3 April justice sector updates due to COVID-19

3 April justice sector updates due to COVID-19

Friday, 3 April 2020

Organisations across the justice sector are taking active steps to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

An update about courts and tribunal services across Victoria, correct as at 3 April 2020:

  • Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal will be conducting residential tenancy and guardianship matters only by phone, with all other matters being adjourned.
  • The Magistrates' Court of Victoria has announced all court venues remain open, but a range of non-urgent matters have been adjourned.
  • The Children’s Court is operating as usual, however, has put COVID-19 procedures in place including wherever possible, court users are not to appear in person but rather by audio visual link (AVL) or by telephone. 
  • The Chief Justice of Victoria is taking steps to minimise in-person appearances. Both the criminal and civil courts are moving to a position where appearances will be managed through the electronic and digital environment. There will be no new jury trials in the County and Supreme Courts and possible further measures. The Supreme Court’s registries remain open and operational, however, the Court will be encouraging attendance at a Supreme Court Registry or the Probate Office by appointment made via telephone. Applications for probate and administration must be sent by post. There are changes to the Costs Court Practise and orders admitting new lawyers to practise. There are also changes to the management of Crimes Mental Impairment (CMI) applications. The court user survey has also been postposed.
  • Supreme Court are fast-tracking homicide matters to try and relieve some of the pressures on the Magistrates’ and Children’s Courts.
  • The Administrative Appeals Tribunal is closed to all visitors until further notice. They are conducting hearings and conferences by video or telephone. They have also suspended the issuing of non-urgent summonses. 
  • The Federal Court has vacated all matters requiring in person attendance, however are still working in registries and remotely to provide services and support practitioners and litigants via phone and other online services.
  • The Family Court has announced that registry services will be provided remotely, by telephone and through other online services. In urgent circumstances, face-to-face services in a registry may be provided, but only after initial assessment via telephone. The have provided an update on parenting orders and COVID-19. They have also published a Joint Practice Direction - Special Measures in Response to COVID-19.
  • The High Court will not be sitting in Canberra or on circuit in the months of April, May and June. The question of future sittings will be reviewed in June.

There are also changes to services from many community legal centres, please refer to individual centres for details. 

The government’s limits on gatherings does not apply to public transport, courts and prisons, offices, factories and construction sites.

More information

Department of Health and Human Services information about COVID-19

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