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Criminal and Family Courts Update –Courts proceeding during COVID-19

April 3, 2020

 

This is a snapshot of court system amidst of Covid-19. Please be advised that public access to courts is being limited for safety reasons. You can only enter the District Court or High Court for criminal proceedings if you are required or only priority proceedings. It is important that you contact your lawyer before the date your matter is scheduled to be heard in Court.

 

An update from Chief Justice informs that only priority proceedings to be heard. This means that only proceedings affecting the liberty of the individual or their personal safety and wellbeing, or proceedings that are time-critical, should be heard while we are at alert level 4.  

 

Secondly, the court will use remote participation predominantly to avoid the need for people to attend Court in person. Remote participation may involve AVL (Audio-Visual Link) where that is possible, you can also contact Ministry of Justice by 0800 COURTS.

 

Thirdly, the court attendance in District Court, Family Court, High Court and Court of Appeal may sometimes be required, safety is paramount. This means that personal attendances of defendants, prosecutors, lawyers and officers of the Court may be required in some cases and measures have been taken to achieve physical distance and to improve courthouse hygiene. ID is required to show for people permitted to enter the court. Again, we advise you to contact your lawyer if you require to attend in person.

 

Update from Family Law Section

 

Guidelines have been made available to give guidance and advice for family lawyers to help clients for family matters inclusive unsworn affidavits, electronic filing, remote hearings and electronic service. Please click link below for FAQs.

 

https://mcusercontent.com/78dd4a31ee758d41364cee18d/files/c1de3966-5a41-4663-b48a-49b63efc3f88/FAQs.pdf

 

The Family Court Rules 2002 urgently proposed amendments in term of when documents are filed (Rule 75), to allow for electronic filing (Rule 76), providing for electronic service (Rule 107), reliance on unsworn affidavits (Rule 162), authority to take affidavits (Rule 168) and streamlining urgent hearings (Rule 416U).

 

To summarise, the Court operates over this COVID-19 lockdown period and only for priority proceedings, remote participation is to be used predominantly, court attendance may sometimes be required, safety is paramount, filing by email only, filing fees may be waived.

Should you have any further questions in relation to your court matter, please contact us.

 

Stay Safe & Be Kind

 

 

 

 

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