COVID-19 and Australian courts and legal bodies updates: 27 April

Here are the latest updates from Australia’s courts and legal bodies as the coronavirus pandemic continues

COVID-19 and Australian courts and legal bodies updates: 27 April

Courts in all states and territories have updated their plans of action as the COVID-19 situation continues to impact the legal system.

Family Court of Australia

The court has published a guide to conducting virtual hearings and the use of Microsoft Teams for practitioners and litigants.

Documents may only be filed via email or fax, and may be signed electronically in the meantime. Unsworn affidavits may be accepted; alternatively, an authorised witness may witness to a document signing via Skype.

The court will seek to settle matters on the papers, by phone or remote access technology. Matters that must be heard in person may be vacated or adjourned.

Federal Circuit Court

Until 30 June, no in-person court appearances will be necessary.

New South Wales

District Court

Hearing dates will be vacated only with good reason, and parties looking to vacate must file a “notice of motion” with a supporting affidavit. Matters will be heard online, by telephone or audio-visual link (AVL). Cases before assistant registrars will be handled via email.

Jury trials remain suspended until 31 May, and will be rescheduled to the first available date after 5 September. Trials set for 1 June and onwards will not yet be vacated until two weeks before the date.

The court has set forth the satisfactory arrangements through which a non-custodial defendant can appear in court virtually.

Children’s Court

First appearance bail proceedings and urgent care applications in the Parramatta children’s court will be decentralised to hub locations.

Readiness hearings will be held to determine whether a matter can proceed safely.

Land and Environment Court

Conciliation conferences and hearings set between 21 April and 30 June will be held via telephone. Parties may also apply for an earlier listing date through the online court.

Victoria  

County Court

The criminal, common law and commercial divisions of the court posted changes to operations here.

Queensland

Supreme Court

With regard to matters involving informal wills, Chief Justice Catherine Holmes declared that under certain conditions, the court may disregard the requirement that a party must physically be in the presence of the testator.

Magistrates Court

The listing procedures for designated matters and urgent applications are presented here.

Western Australia

Court of Appeal

Criminal and civil appellants represented by a legal practitioner must file one hard copy (via the court office) and one soft copy (via Dropbox or OneDrive) of each of the white, blue and green appeal books pending the implementation of e-lodgement and e-filing systems.

South Australia

Supreme Court

The practice note regarding the witness of affidavits dated 16 April does not cover applications to the probate registry.

Magistrates’ Court

To limit the number of people at registry counters, documents should be filed electronically, by post or dropbox.

Tasmania

Magistrates’ Court

After hours courts will be held on weekends beginning 11am via Zoom effective 18 April.

With the exception of the Burnie registry, weekday after hours courts will continue to be held from Monday to Thursday at usual hours. The courts will be presided over by bench justices as normal as declared by chief magistrate Catherine Geason.

Hearings that may be conducted via AVL include proceedings in which a conviction or order can be imposed by a justice, and proceedings for sentences imposed in the court.

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