Employment Court

  • Employment Court operations under Covid-19 Protection Framework

    Chief Judge Christina Inglis

    Effective from 26 April 2022

     

    1.  Courts are an essential service. The Employment Court will remain open at all levels under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (Protection Framework) to ensure access to justice.

    2.  This protocol sets out a framework for ensuring that everyone who needs to participate in proceedings is able to do so. It sets out practices to be applied by the Employment Court under the Red, Orange or Green levels of the Protection Framework. The primary considerations that underpin this protocol, and decisions under it, are the interests of justice and the protection of the health and safety of everyone in the Court building.

    3.  This protocol applies subject to any directions given by the presiding judge in a particular case. The presiding judge may direct that requirements set out in this protocol do not apply in a particular case if the judge is satisfied that it is in the interests of justice to do so.

    ENTRY TO COURT BUILDINGS

    4.  The following requirements apply to entry into court buildings:

    (i) A person may not enter the court building if they are showing signs of illness, or have a body temperature of 38 degrees or higher.

    (ii) A person who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is required to isolate may not enter the court building.

    (iii) A person who is a household contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 may not enter the court building unless they are authorised to do so as a critical worker.

    (iv) A person may not enter the court building unless they are wearing a surgical mask or a KN95 mask.[1] Masks will be provided at the entry to the court building for all those who do not have their own mask.

    5.  The courts remain open to the public, but for health and safety reasons there may be limits on the number of people who are not directly involved in proceedings who are physically present in courtrooms and court buildings.

    6.  Every person in the public areas of a court building must wear a surgical mask or a KN95 mask at all times. A KN95 mask must be worn by participants in any hearings if the presiding judge so directs. 

    7.  All physical distancing requirements must be observed.

    PROTECTION FRAMEWORK RED LEVEL

    8.  Employment Court business will be conducted using remote participation technology, where that is reasonably possible and is permitted by law.[2]

    9.  In-person hearings may take place if a judge decides that it is in the interests of justice to do so.

    10.  The question of whether the hearing takes place in person or by remote technology will be considered as part of a directions conference or, following a request from the relevant case officer, dealt with on the papers after receipt of representatives’ memoranda (whether joint or otherwise).

    11.  Notice of application to participate in person at hearings presumptively conducted by remote technology must be given at least five working days prior to the hearing.

    12.  New filings will be triaged according to priority.

    PROTECTION FRAMEWORK ORANGE LEVEL

    13.  At the Orange level, all hearings of one day or less are presumptively conducted by remote technology where permitted by law, and subject to the particular circumstances of an individual case, which may mean an in-person hearing would be in the interests of justice).[3]

    14.  All other matters will take place in person unless a judge directs otherwise. A party may seek a direction that a matter that is presumptively to be conducted in person should be conducted using remote technology, where that is desirable in the interests of justice and to protect health and safety in the courts. 

    15.  Where a hearing takes place in person, a party, counsel or other participant may apply to participate in the hearing by remote technology. Particular consideration will be given to any health vulnerabilities, the distance that would otherwise have to be travelled, and the likely length and complexity of the hearing.

    16.  Notice of application to participate in person at hearings presumptively conducted by remote technology must be given at least five working days prior to the hearing.

    PROTECTION FRAMEWORK GREEN LEVEL

    17.  The presumption is that all matters will be conducted in person. A party may seek a direction that a matter that is presumptively to be conducted in person should be conducted using remote technology, where that is desirable in the interests of justice and to protect health and safety in the courts. 

    18.  A party, representative or other participant may apply to participate in a hearing by remote technology.[4] Particular consideration will be given to any health vulnerabilities, the distance that would otherwise have to be travelled, and the likely length and complexity of the hearing.

    19.  Notice of application to participate by remote technology must be given at least five working days prior to the hearing.

    MEASURES APPLYING AT ALL PROTECTION FRAMEWORK LEVELS

    Attending Court

    20.  Where participants attend Court:

    (i) Witnesses required to attend Court should not enter the court building until just prior to their scheduled attendance;

    (ii) So far as possible, representatives should take instructions and brief witnesses at a different location from the court building. Rooms will be made available as far as practicable for interviews, and representatives may request breaks to take instructions safely using those facilities.

    21.  All participants attending Court for hearings longer than one day may be asked to take a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), or confirm that they have taken a RAT, on each morning before the Court hearing commences.  This requirement may also apply to participants attending court for hearings of half a day or longer, if the presiding judge so directs.  The Registry will advise representatives and any party who is not legally represented of the arrangements for testing for their particular case.  If the hearing extends beyond one week, the presiding judge may direct that in the second and subsequent weeks, RAT testing is only required on the Monday and then on every second sitting day.

    22.  If participants are asked to take a RAT, and any participant declines to do so, the presiding Judge will determine whether and how the hearing will proceed.  If any participant tests positive, the presiding Judge will determine on a case by case basis whether and how the hearing may be able to continue.

    Media access

    23.  Accredited news media will have entry to the Court in order to report Court proceedings, and to ensure continued open and transparent justice. Remote access for accredited news media will continue to be facilitated in accordance with current protocols.

    Remote participation and viewing

    24.  The Guideline for Appearing by Audio-Visual Link, including in Virtual Hearings will apply to any hearings involving remote participants:

    Guideline for Appearing by AVL

    25.  The Guideline for Remote Viewings of Hearings governs media and public access to hearings:

    Guideline for Remote Viewings of Hearings

    Health and safety

    26.  The following health and safety measures can be expected in the court building:

    (i) Cleaning products are available on site to enable staff and lawyers to keep their immediate areas clean (including AVL suites);

    (ii) Hand sanitiser will be readily available within the courtroom.

    27.  Any concerns about health and safety in the Court should be raised with the Court Registrar or the Manager Justice Services in the first instance.

    Expectations of Representatives

    28.  Representatives are expected to assist the Court by:

    (a)  Briefing clients and witnesses on the court building entry requirements and RAT testing requirements , as outlined above.

    (b) Reducing unnecessary attendances in the court building by representatives, their clients and witnesses by reviewing each attendance in advance and:

    (i) Seeking remote participation in appropriate cases; and

    (ii) Limiting the number of witnesses via the use of agreed facts.

    (c)  Representatives should consider and endeavour to agree whether it is appropriate for any witness to participate remotely and advise the Court of any such proposals well in advance of the hearing date. The relevant provisions of the Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010, will govern whether and how any witness may give evidence remotely.  Also refer to the Summary of Guidelines for a witness giving evidence by AVL.

    Filing and filing fees

    29.  Documents may be filed electronically, by post, courier or in person. Address details are contained in Addendum 1. 

    30.  Filing fees are payable. An online “file and pay” system is available: Courts of New Zealand file and pay.

     

    ADDENDUM 1

    Registry contact details

    Auckland

    Registrar: Mima Bobot

    Level 2, 41 Federal Street, Auckland (cnr Federal and Wyndham Streets)

    Phone: 09 916 6359
    Email: mima.bobot@justice.govt.nz
    Emergency phone: 027 295 6673

    Electronic filing to be sent to: mima.bobot@justice.govt.nz
    Postal: Employment Court, DX CX 10086, Auckland

    Wellington and Christchurch

    Registrar: Joseph Buckton
    Level 5, District Court Building, 43-49 Ballance Street, Wellington

    Phone: 04 918 8313

    Email: joseph.buckton@justice.govt.nz

    Emergency phone: 021 946 790     

    Electronic filing to be sent to: joseph.buckton@justice.govt.nz

    Postal: Employment Court, DX SX 10009, Wellington

      

    [1]      (i)    All references to KN95 masks include references to masks of an equivalent standard such as P2 masks.

              (ii)    People who have a mask exemption card issued by the Ministry of Health will not be required to wear a mask.

              (iii)   A Judge may permit a participant in a hearing to remove their mask when speaking.

    [2]     See also Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010, ss 5 and 7.

    [3]     See also Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010, ss 5 and 7.

    [4]     For relevant factors see the Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010, ss 5 and 7.

     

     

     

  • Employment Court operations under Covid-19 Protection Framework

    Chief Judge Christina Inglis

    Effective from 5 April 2022

     

    1.  This Protocol sets out practices to be applied by the Employment Court under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights) (Protection Framework).   

    2.  Courts are an essential service and the Employment Court will remain open at all three levels under the Protection Framework to ensure access to justice. This protocol sets out a framework for ensuring that everyone who needs to participate in proceedings is able to do so.  The primary considerations that underpin this protocol, and decisions under it, are the interests of justice and the protection of the health and safety of everyone in the Court building.

    3.  In locations where the Protection Framework practices have not been fully implemented, the relevant transitional Red, Orange and Green level protocols will apply to the extent necessary.

    PROTECTION FRAMEWORK RED LEVEL

    4.  Employment Court business will be conducted to the extent possible by remote participation including AVL or other remote means.

    5.  In-person hearings may take place if a Judge decides that it is in the interests of justice to do so.

    6.  Notice of application to participate in person at hearings presumptively conducted by remote technology must be given at least five working days prior to the hearing.

    7.  The question of whether the hearing takes place in person or by remote technology will be considered as part of a directions conference or, following a request from the relevant case officer, dealt with on the papers after receipt of representatives’ memoranda (whether joint or otherwise).

    8.  New filings will be triaged according to priority.

    PROTECTION FRAMEWORK ORANGE LEVEL

    9.  At the Orange level, all matters are presumptively conducted by remote technology (subject to the particular circumstances of an individual case which may mean an in-person hearing would be in the interests of justice).[1]

    10.  Notice of application to participate in person at hearings presumptively conducted by remote technology must be given at least five working days prior to the hearing.

    11.  For all matters, the question of whether the hearing takes place in person or by remote technology will be considered as part of a directions conference or, following a request from the relevant case officer, dealt with on the papers after receipt of representatives’ memoranda (whether joint or otherwise).

    PROTECTION FRAMEWORK GREEN LEVEL

    12.  The presumption is that all matters will be conducted in person.

    13.  Representatives and parties may apply to participate in a hearing by approved remote technology. Particular consideration will be given to any health vulnerabilities of participants, the distance that would otherwise have to be travelled and the likely length and complexity of the hearing.

    14.  Notice of application to participate by remote technology must be given at least 10 working days prior to the hearing.

    MEASURES APPLYING AT ALL PROTECTION FRAMEWORK LEVELS

    Attending Court

    15.  Where participants attend Court:

    (i) Witnesses required to attend Court should not enter the courthouse until just prior to their scheduled attendance;

    (ii) So far as possible, representatives should take instructions and brief witnesses at a different location from the courthouse. Rooms will be made available as far as practicable for interviews, and representatives may request breaks to take instructions safely using those facilities.

    16.  All participants attending Court for hearings longer than one day may be asked to take a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) on each morning before the Court hearing commences, unless the presiding judge directs that this is not required.[2] This requirement may also apply to participants attending court for hearings of half a day or longer, if the presiding judge so directs. The Registry will advise representatives and any party who is not legally represented of the arrangements for testing for their particular case.  If participants are asked to take a RAT, and any participant declines to do so, the presiding Judge will determine whether and how the hearing will proceed.  If any participant tests positive, the presiding Judge will determine on a case by case basis whether and how the hearing may be able to continue.

    Media access

    17.  Accredited news media will have entry to the Court in order to report Court proceedings, and to ensure continued open and transparent justice. Remote access for accredited news media will continue to be facilitated in accordance with current protocols.

    Remote participation and viewing

    18.  The Guideline for Appearing by Audio-Visual Link, including in Virtual Hearings will apply to any hearings involving remote participants:

    Guideline for Appearing by AVL

    19.  The Guideline for Remote Viewings of Hearings governs media and public access to hearings:

    Guideline for Remote Viewings of Hearings

    Health and safety

    20.  The Courts remain open to the public, but for health and safety reasons there may be limits on the number of people who are not directly involved in proceedings who are physically present in courtrooms and Court buildings. All physical distancing requirements must be observed.

    21.  Subject to the notes set out below,[3] and the over-riding discretion of the presiding Judge:

    (i) Court attendees must wear a surgical mask or a KN95 (or equivalent) mask at all times within the court precincts.

    (ii) All participants in proceedings considered by the presiding judge to be high risk must wear a KN95 (or equivalent) mask at all times within the court precincts. These will be provided if required. 

    22.  The following health and safety measures can be expected in the courthouse:

    (i) Access will be denied to anyone who is showing signs of illness, or has a body temperature of 38 degrees or higher.

    (ii) Access will be denied to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is required to isolate, or who is a household contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19;

    (iii) Appropriate masks will be provided at the entry to the courthouse for all those who do not have their own mask;

    (iv) Cleaning products are available on site to enable staff and lawyers to keep their immediate areas clean (including AVL suites);

    (v) Hand sanitiser will be readily available within the courtroom.

    23.  Any concerns about health and safety in the Court should be raised with the Court Registrar or the Manager Justice Services in the first instance.

    Expectations of Representatives

    24.  Representatives are expected to assist the Court by:

    (a)  Briefing clients and witnesses on the health and safety measures in the courthouse, as outlined above.

    (b)  Reducing the need for attendance in the courthouse by representatives, their clients and witnesses by reviewing each attendance in advance and:

    (i) Seeking remote participation in appropriate cases; and

    (ii) Limiting the number of witnesses via the use of agreed facts.

    (c)  Representatives should consider and endeavour to agree whether it is appropriate for any witness to participate remotely and advise the Court of any such proposals well in advance of the hearing date. The relevant provisions of the Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010, will govern whether and how any witness may give evidence remotely.  Also refer to the Summary of Guidelines for a witness giving evidence by AVL.

    Filing and filing fees

    25.  Documents may be filed electronically, by post, courier or in person. Address details are contained in Addendum 1. 

    26.  Filing fees are payable. An online “file and pay” system is available: Courts of New Zealand file and pay.

     

    ADDENDUM 1

     

    Registry contact details

    Auckland

    Registrar: Mima Bobot

    Level 2, 41 Federal Street, Auckland (cnr Federal and Wyndham Streets)

    Phone: 09 916 6359
    Email: mima.bobot@justice.govt.nz
    Emergency phone: 027 295 6673

    Electronic filing to be sent to: mima.bobot@justice.govt.nz
    Postal: Employment Court, DX CX 10086, Auckland

    Wellington and Christchurch

    Registrar: Joseph Buckton
    Level 5, District Court Building, 43-49 Ballance Street, Wellington

    Phone: 04 918 8313

    Email: joseph.buckton@justice.govt.nz

    Emergency phone: 021 946 790     

    Electronic filing to be sent to: joseph.buckton@justice.govt.nz

    Postal: Employment Court, DX SX 10009, Wellington

     

    [1]             See also Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010, ss 5 and 6.

    [2]          This will be rolled out to all courts, but will not be in place in some courts as at 5 April 2022. 

    [3]         (i)    People who have a mask exemption card issued by the Ministry of Health will not be required to wear a mask.

              (ii)    Leave may be given to court attendees to remove their mask when speaking.

     

    Employment Court Covid-19 Protocol effective 5 April 2022 (PDF, 92 KB)

     

     

  • Employment Court operations under Covid-19 Protection Framework

    Chief Judge Christina Inglis

    9 February 2022

     

    1.  This Protocol sets out practices to be applied by the Employment Court under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights) (Protection Framework). These practices are expected to be largely operational by 14 February 2022 but may be implemented incrementally in courthouses throughout the country as and when it is practicable to do so. 

    2.  Courts are an essential service and the Employment Court will remain open at all three levels under the Protection Framework to ensure access to justice. This protocol sets out a framework for ensuring that everyone who needs to participate in proceedings is able to do so.  The primary considerations that underpin this protocol, and decisions under it, are the interests of justice and the protection of the health and safety of everyone in the Court building.

    3.  In locations where the Protection Framework practices have not been fully implemented, the relevant transitional Red, Orange and Green level protocols will apply to the extent necessary.

    PROTECTION FRAMEWORK RED LEVEL

    4.  Employment Court business will be conducted to the extent possible by remote participation including AVL or other remote means.

    5.  In-person hearings may take place if a Judge decides that it is in the interests of justice to do so.

    6.  Notice of application to participate in person at hearings presumptively conducted by remote technology must be given at least five working days prior to the hearing.

    7.  The question of whether the hearing is in person or by remote technology will be considered as part of a directions conference or, following a request from the relevant case officer, dealt with on the papers after receipt of representatives’ memoranda (whether joint or otherwise).

    8.  New filings will be triaged according to priority.

    PROTECTION FRAMEWORK ORANGE LEVEL

    9.  At the Orange level, all matters are presumptively conducted by remote technology (subject to the particular circumstances of an individual case which may mean an in-person hearing would be in the interests of justice).[1]

    10. Notice of application to participate in person at hearings presumptively conducted by remote technology must be given at least five working days prior to the hearing.

    11. For all matters, the question of whether the hearing is in person or by remote technology will be considered as part of a directions conference or, following a request from the relevant case officer, dealt with on the papers after receipt of representatives’ memoranda (whether joint or otherwise).

    PROTECTION FRAMEWORK GREEN LEVEL

    12. The presumption is that all matters will be conducted in person.

    13. Representatives and parties may apply to participate in a hearing by approved remote technology. Particular consideration will be given to any health vulnerabilities of participants, the distance that would otherwise have to be travelled and the likely length and complexity of the hearing.

    14. Notice of application to participate by remote technology must be given at least 10 working days prior to the hearing.

    MEASURES APPLYING AT ALL PROTECTION FRAMEWORK LEVELS

    Access to a Courthouse

    15. In order to access a courthouse, persons must: [2]

    (i) Show a vaccine pass; or

    (ii) Provide evidence of a negative PCR test administered within 48 hours of attendance; or

    (iii) Provide evidence of a negative rapid antigen administered within 24 hours of attendance.[3]

    16.  If a representative, party or other participant does not know they will meet the requirements for accessing a courthouse, they are to advise the Court at least 10 working days prior to the hearing so the means of participation can be considered and, if appropriate, arrangements made for remote participation. Refer below for provisions regarding the attendance of witnesses.

    Attending Court

    17.  Where participants attend Court:

    (i) Witnesses required to attend Court should not enter the courthouse until just prior to their scheduled attendance;

    (ii) So far as possible, representatives should take instructions and brief witnesses at a different location from the courthouse. Rooms will be made available as far as practicable for interviews, and representatives may request breaks to take instructions safely using those facilities.

    Media access

    18.  Accredited news media will have entry to the Court in accordance with the requirements for accessing courthouses in order to report Court proceedings, and to ensure continued open and transparent justice. Remote access for accredited news media will continue to be facilitated in accordance with current protocols.

    Remote participation and viewing

    19.  The Guideline for Appearing by Audio-Visual Link, including in Virtual Hearings will apply to any hearings involving remote participants:

    Guideline for Appearing by AVL

    20  The Guideline for Remote Viewings of Hearings governs media and public access to hearings:

    Guideline for Remote Viewings of Hearings

    Health and safety

    21.  Persons entering the Court building must register their attendance by scanning the QR code or by entering their details on a list maintained by the Registrar (or court taker, in the case of representatives).

    22.  The Courts remain open to the public, but for health and safety reasons there may be limits on the number of people who are not directly involved in proceedings who are physically present in courtrooms and Court buildings. All physical distancing requirements must be observed.

    23.  Subject to the notes set out below,[4] and the over-riding discretion of the presiding Judge:

    (i) Vaccinated court attendees and unvaccinated court attendees who have provided a negative COVID-19 test must wear a cloth mask, surgical mask or a KN95 (or equivalent) mask at all times within the court precincts.

    (ii) Unvaccinated court attendees who have not provided a negative COVID-19 test result, and all participants in proceedings considered by the presiding judge to be high risk must wear a KN95 (or equivalent) mask at all times within the court precincts. These will be provided if required. 

    24.  The following health and safety measures can be expected in the courthouse:

    (i) Access will be denied to anyone who is showing signs of illness, or has a body temperature of 38 degrees or higher, or has had close-contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19;

    (ii) Appropriate masks will be provided at the entry to the courthouse for all those who do not have their own mask;

    (iii) Cleaning products are available on site to enable staff and lawyers to keep their immediate areas clean (including AVL suites);

    (iv) Hand sanitiser will be readily available within the courtroom.

    25.  Any concerns about health and safety in the Court should be raised with the Court Registrar or the Manager Justice Services in the first instance.

    26.  In the event of community transmission within a courthouse catchment area, public health advice will be taken and further directions given.

    Expectations of Representatives

    27.  Representatives are expected to assist the Court by:

    (a)  Advising the Court at an early stage if they become aware that alternative measures are likely to be required for their client’s attendance at the hearing because they do not meet the requirements for entry to a courthouse.

    (b)  Briefing clients and witnesses on the health and safety measures in the courthouse, as outlined above.

    (c)  Reducing the need for attendance in the courthouse by representatives, their clients and witnesses by reviewing each attendance in advance and:

    (i) Seeking remote participation in appropriate cases; and

    (ii) Limiting the number of witnesses via the use of agreed facts.

    (d)  Representatives should consider and endeavour to agree whether it is appropriate for any witness to participate remotely and advise the Court of any such proposals well in advance of the hearing date. This should include consideration of any witness unable to attend Court by reason of the requirements set out above.  The relevant provisions of the Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010, will govern whether and how any witness may give evidence remotely.  Also refer to the Summary of Guidelines for a witness giving evidence by AVL.

    Filing and filing fees

    28.  Documents may be filed electronically, by post, courier or in person. Address details are contained in Addendum 1. 

    29.  Filing fees are payable. An online “file and pay” system is available: Courts of New Zealand file and pay.


    ADDENDUM 1

    Registry contact details

    Auckland

    Registrar: Mima Bobot

    Level 2, 41 Federal Street, Auckland (cnr Federal and Wyndham Streets)

    Phone: 09 916 6359
    Email: mima.bobot@justice.govt.nz
    Emergency phone: 027 295 6673

    Electronic filing to be sent to: mima.bobot@justice.govt.nz
    Postal: Employment Court, DX CX 10086, Auckland

    Wellington and Christchurch

    Registrar: Joseph Buckton
    Level 5, District Court Building, 43-49 Ballance Street, Wellington

    Phone: 04 918 8313

    Email: joseph.buckton@justice.govt.nz

    Emergency phone: 021 946 790     

    Electronic filing to be sent to: joseph.buckton@justice.govt.nz

    Postal: Employment Court, DX SX 10009, Wellington

     

    [1]             See also Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010, ss 5 and 6.

    [2]             Nothing in this protocol will prevent the attendance at Court of any person required to attend Court, for example pursuant to a summons, legislative requirement or judicial direction, who does not meet the requirements in this paragraph. Appropriate health and safety measures will be put in place.

    [3]             The Ministry of Justice will meet the cost of the rapid antigen test for any person required to attend Court, for example pursuant to a summons, legislative requirement or judicial direction.

    [4]         (i)    People who have a mask exemption card issued by the Ministry of Health will not be required to wear a mask.

                 (ii)    Leave may be given to court attendees to remove their mask when speaking.

     

     

  • Chief Judge Christina Inglis 

    3 December 2021

    This protocol applies to all regions from Monday 6 December 2021 until further notice.

    It is anticipated that a new protocol will be in place from February 2022, covering the way the Employment Court then will operate under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system). 

    In the meantime, the Protocol dated 6 September 2021 will continue to apply, with the Court operating as under Alert Level 3 in all regions covered by the red traffic light, and as under Alert Level 2 in all regions covereded by the orange traffic light. 

    Registry contact details

    Auckland

    Registrar:  Mima Bobot

    Phone: 09 916 6359
    Email: mima.bobot@justice.govt.nz
    Emergency phone: 027 295 6673

    Electronic filing to be sent to: mima.bobot@justice.govt.nz
    Postal: Employment Court, DX CX 10086, Auckland

    Wellington and Christchurch

    Registrar:  Joseph Buckton
    Phone: 04 918 8313

    Email: joseph.buckton@justice.govt.nz
    Emergency phone: 021 946 790   

    Electronic filing to be sent to: joseph.buckton@justice.govt.nz
    Postal: Employment Court, DX SX 10009, Wellington

     

    Chief Judge Christina Inglis

    6 September 2021  

    This protocol replaces the COVID-19 protocol issued on 28 August 2021 and applies from 11.59 pm on Tuesday 7 September 2021.

    Regions under Alert Level 4

    The following paragraphs apply to any regions under Alert Level 4.

    1.  All new matters will continue to be referred to a Judge and will be prioritised in the usual way.  Parties are reminded of the ability to apply for urgency under cl 21 of sch 3 to the Employment Relations Act 2000.  Any application should be supported by a full explanation as to why urgency is sought.

    2.  Although the Courts remain open, most hearings will need to be rescheduled as the Court is only hearing priority matters.  Even with priority matters, it is unlikely in-person hearings will be conducted.  Some such matters may be appropriately dealt with on the papers or heard remotely, for example by Virtual Meeting Rooms (VMR), a web-based videoconferencing system supported by the Ministry of Justice and Spark. 

    3.  Judges will assess all cases scheduled to take place during the continuation of Alert Level 4 and convene telephone conferences with the representatives to discuss next steps, including dealing with matters on the papers, by telephone or audio-visual link, or by adjournment.  Amendments to the High Court Rules, providing for the conduct of hearings by remote participation, should be noted.  These Rules, applied with any necessary modification, will likely guide directions and orders made by the Court (by virtue of reg 6(2) of the Employment Court Regulations 2000).  

    4.  In the unlikely event an in-person hearing is required at Alert Level 4, paragraphs 16 to 23 below will apply, except the steps taken by the Ministry of Justice to ensure the safety of those coming into courthouses during this time, are as described on its website at Alert Level 4.

    5.  Matters set down for hearing in the Employment Court are publicly notified on the Court’s website and via the Court’s Twitter account to enable those with an interest to contact the Registry if need be.

    6.  Updates will be sent out via the Court’s Twitter account (@EmploymentCourt). The Court’s webpage is being updated regularly.

    7.  All filing of Court documents in any region which is subject to Level 4 restrictions is to be by email or using File and Pay.[1]  If a party does not have the ability to file electronically, mail will still be checked periodically.  However, because of hygiene requirements, there will be a delay in processing documents received by post.  No documents will be received for filing in person at Court Registries.

    8.  Difficulties in service may be drawn to the attention of the Court to enable appropriate directions and orders to be made facilitating electronic service.

    9.  The Court will not generally accept unsworn affidavits, but may, in appropriate circumstances, direct that an affidavit that does not comply be accepted for filing and be read and used in a proceeding (refer HCR 9.73).  Practitioners may find it helpful to refer to guidance issued by the New Zealand Law Society.

    10. Participants should also feel free to contact the Registrar of the Employment Court directly for further guidance or clarification.  The contact details are below. 

    Regions under Alert Levels 2 and 3

    The following paragraphs apply to any regions under Alert Level 2 or Alert Level 3.

    Triaging 

    11. The Employment Court will continue to process all new and existing proceedings.  It remains open to hear matters, as appropriate, including in Auckland.  Parties are reminded of the ability to apply for urgency under cl 21 of sch 3 to the Employment Relations Act 2000. Any application should be supported by a full explanation as to why urgency is sought.

    12. All new matters continue to be referred to a Judge and are prioritised in the usual way. 

    13. The Judges will assess all proceedings that are set down for hearing during the interim period and will convene telephone conferences as necessary to discuss next steps.  Judges will consider whether a particular proceeding now should be dealt with on the papers, by remote participation, or by hearing in person.  It is likely that some hearings will need to be vacated and set down for a later date. 

    14. At Alert Level 3, any hearing will probably proceed remotely, rather than in-person.  Remote participation also is preferred at Alert Level 2, where appropriate. The Judges, however, will set down hearings in person where (1) alternative modes of hearing (for example, on the papers or via remote participation) cannot reasonably be accommodated; and (2) a hearing in person can be conducted safely; and (3) the Judge considers it appropriate to do so.

    15. Representatives should contact the Court Registrar (contact details below) if they wish to raise any particular matters, including in relation to matters that have been set down for hearing. 

    Hygiene in the Court

    16 All Courts have posters displaying the applicable NZ COVID Tracer QR code and paper records in place at the entranceway for attendees to record their attendance. People attending at Court are required to use them. 

    17. All those attending Courts are to wear face masks in public spaces and courtrooms (including representatives, parties and witnesses).  Attendees will be offered a face mask if they do not already have one.  A Judge may ask participants to remove masks when speaking.   

    18. Safe distancing will be observed in the courtroom, and people present will be required to maintain one metre social distancing, with alternate seats in public galleries taped off. Hand sanitiser will be available for use in all courtrooms.

    19. The Court will not normally permit documents to be handed up.  Documents that parties wish to produce should be scanned and shared by email at the appropriate time.

    20. The Ministry of Justice will continue to take steps to ensure the safety of those coming into courthouses during this time, as described on its website [Alert Level 3, Alert Level 2].    

    21. Any concerns about health and safety practices in the Court should be raised with the Registrar in the first instance.

    Expectations of representatives

    22.  Representatives are expected to assist the Court by:

    a.  Briefing clients and witnesses on public health messages, including:

    i)   Not to come to Court if unwell

    ii) To advise their representatives as early as possible if they are unable to attend Court

    iii)The social distancing, masking and attendance recording expectations in the courthouse and precincts

    iv) How exhibits will be handled in their case

    v)  The limits on attendance by support persons and members of the public.

    b.  Reducing the need for attendance in the courthouse by representatives, their clients and witnesses by reviewing each attendance in advance and seeking remote participation for appropriate cases and witnesses.  The Court may be able to accommodate witnesses giving evidence remotely where a good reason exists. This should be raised by counsel in the relevant directions conference.

    c.  So far as possible, taking instructions and briefing witnesses outside the courthouse.

    d.  Raising any deficiencies with cleaning, the availability of cleaning supplies or physical distancing with the site manager immediately.

    Community transmission response

    23.  It remains possible that a new cluster of COVID-19 community transmission may be confirmed within the location served by a courthouse.  In that event, the Court will rely on official advice.  Steps may be taken to reduce in-person attendances at the Court to help protect those working or appearing there.  The extent of any restriction will depend on the circumstances and official advice or notices.  The restrictions would be publicly notified in advance on the Court’s website and via Twitter (@EmploymentCourt).

    Filing/service/affidavits

    24.  All filing of Court documents should be by email, or by File and Pay, if possible.[2]  However, documents can be filed by post and Employment Court Registries will be open to receive filing in person where that is necessary.         

    25.  Filing fees under the Employment Court Regulations 2000 must be paid at the time documents are filed. 

    26.  Difficulties in service may be drawn to the attention of the Court to enable appropriate directions and orders to be made facilitating electronic service.

    27.  The Court will not generally accept unsworn affidavits, but may, in appropriate circumstances, direct that an affidavit that does not comply be accepted for filing and be read and used in a proceeding (refer HCR 9.73). 

    Access

    28.  Matters set down for hearing in the Employment Court, and to which the public would otherwise have access, will continue to be publicly notified on the Court’s website and via the Court’s Twitter account (@EmploymentCourt) to enable those with an interest to contact the Registry, so that appropriate access arrangements can be put in place.

    29.  Accredited news media will continue to have entry to the Court in order to report Court proceedings, and to ensure continued open and transparent justice.  Remote access for accredited news media, will continue to be facilitated in accordance with current protocols.  

    30.  The Court’s Twitter feed and web page continue to be updated regularly.

    31.  Participants should feel free to contact the Registrar of the Employment Court directly for further guidance or clarification.  The contact details are set out below.

    Regions under Alert Level 1

    The following paragraphs apply to regions under Alert level 1.

    32.  For regions under Alert Level 1 the Employment Court operations will, in general, be as normal.

    33.  The use of remote participation will remain available for use on application in appropriate cases.

    34.  If counsel, or other persons required or proposing to attend a hearing (for example, a party or a witness) are unwell, they should not attend Court.  If this applies, the presiding judge should be advised so that alternative arrangements for the appearance can be made.

    35.  All Courts have posters displaying the applicable NZ COVID Tracer QR code and paper records in place at the entranceway for attendees to record their attendance.  People attending at Court are expected to use them.

    36.  Face masks and hand sanitiser will be available in courts, and their use is encouraged.

    37.  The Ministry of Justice will continue to provide the hygiene measures described on their website [Alert Level 1]. 

    38.  Any concerns about health and safety practices in the Court should be raised with the Registrar in the first instance.

    Contact details

    Auckland

    Registrar:  Mima Bobot

    Phone: 09 916 6359
    Email: mima.bobot@justice.govt.nz
    Emergency phone: 027 295 6673

    Electronic filing to be sent to: mima.bobot@justice.govt.nz
    Postal: Employment Court, DX CX 10086, Auckland

    Wellington and Christchurch

    Registrar:  Joseph Buckton
    Phone: 04 918 8313

    Email: joseph.buckton@justice.govt.nz
    Emergency phone: 021 946 790   

    Electronic filing to be sent to: joseph.buckton@justice.govt.nz
    Postal: Employment Court, DX SX 10009, Wellington

    [1]             File and Pay — Courts of New Zealand (courtsofnz.govt.nz)

    [2]             File and Pay — Courts of New Zealand (courtsofnz.govt.nz)