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Coronavirus and the Courts

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

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

Easing of Restrictions in Regional Victoria - Message from the Chief Justice, 9 September 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.

  • The Victorian courts and VCAT will adjust their operations with the easing of restrictions in regional Victoria, excluding Greater Shepparton.
  • The Courts will use a mixture of in-person and remote hearings in regional locations. 
  • For the time being, VCAT will continue to conduct remote hearings only. 
  • COVID-Safe plans are in place in all locations for in-person hearings. 
  • There will be a considered approach to in-person hearings that would require travel of individuals from Melbourne into the regions. 
  • New jury trials will re-start in some regional locations in the week of 20 September, following COVID-Safe plans.
  • Arrangements in Metropolitan Melbourne remain unchanged.

Extension of August Covid-19 Restrictions - Message from the Chief Justice, 23 August 2021

  • The Victorian courts and VCAT will adjust their operations to reflect the further public health measures that have been introduced and the extension of lockdown conditions to the whole of Victoria.
  • The Victorian courts and VCAT will again implement their contingency plans in response to the restrictions.
  • The courts and VCAT will revert back to the arrangements during the May and July circuit breaker restrictions.
  • Urgent and priority matters which cannot be held remotely will be held in person. This applies now to regional Victoria, as well as metropolitan Melbourne.
  • The courts and VCAT will continue to hear as many matters as possible remotely. Some matters may be adjourned for a period of time.
  • Jury trials which are already underway will continue, following COVID-safe plans, although a few may be adjourned. 
  • Commencement of all new jury trials, including those in regional Victoria, will be suspended while lockdown conditions apply.
  • Please check the websites of each jurisdiction for jurisdiction-specific changes.

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 

August Lockdown Restrictions, 23 August 2021

  • Physical attendance for hearings in the Supreme Court will be limited to urgent and priority matters that cannot proceed remotely.
  • The arrangements under the Notice to the Profession issued on 17 May 2021 remain suspended.
  • No new jury trials will commence during the lockdown, but jury trials currently underway will continue.
  • COVID-Safety measures are in place across all buildings for on site attendances that are authorised. 
  • Public entrances will be open. QR recording systems remain in place at each building’s security screening area.
  • Face masks are required to be worn in all Supreme Court of Victoria buildings, subject to the exemptions.
  • Masks can be provided at the security screening point if required.
  • The Supreme Court Registry and Probate Office remain operational. Please telephone ahead to discuss alternatives to in-person attendance or to make an appointment if attendance is essential.

Measures:

  • The court has introduced measures to enable it to adjust between hearing matters remotely or on-site.
  • The Court will continue to use a mixture of virtual and in-person hearings.
  • Masks must be worn and can be provided at the security screening point if required.
  • The Court will continue to encourage attendance at a Supreme Court Registry or the Probate Office by appointment.
  • COVID-Safety measures remain in place across all buildings. Public entrances will be open. 
  • QR recording systems remain in place at each building’s security screening area.
  • Information about virtual hearings is available on the Court’s website.
  • All admissions to occur ‘on papers’ until further notice. 

Criminal Division

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

Jury Trials

  • No new Melbourne based jury trials will commence during the lockdown.

Resumption of regional jury trials

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

Fast Tracked Homicide cases

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

Judge Alone Trials

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

Civil Matters

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

Commercial Court

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

Practice Court (Common Law)

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

Court of Appeal

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

Probate Office – Original Will Requirements

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

Personal service and subpoenas

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

Regional court work and circuit sittings:

  • The Court will work with parties to hear matters remotely via telephone and AV link to minimise intrastate travel.
  • Criminal pleas and sentencing for circuit matters will be heard via telephone or AV link.
  • It may be appropriate for civil jury trials to be heard as causes. The Court will work with parties to process matters in the circuit list.
  • Mediation services and hearings will continue via telephone or AV link.
  • The Court of Appeal will work with parties to conduct hearings via telephone or AV link.

County Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Update on criminal jury trials and non-jury trial work, 23 September 2021

Regional Victoria circuit including jury trials

  • Consistent with the easing of restrictions in certain parts of regional Victoria, the Court resumed circuits at the following locations from 20 September 2021:
    • Latrobe Valley
    • Mildura
    • Warrnambool
    • Wodonga
  • The Court did not resume circuit at Geelong as anticipated due to the lockdown which commenced from 19 September 2021. The Court will resume circuit at Geelong after restrictions are lifted. 
  • The Court resumed circuits in Ballarat from 27 September 2021. 
  • The Court aims to resume sitting at Shepparton from 18 October 2021.
  • The modified jury trial procedures to meet density quotient and physical distancing requirements will continue to apply.
  • The Court has released a document 'COVID-19 response: circuit criminal jury trials where physical distancing required – guide for the profession and court users' which sets out the necessary modified procedures.

Melbourne

  • Jury trials in metropolitan Melbourne remain suspended. Under the current road map, jury trials will not resume in Melbourne before 26 October 2021. 
  • The operational court settings that have been in place since 18 August 2021 remain as follows:
    • Only matters of urgency or priority can be conducted by the Court onsite where there is no reasonable alternative.
    • Onsite attendance by any practitioner or court user will be by exception and require approval of the Chief Judge, coordinated through the chambers of the presiding judge.
    • Parties with matters listed during the lockdown period should contact the chambers of the presiding judge in the event of any uncertainty.

Masks

  • Mask setting 1 applies to criminal jury trials on circuit. This means all trial participants (including the judge and counsel) must wear a mask.
  • Mask setting 2 applies to non-jury matters at Melbourne and on circuit provided the overall number of court users in the courtroom are at a minimum. This means:
    • Those in a speaking role are not required to wear a mask, but all other court users must wear a mask.
    • Where in-person attendance of a large number of court users may be necessary, mask wearing by all court participants (including those in a speaking role) will be required. 

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.

Remote Hearings

  • Directions hearings will continue to be conducted via videolink unless the presiding judicial officer requires onsite appearances. 
  • As of 18 August 2021, all hearings listed in Melbourne will proceed as remote hearings, unless the Duty Judge or presiding Judge is satisfied that it is necessary and in the interests of justice to proceed in person.
  • Participants appearing remotely at a hearing are taken to be appearing as though they are present at Court.  
  • If a party considers that it is necessary and in the interests of justice for the matter to proceed in person, that party must give notice of this issue to the Court as soon as possible. 
  • 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. 

Juries

  • Under the current restrictions, civil jury trials cannot commence in Melbourne or circuit locations. 
  • Where a party wishes to retain the right to trial by jury, the party must give notice to the Court and each other party with a brief outline of reasons. 
  • The mode of trial will be determined by the Duty Judge in chambers on the basis of written submissions. 
  • If the Duty Judge considers it necessary, it will be listed for a directions hearing for oral submissions. 

Circuits

  • Where a regional court is able to accommodate a civil circuit onsite, parties will be informed at the call over of the circuit. 
  • Where this is not possible, the circuit cases will be heard as remote hearings.
  • The expectations for remote hearings above apply to remote civil circuits. 

Commercial Division

The following arrangements will apply to matters in the Commercial Division due to the lockdown restrictions announced on 5 August 2021, until such restrictions are eased.

  • 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.
  • It is anticipated that all hearings will proceed as remote hearings, irrespective of their length.
  • If a party considers that a matter is not suitable to proceed as a remote hearing, that party must give notice to the Court.
  • All Judicial Resolution Conferences will be conducted remotely via video conferencing software, unless this is inappropriate.
  • 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.
  • All Commercial Division trials will continue to be conducted via remote eTrial until further notice.
  • All proceedings will be listed for a pre-trial directions hearing by Zoom.
  • Parties must comply with the Commercial Division Court Book Guidelines as to the preparation of Court Books for eTrials and eHearings.
  • Parties will be advised via email as to when judgment will be delivered. Judgments will usually be delivered via AV link.
  • The hearing expectations are the same as in the Common Law Division. 
  • Circuits will continue, where possible, as remote eTrials.

Juries

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

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-19 Lockdown Arrangements, 13 October 2021 - Practice Direction ‘X’ of 2021

  • Measures will remain in place until Monday, 25 October 2021.
  • All Magistrates’ Court venues across the state will remain open, but attendance is subject to this Practice Direction.
  • Urgent and priority matters will be heard remotely via the Online Magistrates’ Court (OMC). 
  • In-person attendance will only be permitted when directed by the court.
  • All other matters listed for remote appearances via OMC will continue to be heard. 
  • Practitioners and other court participants must appear remotely. No in-person appearances at court venues will be permitted for non-urgent/non-priority matters.
  • Attendance at a Magistrates’ Court venue must be by prior arrangement, with the exception of:
    • urgent family violence interim intervention order applications or 
    • where first remand hearings are unable to proceed remotely.
  • For matters presently listed to be heard in-person, parties should contact the relevant registry to arrange for the matter to be heard via OMC.
  • If a matter is ordered to be heard via OMC parties will be notified by email or SMS.
  • Where a matter is listed for in-person hearing at a regional court venue, parties must contact the relevant court venue on how and when the matter will proceed. 
  • All persons who attend court venues at the direction of the Court must wear a mask and adhere to social distancing. 
  • All participants with a matter listed in Koori Court must contact the court. The Court will advise how the matter will proceed. No attendance at court venues is permitted unless the Chief Magistrate has determined that the matter is urgent or a priority.
  • Urgent and priority civil matters will be heard remotely via OMC. 
  • All other civil matters listed for remote hearing via OMC will proceed as listed.
  • All WorkCover matters will continue to be determined ‘on the papers’ or via OMC.

Measures:

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

Diversion Hearings on the Papers

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

Criminal Matters 

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

Family Violence matters

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

WorkCover Hearings

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

VCAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

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

Children’s Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • 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 temporarily closed to the public until further notice. 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, until Tuesday 26 October 2021.
  • 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.
  • The Court remains open to support litigants and the profession through a range of online and phone services.

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 Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney registries are closed to visitors until further notice.

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

From 18 October 2021, the Court will recommence a limited number of live hearings on the following basis:

  • From Monday 18 October:
    • One live hearing per floor
    • Civil matters only, including appeals
    • No motions
    • Multiple parties allowed
    • Each party will be allowed three legal representatives, a client representative, and witnesses
    • No in-person media or members of the public.
  • From Monday 25 October:
    • Two live hearings per floor
    • Civil matters including appeals, and expanded to include criminal appeals
    • Motions can be conducted in person with 20 minutes gaps between each matter
  • From early December (subject to review):
    • Three live hearings per floor
    • No limit to the number of legal representatives allowed to attend, subject to courtroom capacity limits.
  • Criminal jury trials will recommence at the end of October.
  • The registry public counter remains closed. 

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.

District Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement


The following court locations will resume new jury trials on 25 October 2021:

  • The Downing Centre
  • John Maddison Tower
  • Campbelltown
  • Gosford
  • Katoomba
  • Newcastle
  • Parramatta
  • Penrith
  • Wollongong 

The following regional courts will resume jury trials:

  • Taree on 11 October 2021
  • Orange on 11 October 2021
  • Goulburn on 18 October 2021
  • Port Macquarie on 25 October 2021
  • Dubbo on 25 October 2021, and
  • Queanbeyan on 1 November 2021. 

There will be no other personal appearances in the District Court until further notice.

The District Court encourages appearances by way of the AVL system (Virtual Courtroom) during periods of COVID-19 community transmission. 

    Legal practitioners who appear before the court using the Virtual Courtroom are expected to familiarise themselves with the Virtual Courtroom User Guide available on the District Court website. 

Measures 

Safety measures will be adopted combining pre-existing measures from last year and new enhanced measures in response to the Delta strain, including:

  • Fully vaccinated jurors
  • Routine rapid antigen testing
  • 4m2 capacity rule in courtrooms
  • Social distancing of jurors in the courtroom
  • Enlarged jury deliberation rooms and empanelment areas
  • Individualised jury meals, and 
  • Mandatory face mask wearing. 

Local Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement 

The following arrangements apply until 31 October 2021:

  • 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.  

Defended hearings where the defendant/accused is not in custody:

  • All defended hearings that require a witness to give evidence will no longer proceed between Monday 11 October 2021 until 31 October 2021, unless parties make prior application to the court. 
  • Hearings that do not require the physical attendance of witnesses (other than the accused) may proceed.

Defended hearings where the defendant/accused is in custody:

  • Criteria 1 - hearings can proceed if all witnesses are available and able to give evidence remotely and only the prosecutor and legal representative are to be in person in the court room.
  • Criteria 2 - hearings can proceed by consent of all parties if the detainee appears by AVL from the Corrective Services facility, some witnesses can appear in person or via AVL, and the prosecutor and legal representative to be in person in the court room. 
  • Criteria 3 – hearings can proceed by consent and on advice from Corrective Services that transport can be facilitated on the date of listing.

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 31 October 2021. 

Matters listed for sentence

  • All matters (where the accused is not in custody) that are likely to result in a custodial sentence are to be adjourned to a date after the current public health order. 
  • Wherever possible the matters that are not likely to result in a custodial sentence will proceed. 

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. 

List matters 

  • 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.

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

  • 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. 

annoucnmentLatest announcement 

Court listings

  • Travel for judicial officers located in Greater Sydney, Central Coast and the Illawarra is currently suspended.
  • Judicial officers will resume travel on Children’s Court circuits on 1 November 2021.
  • Most hearings listed between 28 June 2021 and 29 October 2021 in Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Illawarra will be vacated. 
  • You should not attend court for a hearing in the following locations: Parramatta, Surry Hills, Campbelltown, Port Kembla, Katoomba, Windsor, Sutherland and Woy Woy. 
  • Any hearings that proceed in these locations will be by video conference.
  • Cases will continue to be listed for case management directions. Parties are excused from attending court if they are represented by a lawyer. 
  • Cases will be dealt with by phone or video conference where possible.

Measures:

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

Criminal Jurisdiction

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

Care jurisdiction

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

Coroners Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement 

The following procedures apply from 28 June 2021 to 29 October 2021:

  • Masks must be worn in the Forensic Medicine and Coroners Court Complex at Lidcombe.
  • All hearings listed between 28 June 2021 to 29 October 2021 will be adjourned to a future hearing date unless they can proceed via AVL.
  • All parties, legal representatives and family members are to appear via AVL or audio link.
  • 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 23 August 2021:

  • There will be no in-person hearings until lockdown restrictions are lifted.
  • Matters will proceed by AV link or telephone if possible.
  • There will be no in-person registry counter service at NCAT Registries until lockdown restrictions are lifted.
  • Face masks are now compulsory in all NCAT premises.
  • Do not attend an NCAT registry if you do not need to. 

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.
  • 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.

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 21 July 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.
  • 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 28 July 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 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 10 August 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. If you reasonably believe you should self-isolate
    • If you do not intend to attend court for this reason, you must contact the court
  • Parties and practitioners must maintain a 1.5 metres distance
  • No documents are to be handed up in Court
    • Where possible, parties should lodge documents via CourtSA
  • The Court has implemented health and safety measures in court buildings

Criminal Proceedings

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

Youth Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

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

SACAT

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • 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:

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

Tasmania 

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

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

Magistrates Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Measures:

  • 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 

Arrangements during COVID-19 lockdown from 12 August 2021

  • Anyone required to quarantine according to government directions must not come to court and must contact registry to make other arrangements. 
  • Only persons who have matters before or immediate business with the court may enter the precinct.
  • Masks must be worn at all times.
  • Physical distancing of 1.5 m must be observed.
  • All persons must check in when entering a court building.
  • Documents can be filed in one of the following three ways:
    • by submitting hardcopy documents in a sealed envelope in the relevant post box in the foyer of the Courts building
    • by eLodgement (if you are a legal practitioner)
    • via email to the relevant section in the Registry
  • The registry counter will be closed for all civil and criminal filing of documents. The counter is also closed for enquiries, except for protection matters.

Supreme Court

annoucnmentLatest announcement

Arrangements during COVID-19 lockdown from 12 August 2021

  • All Supreme Court and Court of Appeal matters will proceed via AV Link where appropriate. 
  • Parties may make a request to appear by telephone or AV link by emailing or telephoning registry.
  • In probate matters all documents (except the original will) are to be lodged with the Court via email.

Measures:

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

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

Magistrates' Court

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Covid-19 Measures – Revised Arrangement (No 4), from 13 August 2021

  • For civil or criminal matters (other than protection matters) parties may choose one of the following options:
    • Seek an adjournment
    • Appear as listed
  • For appearances parties may:
    • Attend in person for sentences or hearings, unless the Court agreed and ordered otherwise
    • Attend court remotely via phone or video
    • If legally represented, appear on the papers by agreeing the next steps, dates and directions or entering a plea
  • Physical distancing requirements will apply to all matters that are heard in court. 
  • Applying for Family Violence Orders and Personal Protection Orders
    • During the Lockdown, anyone seeking an interim Family Violence Order or Personal Protection Order can file their application via email or hard copy at the Court (via a secure lodgement box)
    • Applicants for interim FVOs or PPOs are not required to attend the Court in person and will appear remotely at the interim hearing of their matter.

Measures:

New Practice Direction takes effect from 14 September 2020.

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

Coroners Court

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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

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Measures:

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

Northern Territory 

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

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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

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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

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  • 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

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  • 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