For the Profession – Update 1 April 2020

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For the Profession – Update 1 April 2020

The Chief District Court Judge confirms that all defendants who are in custody will appear before a Judge for all scheduled appearances during the Alert Level 4 period.

Whenever possible the appearance will be by AVL.

Until further notice, no witnesses for Judge Alone Trials or Pre-trial Applications are required to attend Court in person to give evidence. Instead, a call-over will be conducted.

The Chief District Court Judge has determined that applications made under the Returning Offenders (Management and Information) Act 2015 will be treated as priority proceedings. 

All court participants in the District Court are permitted to wear Personal Protective Equipment while appearing in court either in person or remotely, such as gloves and facemasks.

The following priority proceedings will be dealt with by a District Court Judge during the Alert Level 4 period:

  • Criminal: all scheduled appearances for all defendants in custody.
  • Youth: Arrests (first appearances); Secure care applications, Bail applications; Review of custody, CP (MIP), Early release hearing (see separate letter from Principal Youth Court Judge Walker.)
  • Family: Public Health Order applications; Without notice applications: Care and protection (s 67 and s 78 immediate uplift); Protection and related Orders (Family Violence Act); Care of Children applications (family violence related); Mental Health (applications for compulsory treatment orders); Other without notice applications: PPPR, PRA, Hague Convention; Substance Addiction (Compulsory Treatment); s 67 Care and Protection.
  • Civil: Injunctions, Harassment orders; Harmful digital communications; Returning Offenders applications, Tenancy Tribunal appeals against evictions.

Unless a case is in this category, the matter will be administratively adjourned to the next available date except in the case of Youth Court which will be adjourned on the papers for four weeks.

If AVL facilities are not available, the Duty Solicitor (or Duty Youth Advocate or Assigned Youth Advocate in Youth Court) must attend in person.

If facilities for the defendant to appear by AVL are not available, the defendant will appear in person.

In the Family Court, counsel are to appear by telephone or AVL, and if facilities are not available, in person.

In Civil cases, counsel can appear by telephone.

In addition, a number of courtrooms now have a Virtual Meeting Room facility for all counsel, court participants, and accredited media to participate in priority proceedings by AVL from their homes or offices. A Judge and Registrar will be in the courtroom but counsel are encouraged to appear by AVL whenever feasible.  Registries will advise when these VMR facilities are available.