accordance with any limits imposed under the Court Security Act 2005. Discretion in relation to the attendance of support persons remains with the presiding judicial officer. 

Defended hearings (including where the defendant/accused is in custody):

  • All defended hearings that require a witness to give evidence at a Local Court may proceed at the discretion of the presiding judicial officer.
  • Where matters may proceed safely and in accordance with COVID Safety Measures, courts may list defended hearings.
  • Courts may arrange for remote witness evidence to accommodate individuals required to be present at defended hearings who are unable to appear in person for health related reasons. 
  • Due to high demand of court technology, all parties (apart from those in custody) are to physically attend for a defended hearing unless an application has been made and granted to allow an appearance by alternative means.  
  • It is at the discretion of each presiding judicial officer what restrictions might be imposed at a particular location. 

Small claims hearings 

  • Small claims hearings will remain listed and proceed via telephone. 
  • If parties object to the hearing being conducted via telephone they should notify the court as soon as possible. 
  • Hearings that are unable to be conducted by telephone will be adjourned for hearing on a date after 24 January 2022. 

Matters listed for mention 

  • No physical appearance is required. 
  • Written notices of pleadings will continue to be accepted electronically. Parties may seek to appear in writing, via telephone or AVL. 
  • The court’s preferred option for all procedural listings is to accept appearances in writing (email). The court has provided an email template to be used by legal practitioners when communicating with the court. 

Committal proceedings

  • Where there is consent by the prosecution, defendants on bail are not required to physically attend the court. These appearances are to be accommodated via AVL. 

Defendants in custody

  • Wherever possible all defendants in custody should appear via AVL, unless listed for hearing and an order has been made to bring the defendant physically before the Court.

List matters 

  • No physical appearance is required. Written notices of pleadings will be accepted electronically. 
  • For all listings of a procedural nature, the court’s preferred option is to accept appearances in writing, by email. 
  • Where a defendant is legally represented, the representative may enter an appearance, make a request or indicate a plea to the court by email. 
  • Where a defendant is unrepresented, the unrepresented defendant may contact the court by email to adjourn and the reason for the request.
  • An unrepresented defendant may enter a plea by email or by written notice of pleading.

Hearings

  • All parties not in custody are to physically attend for the hearing of proceedings unless an application has been made and granted by the court to appear by alternate means. 

Sentence proceedings

  • Except for fine only offences the physical appearance of the defendant and their legal representative is required at sentencing.
  • Where there are compelling reasons for these matters to be heard by AVL or telephone, an application may be made to the court and considered on its merits by the presiding magistrate. 

Fine only offences

  • Application can be made by the defendant and their legal representative to appear via AVL for sentence proceedings for offences that only carry a monetary penalty.

Domestic and personal violence proceedings

  • Where matters may proceed safely, domestic and personal violence proceedings may continue to be listed. 
  • Persons in need of protection are not required to attend court in respect of any application brought by police for an apprehended domestic violence order unless the proceedings are fixed for hearing. 

Guidance for appearance by email and AVL

  • An email appearance should be received by the court no later than 1pm the day before the matter is listed.
  • An email appearance should clearly and concisely set out what orders are being sought from the court.
  • An email appearance must contain contact details for the legal practitioner with carriage of the matter. 
  • All practitioners appearing by AVL must, at all times, dress and conduct themselves as though they are appearing in person before the Court. 

Children's Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement 

Public Notice of Response to COVID-19 Pandemic No.12, 30 November 2021

The Children’s Court will adopt a staged return to normal operations as set out in this Notice having regard to the health and well-being of all court users and the need to ensure timely access to justice for children and their families.

This Notice commences on 6 December 2021. 

General listing arrangements applicable to all Children’s Court proceedings

  • All crime, parole, care, protection, education and AVO lists will continue to operate.
  • Wherever practicable staggered listing arrangements should be adopted to reduce the time that court participants are required to wait in court foyers.
  • All first appearance bail matters are to be conducted by AVL unless the Court otherwise directs.
  • Except as otherwise specified, parties and legal practitioners may appear by AVL.
  • Telephone attendance will only be approved by the Court where AVL is not available or where a court participant does not have access to AVL technology.
  • Legal practitioners appearing for defendants in criminal cases are to appear in person from 6 December 2021 unless leave has been granted to appear by AVL. 
  • Legal practitioners in care and protection, AVO or education lists are to appear in person from 31 January 2022 unless agreement as to consent orders has been reached or leave has been granted to appear by AVL. 
  • Legal practitioners should not appear by AVL where their client is appearing in person. 
  • Unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer, parties in the following circumstances are to appear in person:
    • Hearings
    • Sentences
    • Replies to brief where a plea of guilty is to be entered and proceedings are to be finalised
    • Applications for an order under the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020. 
  • In other circumstances, parties are excused from appearing if legally represented unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer.
  • In care and protection proceedings legal practitioners should endeavour to reach a consent position. 
  • Where the Court has directed a young person in custody to appear in person, Youth Justice is to advise the Court as soon as possible if there is any impediment to bringing the young person to Court. 

Arrangements for the conduct of hearings

  • All cases listed for hearing in the criminal, AVO and care and protection jurisdictions will be listed for Readiness Hearing approximately one month prior to the hearing date. Any case that is listed for hearing and does not have a Readiness Hearing date will be relisted for Readiness Hearing.
  • Hearings that do not require witnesses or can be conducted by AVL will proceed if a court is available and subject to judicial officer and staffing capacity at the relevant location.
  • Hearings that require the personal attendance of a party or a witness may proceed if the hearing can be conducted safely after consideration of a number of factors.
  • Where a party is concerned that a hearing delay is impacting the safety, welfare and wellbeing of a child, they should notify the Registrar and request that the case be listed before a judicial officer for consideration of allocating a priority hearing date.

Youth Koori Court

  • Young people are to appear in person unless alternative arrangements are approved by the Court. 
  • Community Panel Members will appear in person unless alternative arrangements are made by the Court. 
  • Support agencies may be asked to appear by AVL to reduce the number of participants in the courtroom at any given time.

Special Fixture Hearings

  • Special fixture hearings will be considered on a case-by-case basis and may be relisted for a further Readiness Hearing to ascertain whether the matter is able to proceed.
  • Parties involved in special fixtures during the operation of these arrangements will be notified when a matter is relisted.

Dispute Resolution Conferences

  • Dispute Resolution Conferences (DRCs) will be conducted by AVL across NSW unless otherwise determined by the Children’s Registrar conducting the DRC.
  • From 31 January 2022, personal attendance at DRCs will be required, unless otherwise determined by the Children's Registrar conducting the DRC. 

Compulsory Schooling Order Conferences

  • Requests for a Children's Registrar to conduct a Compulsory Schooling Order Conference will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Senior Children’s Registrar.

Youth Justice Background Reports

  • Where a young person is in custody the court will adjourn for two weeks for the provision of a Youth Justice background report.
  • Where a young person is in the community the court will adjourn for six weeks for the provision of a Youth Justice background report. 

General

  • Persons attending court premises will be required to wear a face covering where mandated by a Public Health Order.
  • In other circumstances, persons attending a Children’s Court are encouraged to wear a face covering. 
  • Arrangements are subject to change at short notice.

Coroners Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement 

The following procedures apply from 1 November 2021 to 24 January 2022:

  • Masks must be worn in the Forensic Medicine and Coroners Court Complex at Lidcombe.
  • All parties, legal representatives and family members may appear via AVL or audio link and are encouraged to do so. 
  • Attendance in person for coronial proceedings will only be permitted if the proceedings can be conducted safely, after consideration of the following factors:
    • Any COVID-19 Public Health Orders or restrictions
    • The number of people involved
    • The size and configuration of the court room and whether physical distancing is possible
    • Any other factor relevant to the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
  • If the counsel assisting team can attend court safely, they can do so.
  • Media may receive an audio link if requested. 
     

NCAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

The following measures apply from 10 December 2021:

  • There will be no in-person hearings until March 2022.
  • Matters will proceed by AV link or telephone if possible.
  • In-person hearings can occur with prior approval of the President in exceptional circumstances.
  • Face masks are now compulsory in all NCAT premises.
  • It is mandatory for people attending NCAT premises to check-in using QR codes.
  • Do not attend an NCAT registry if you do not need to. Counter services are currently restricted.

Queensland 

Queensland Courts ARE open and hearing cases.

  • Masks are required to be worn in courthouses in South East Queensland
  • Masks are also required to be worn in other courthouses if you have been in South East Queensland or Cairns and Yarrabah Local Government Areas within the last 14 days.

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

The Queensland Supreme and District Courts will continue to conduct court matters in Local Government Areas subject to lockdown for the duration of the lockdown.

  • Practitioners should endeavour to minimise the need for physical attendance in courtrooms by minimising the number of people attending court for any given matter. 
  • Within courtrooms, safe distances should be maintained, and practitioners should not be present in court other than when their matters are being dealt with.

Civil matters

  • Civil trials will proceed, subject to the direction of the presiding judge.
  • Telephone or AV link will be used to make applications and call witnesses whenever possible.
  • Applications will be made on the papers where that is feasible.

Criminal matters

  • Only part-heard jury trials will proceed. 
  • Practitioners may apply for judge alone trials.
  • Sentence hearings will proceed by AV link where prisoners are remanded in custody and prisoners on bail will continue to be dealt with in person.

The Court of Appeal will continue hearing matters as usual until further notice.

Measures:

  • From Thursday, 15 April 2021, masks are no longer required to be worn inside a courthouse.
  • Jury trials resumed Tuesday 6 April 2021.
  • 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 2021.
  • 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

QCAT's Brisbane registry returned to normal operations from Wednesday 11 August 2021.

QCAT Practice Direction No. 5 of 2021 outlines QCAT’s arrangements if, and when, any future lockdowns are announced. The arrangements apply on an ongoing basis for any future lockdowns moving forward.

The Practice Direction outlines that in the event a lockdown is announced and until it is lifted:

  • The registry will close to the public but remain open for telephone and email communication.
  • All documents filed can be emailed but a hard copy must be filed no later than 7 days after the end of lockdown (excluding guardianship matters).
  • Any documents relevant to a minor civil dispute matter to be heard in South-East QLD Magistrates Courts may be emailed to the relevant courthouse but a hard copy must also be filed no later than 7 days after the end of lockdown (excluding guardianship matters).
  • All hearings will be commenced by remote conferencing (telephone or video) and the presiding member will determine whether it is appropriate for the hearing to be conducted by remote conferencing. In the event that it is not, the presiding member may adjourn the hearing and make appropriate directions.
  • All directions hearings, compulsory conferences, mediations and conclaves will be conducted by remote conferencing (telephone or video).
  • All assessments will not be conducted until further notice from the Tribunal.
  • The practice direction arrangements do not apply to the Regional Magistrates Courts outside of the locations in within South-East QLD in which QCAT Members/Adjudicators hear matters.

Measures:

  • Arrangements have been made to ensure matters are dealt with in a safe manner.
  • Masks must be worn 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

Arrangements from 23 November 2021:

  • Masks must be worn in all court buildings including courtrooms. However, persons speaking for a protracted period of time will be excused and the mask can be removed.
  • Parties and practitioners are encouraged not to approach Court staff and must always maintain a minimum distance from others of 1.5 metres. 
  • Parties and practitioners are not to come to the Court if they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, are awaiting test results, been directed isolate by SA Health, or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 
  • Obligations to appear in court may be excused if a person does not intend to appear because they honestly and reasonably believe they should self-isolate.
  • Court of Appeal – Any matters listed in the lockdown period will be heard in the ordinary manner unless the presiding Judge otherwise directs. 
  • Criminal Arraignments - Will proceed in the ordinary manner but with all persons in custody appearing by AVL. 
  • Criminal Trials - Part-heard trials will continue to completion. No new trial will be commenced during the lockdown period. Trials listed to commence after the lockdown period will proceed on that day unless the assigned Judge otherwise directs. 
  • Civil Trials - Part-heard trials will continue unless the presiding Judge otherwise directs. 
  • Directions Hearings before Judges - parties are encouraged to agree on consent orders to progress any matter listed for directions in the lockdown period.  All other directions hearings will proceed as listed in the ordinary manner unless the Judge otherwise directs. 
  • Magistrates Appeals - Magistrates Appeals listed in the lockdown period will be heard by way of WebEx.  
  • Master’s Lists - All hearings for the remainder of this week will either be postponed or dealt with administratively. 

Measures:

  • 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

Arrangements from 23 November 2021

  • Masks must be worn in all court buildings including courtrooms. However, persons speaking for a protracted period of time will be excused and the mask can be removed. 
  • Parties and practitioners are encouraged not to approach Court staff and must always maintain a minimum distance from others of 1.5 metres.
  • Parties and practitioners are not to come to the Court if they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, are awaiting test results, been directed isolate by SA Health, or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 
  • Obligations to appear in court may be excused if a person does not intend to appear because they honestly and reasonably believe they should self-isolate.
  • Parties are encouraged to discuss directions hearings and agree orders in advance, requesting that the matter be dealt with via the Court Portal.
  • If parties cannot agree on consent orders, the directions hearing will proceed in person. Parties must maintain social distancing at all times.
  • Telephone or AV Link hearings can be arranged on request with at least 24 hours’ notice.
  • Settlement conferences will be held at Court but socially distanced.
  • No documents are to be handed up in Court and should be lodged via the Court portal prior to the hearing.
  • All criminal, civil and ERD Court matters will proceed as currently listed.

Measures:

  • New jury trials will resume in the District Court from 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 ERD Court matters will proceed as currently listed.
  • Masks must be worn in all court buildings including courtrooms. However, persons speaking for a protracted period of time will be excused and the mask can be removed.
  • 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

Arrangements from 22 November 2021

  • Masks must be worn in all court buildings including courtrooms. However, persons speaking for a protracted period of time will be excused and the mask can be removed.
  • Parties who believe they should be in self-isolation may be excused from attending court and should contact the court. 
  • No documents are to be handed up in Court. 
  • Where possible, parties should lodge documents via CourtSA.
  • 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. Where trials can proceed prosecution and defence are to appear in person.
  • Requests for attendance by AV link or telephone will be considered by Magistrates but possibly not deemed suitable for guilty pleas.
  • Defendants are not required to attend court unless they are to answer the charge.

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, e.g. 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 are continuing as scheduled.
  • The Court asks to be notified of any parties who are at high risk of serious illness should they be exposed to COVID-19 and will give priority to those matters where possible. 
  • For overnight arrest matters defendants will appear by AV link.
  • Defendants in custody will appear by AVL or telephone, with the exception of trials and Treatment Intervention Court where they will appear in person. 
  • 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
  • Administrative adjournments – first mention    
    • For a police prosecution, any request for an adjournment by a defendant or counsel will be allowed administratively if the request is submitted 2 working days before the hearing date.
    • Where there are multiple defendants, a request for an administrative adjournment will not be allowed unless it is made by all defendants.
  • Administrative adjournments – second mention 
    • Requests for an administrative adjournment of a second mention date will only be allowed if made by a solicitor.
  • Major indictable matters
    • The OPP and MIBU will appear in person from 12 August 2021. 
    • A request to adjourn a major indictable matter without attendance of counsel is at the discretion of the magistrate, and will require confirmation of the consent of MIBU (police prosecution) or the OPP.
    • The court will allow pleas to be entered through counsel in the absence of the defendant, provided a copy of the relevant Information with the following endorsement signed by the defendant is delivered by email to the court and the OPP at least one clear business day before the hearing.

Civil Proceedings

  • The Court may permit practitioners to appear by phone after the first directions hearing.
  • Parties and practitioners are encouraged to seek consent orders by email which can be made administratively without the need for attendance. 
  • 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

Arrangements from 23 November 2021

Attendance at court buildings or at conferences

  • Parties and practitioners are not to come to court if they have been in contact with a COVID-19 case, are required to isolate by SA Health or have COVID-19 symptoms.  
  • Masks must be worn in all court buildings including courtrooms. However, persons speaking for a protracted period of time will be excused and the mask can be removed.
  • No documents are to be handed up in Court.
  • Where possible, parties should lodge documents via electronic means.
  • Trial books and applications to be made electronically via email
  • 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
  • Hand sanitisers will be provided in every courtroom and conference venue.

Arrangements for court proceedings and conferences

  • Normal court listing arrangements to continue. 
  • The Court asks to be notified of any parties who are at high risk of serious illness should they be exposed to COVID-19 and will give priority to those matters where possible.
  • For overnight arrest matters:
    • Prosecution is to provide an Information with an apprehension report attached so that defence can obtain instructions quickly.
    • All youths will appear by AVL
  • Youths in custody will appear by AVL or telephone.
  • Trials that are unable to proceed due to COVID-19 restrictions will be adjourned.  
  • Where trials can proceed, prosecution and defence are to appear in person. 
  • In relation to Conferences, Department for Child Protection, SAPOL and Department for Education representatives are expected to appear in person whenever possible.
  • Generally, parties and practitioners are expected to attend court or conferences in person. However, permission to appear by telephone or AVL may be granted.
  • WebEx may be used to facilitate hearings or conferences. When used, the court or coordinator will email a meeting request to parties.
  • Conferences (Family Group, Education and Family) are to proceed adhering to practice guidelines. 
  • For police prosecution, any request for adjournment by a youth or counsel will be allowed administratively, with consent of the other party. 
  • For police or other prosecuting authority, prosecution where there are multiple youths, a request for an administrative adjournment will not be allowed unless it is made by all youths.

SACAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • Masks must be worn in all court buildings including courtrooms. However, persons speaking for a protracted period of time will be excused and the mask can be removed.
  • 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

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • From 3 May 2021 e-filing and e-lodgement using the eCourts portal is mandatory for all documents filed in civil appeals in the Court of Appeal. 
  • 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:

  • Directions, hearings and mediations will, where possible, be conducted by telephone, or video conference.
  • Where it is necessary and appropriate to do so, parties may be required to attend in person.
  • The manner in which final hearings are conducted (in person, by telephone or by video conference) will be determined by the presiding member.
  • If parties are required to attend a mediation or a hearing in person, social distancing measures must be observed within the mediation or hearing room, in the lifts, and in all public spaces in the SAT.
  • 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 the e-courts portal or by email, post or fax.
  • Priority will be given to Guardianship and Administration Applications or matters deemed urgent by Judges or Senior Members

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:

  • Anyone entering court buildings must register their name and contact phone number for COVID-19 contact tracing purposes.
  • 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 

Resumption of Court operations from 1 November 2021

In line with the ACT Government’s Pathway Forward, the Supreme Court and Magistrates Court will continue operations in line with special COVID-19 measures and court specific directions below. 

  • No entry allowed for people who are diagnosed with COVID-19, awaiting test results, required to quarantine or are close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • Only persons who have matters or immediate business with the court may enter the precinct.
  • Masks must be worn at all times, subject to exceptions.
  • Physical distancing of 1.5 m must be observed.
  • All persons must check-in using the Check-In CBR app. 
  • Registry counter is open for lodging documents, payments and enquiries.

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Staged return to Supreme Court operations from 1 November 2021

The Court will move to stage 2 of its pathway to resuming court operations on 1 November 2021 as follows:

  • The following registry services will resume:
    • Court registry counter
    • Court Collection Boxes
    • Library
  • The following registry services will cease:
    • Filing by email – no longer available other than by leave granted by the Registrar. Interstate solicitors will be expected to use the e-lodgement facility where available, file by post or engage a local agent to file on their behalf. 
    • Filing by post box in the court foyer – the Court’s post box in the court foyer will be removed as of 29 October 2021. 
    • Return of sealed documents – with the reopening of court registry counter and solicitor collection boxes, the return of sealed documents by email will cease other than in exceptional circumstances and where leave has been granted for the documents to be filed by email. 
  • Restrictions that will continue:
    • Appearance via AVL – all appearances in the Supreme Court will continue via AVL where appropriate to the circumstances of the case.
    • Access to the Courthouse – Access to the premises will continue to be subject to any orders made by the Chief Justice. 
    • In probate matters, all applications are to continue to be lodged via email. 

Magistrates' Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Staged return to Magistrates Court operations from 1 November 2021

The Court will move to stage 2 of its pathway to resuming court operations on 1 November 2021 as follows:

  • The following registry services will resume:
    • Court registry counter
    • Court Collection Boxes
    • Library
  • The following registry services will cease:
    • Filing by email – no longer available other than by leave granted by the Registrar. Interstate solicitors will be expected to use the e-lodgement facility where available, file by post or engage a local agent to file on their behalf. 
    • Filing by post box in the court foyer – the Court’s post box in the court foyer will be removed as of 29 October 2021. 
    • Return of sealed documents – with the reopening of court registry counter and solicitor collection boxes, the return of sealed documents by email will cease other than in exceptional circumstances and where leave has been granted for the documents to be filed by email. 

Criminal matters

  • Defendants in person for all sentences or hearings. Practitioners may continue to appear remotely.
  • Remote appearances for all other matters.
  • If legally represented, appear on the papers by agreeing the next steps, dates and directions or enter a plea

Civil matters

  • In person for all hearings unless leave granted to appear remotely.
  • Remote appearances for:
    • Registrar’s directions lists and listing hearings
    • Applications in proceedings
    • Enforcement list
    • Children’s Court conferencing
    • Return of subpoena list
    • Fair work conferencing and mediations
    • Taxation
    • Dispute resolution conferences

Protection unit

  • In person for all hearings unless leave granted to appear remotely
  • Remote appearances for:
    • Interim family violence/personal/workplace protection applications
    • Applications in proceedings
    • Protection unit pre-hearing mentions
    • Family violence and protection order conferences

Access to the courthouse

  • Access to the premises will continue to be subject to any orders made by the Chief Magistrate. 

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 open for enquiries
  • No face-to-face hearings will occur
  • All ACAT listings will continue unless told otherwise
  • Generally, listings will be via telephone or AV link
  • From 7 December 2021, applications about guardianship and management of property will be heard in person.
  • Mental health hearings for inpatients at the hospital are being heard in person. 
  • If a face to face hearing is required, an email application should be made to ACAT about why it is required. 
  • People attending ACAT’s premises must comply with social distancing rules, wear a mask, check in and leave ACAT as soon as they complete their business.

Northern Territory 

The following procedures will be adopted for matters listed in Darwin up to Thursday 19 August 2021.

Pre-trial hearings, mentions and directions hearings

  • The Presiding Judge’s Associate will make contact with the parties to arrange for the matter to be heard by AV link or telephone, or for the matter to be adjourned.
  • Where it is a criminal matter, the accused will be excused from attending if legally represented.

Guilty pleas

  • Where the accused is remanded in custody, they will appear by AV link from prison.
  • Where the accused is on bail, they will appear in person unless the Presiding Judge has adjourned the matter and enlarged bail.
  • Any application for adjournment of guilty pleas should be notified by telephone to the Presiding Judge’s Associate.

Jury trials

  • At this point, jury trials listed in the week commencing Monday, 23 August 2021 will proceed.

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

Darwin Local Court:

  • From Friday 20 August 2021 business as usual will commence and the front counter at Nichols Place will be open.
  • All entrants to court houses will need to check in by QR code.
  • Masks must be worn within the building and when unable to physically distance. 
  • The only people physically present the court cells will be those in custody for a hearing and first appearances in custody (if there is sufficient room). 
  • Should counsel wish to appear by AVL, they should advise the relevant registry as soon as possible. 
  • The court will return to the previous ‘on-country bail application’ process, unless advised it is not safe to do so.

Katherine Local Court:

  • From Monday 23 August 2021 business as usual will commence and the front counter will reopen on Friday 20 August 2021. 
  • The Darwin Children’s Court Judge will hear any urgent care and protection applications by AVL.
  • All counsel, prosecutors and defence have leave to appear via AVL.
  • People in custody will appear from the prison or the watch house.
  • Urgent domestic violence orders will be dealt with by the Judge by AVL.
  • There will only be a skeleton staff at the Court house. 

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