COVID-19 and NZ courts updates: 27 April

More details shared about court protocols heading into alert level 3

COVID-19 and NZ courts updates: 27 April

In preparation for the reduction of New Zealand's alert level on the 28th to level 3, changes to court protocols have been announced.


Supreme Court

Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann announced that this court, along with the Court of Appeal, will still be conducting virtual hearings via a web browser-based videoconferencing system. Hearing schedules will continue to list the matters being heard.

No documents will be received in person, only by email or post.

Court of Appeal

All hearings resumed as of 20 April. For in-person hearings, strict social distancing and sanitation procedures will be observed.

The payment of filing fees will be postponed temporarily.

High Court

Chief High Court Judge Geoffrey Venning declared that the court will be operating with judges, associates and clerks from three home registries and from home. Circuit hearings will proceed remotely via audio-visual link (AVL) or telephone.

Criminal jury trials will not recommence before 3 August, and some matters with hearing dates set prior to 25 May will not be required to proceed. However, civil business that can be supported safely will carry on as usual.

District Court

Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu stated that the court intends to resume usual criminal and civil jurisdiction activity subject to staff capacity and health guidelines, with the exception of jury trials suspended until 31 July.

Parties may appear either in person or via AVL at the judge’s discretion except in judge-alone trials, where counsel must appear in person. Youth Court proceedings will be prioritised, and the Family Court will aim to resume scheduled works where possible.

Other powers accorded to judges and registrars are listed here.

Employment Court

All new and existing matters will be processed as normal, and the court will be open for hearings as appropriate, according to Chief Judge Christina Inglis. For in-person hearings, health guidelines will be followed.

Documents must still be filed electronically or by post. Unsworn affidavits may still be accepted as appropriate.

Maori Land Court

In-person hearings will not be held and offices will remain closed, as per Chief Judge Wilson Isaac. Documents may not be filed in person.

The court will determine matters on the papers where possible.

Environment Court

While not considered a category 1 priority service court, the court will be able to process time-critical and priority cases electronically. Documents must be filed by email or post.

Coroners Court

Chief Coroner Deborah Marshall has stated that most cases may be handled on the papers. Inquest hearings that proceed may be held via AVL.

Court Martial and Summary Appeal Court

The court will be open to handle priority proceedings as necessary.

Ministry of Justice

The ministry has updated its list of operational courts here, as well as protocols for court operations here.

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