COVID-19 and NZ courts updates: 17 February

The courts have updated their protocols with the country back under restrictions

COVID-19 and NZ courts updates: 17 February

With Auckland back under level 3 restrictions and the rest of New Zealand on alert level 2 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, judicial officials have provided updates on court protocols.

Courts 

Supreme Court

Chief Justice Dame Helen Winkelmann confirmed that the court will hear appeals and applications for leave to appeal that were set to take place in during the alert level 1 or 2 period. While proceedings will carry on as usual with all judges and counsel attending, those based in areas under alert level 3 or 4 or cannot safely travel to Wellington will be allowed to attend remotely via audio-visual link (AVL) as long as prior notice is given.

Documents must be emailed to the court by 4pm on the day before the hearing, and may not be handed up during the hearing.

The court will arrange for interested parties to view proceedings through AVL where possible, as only counsel and self-represented parties should appear in person.

Court of Appeal

In Wellington, proceedings will be held as normal, although parties have the option of attending oral hearings via approved AVL. In Auckland, hearings will take place through approved AVL until the alert level drops to 2.

Registry officers will not be present at the Auckland Court of Appeal for the week.

High Court

Winkelmann announced that the Auckland High Court will not commence new criminal jury trials before tomorrow, while ongoing jury trials would be suspended until then except in cases where the trial is in the deliberation stage.

Where a trial is in the deliberation stage, the court will be in touch with participants such as jurors. The schedule for judge-alone trials will be reviewed as well. The Auckland High Court will also review scheduled civil matters to determine whether they can proceed remotely.

Trials taking place outside Auckland will proceed as normal unless they cannot be safely conducted in accordance with level 2 mandates. In this case, the trials will be adjourned or stood down.

District Court

Criminal jury trials will not begin in the Auckland and Manukau District Courts before tomorrow, and the court has reinstated the level 3 and level 2 protocols implemented last August.

Employment Court

All proceedings will still be processed as usual. The court in Auckland remains open. However, hearings taking place in Auckland will be reviewed.

Maori Land Court

Some hearings will be held in person, and limited in-person services will be offered at the district offices. However, most proceedings will be undertaken on the papers or through phone and video conferencing.

Advisory services will be provided only through email, telephone and video conferencing.

Waitangi Tribunal

Most tribunal events will take place through phone and video conferencing or undertaken on the papers. While some hearings may be held in person, remote methods are preferred.

Environment Court

Proceedings will generally carry on as normal, as will mediation and expert conferences. However, remote appearances are preferred, and matters may also be settled on the papers.

Coroners Court

Hearings such as inquests are being considered on a case-by-case basis, according to Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall. They may take place in person at court or through AVL.

Ministry of Justice

The ministry has compiled information about COVID-19 protocols here.

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