Court Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic
For those who have matters presently before Courts or Tribunals should, by now, have been given notice of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic upon your matter. If not below is an outline of the various Courts and Tribunals responses to COVID-19 thus far.
NSW Local Court
The Local Court deals with a majority of criminal matters in NSW and many smaller civil claims. All criminal defended hearings, except for defendants in custody, are being vacated and relisted for mention in early May so as to set a new hearing date.
All serious sentence matters, being matters for which a sentence to a period of imprisonment are a realistic possibility, are being adjourned for at least 8 weeks with a further mention date to be set in order to assign a new hearing date.
At this time any matters adjourned to a further mention date for relisting, whether it be for hearing or for sentence, do not require a personal appearance of the defendant so long as they are legally represented.
People who are already in custody will have their matters heard but by way of audio visual link
likewise sentence proceedings for person in custody will proceed by way of audio visual link.
Less serious sentence matters are, at the time of publishing this article, still taking place though you should seek advice from your solicitor as to whether or not you are required to attend Court. In many instances your solicitor may be able to appear on your behalf or alternatively file submissions on your behalf.
ADVO matters that are not attached to criminal charges are being adjourned for a period of 3 months. Provisional Orders (those Orders granted on Police Application but have not yet been mentioned before a Court) can now be listed up to 6 months from the date the Order is made and will be listed at some future date to be notified to the parties.
In civil litigation matters, the parties will now appear via telephone and if no telephone arrangements are made the matters are to be adjourned to a later date.
District Court NSW
The District Court has announced that all criminal matters where the defendant is not in custody will be adjourned for review on or after 1 May 2020, though it is likely this date will be further extended. It is not expected that jury trials will resume until after October 2020.
Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia – Family Law
Chief Justice Alstergren has issued a statement dated 26 March 2020, (http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/about/news/mr260320) setting out a guide to parents for managing arrangements surrounding the care of children during the
COVID-19 response period.
Parents are encouraged to work collaboratively and to engage alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation. At this time matters already listed for hearing/trial are proceeding, however this may well be subject to change in coming weeks. Matters set for mention are being conducted primarily by telephone.
Registry services are now being provided remotely by telephone and online with urgent face-to-face services only provided after an initial phone assessment. Review of subpoenas is limited to urgent matters and those coming for trial within the next few weeks.
NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
All NCAT proceedings will now proceed by way of phone or online until further notice. For matters listed for hearing the Tribunal will proceed by way of telephone hearing, audio visual link hearing or on the papers alone.
If you have any questions or unsure of how the Court and Tribunal responses to COVID-19 will affect you legally, we would encourage you to contact your solicitor or give us a call on 02 6542 5566 so you get the necessary assistance.