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COVID-19 court updates for the legal profession
- High Court of Australia
The High Court will not be sitting in Canberra or on circuit in the months of April, May and June. The question of further sittings will be reviewed in June.
- Supreme Court and District Court of NSW
New jury trials are temporarily suspended while the empanelment process is reviewed and steps taken to seek to limit the close social contact among jurors.
- Supreme Court of NSW
The Court is responding to the developing COVID-19 pandemic by reviewing all operations to ensure all essential services are maintained and non-essential services continue for as long as practicable, consistent with health advice.
- District Court
The Court is urgently reviewing its operations in response to the developing Covid-19 pandemic and working closely with the Attorney General, the Department of Communities and Justice and NSW Health.
- Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia
The Courts operations have been significantly impacted by coronavirus, however they are continuing operations and performing vital work for Australian families. This includes developing a new protocol for face-to-face in court hearings, which is set out in the attached update and practices directions on:
The Hon Will Alstergren, Chief Justice Family Court of Australia, Chief Judge Federal Circuit Court of Australia, has issued a statement on Parenting Orders and COVID-19 to clarify that the Courts remain open to assist parties and to provide parents with some general guidance. However, it is understood that every family’s circumstances are different.
Whilst the Courts are currently heavily relying on telephone hearings, they are hoping to increase video conferencing capabilities as soon as possible. The Courts are also endeavouring to assist the profession in these challenging times and keep it informed of any developments as promptly as possible.
Changes have had to be made given the restrictions imposed by the government upon medical advice.
- Federal Court of Australia
The Federal Court has decided to close public-facing counters and cease face-to face services from Tuesday 24 March 2020. While the counters are closed, staff are still working in registries and remotely to provide services and support to practitioners and litigants via phone and other online services. The Federal court has been developing its capacity to hear matters remotely and home office capabilities of judges and staff. Read more
The Chief Justice’s most recent update to the profession is available here.
The Federal Court is conducting hearings using Microsoft Teams technology and has released a practitioners' guide for the use of this technology.
- Local Court of NSW
The Local Court has taken a number of steps to mitigate the potential exposure to the virus for people in the Court which will take effect from Monday 30 March 2020. Previous arrangements will be superseded.
The Chief Magistrate of the Local Court, the Hon Graeme Henson AM, has issued the following addendum to operational arrangements during COVID-19 pandemic (no 6). Read here.
- Children's Court
The Children’s Court of NSW is working hard to reduce the risks associated with the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and is continuing to follow guidelines implemented by the Federal and State Governments.
- Land and Environment Court
The Court has implemented measures to reduce the need for personal attendance by parties and keep the Court operational as far as possible.
In light of the current situation, NCAT has created a new Coronavirus (COVID-19) information web page. This page will serve as a single source of information for people looking for any changes or disruptions to NCAT services as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Workers Compensation Commission
The Workers Compensation Commission has made changes to hearing procedures in response to COVID 19.
- Office of the Registrar General (ORG)
The ORG has released information in relation to land transaction services in NSW. The dedicated webpage will be ORG’s source of regular updates.
- NSW Land Registry Services (NSW LRS)
NSW Land Registry Services (LRs) have introduced further social distancing measures which are available on their website.
Admission ceremonies for NSW lawyers have been temporarily suspended. Arrangements have been made so that candidates will be admitted from the date of their scheduled ceremony. Candidates will have an option to attend a later ceremony to celebrate their admission.
- ATO ‘one stop shop’ for essential tax and super information
The ATO has published a ‘one stop shop’ with essential tax and superannuation information on the COVID-19 stimulus measures. See also ATO COVID-19 FAQs
- Legal Aid
All Legal Aid advice services are now phone advice only.
- Administrative Appeals Tribunal
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal is closed to all visitors from Thursday 26 March 2020 until further notice. Services remain available to Tribunal users and you are encouraged to monitor the AAT website for further updates.