High Court: Current COVID-19 Protocol


6 October 2020: Protocol, COVID-19 Alert Level 1

3 December 2020: Protocol COVID-19 Alert Level 2

Persons in isolation and quarantine

Remote hearings

Remote participation by witnesses in criminal hearings

Protocols during past alert levels


Protocol: COVID-19 Alert Level 1

Hon Justice S E Thomas
Chief High Court Judge – Te Kaiwhakawā Matua
6 October 2020

This protocol comes into effect at 11:59 pm on Wednesday 7 October.

1.  At Alert Level 1, the High Court will carry out all its usual scheduled work both from the home and circuit registries.

2.  Criminal and civil proceedings will, in general, return to normal operations subject to the terms of the orders made under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.

3.  Criminal jury trials will proceed as usual.  In relation to other criminal hearings, where defendants in custody are required to attend a hearing, they will appear in person unless directed to appear by AVL or audio link (see ss 8, 8A and 9 of the Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010).

4.  All civil proceedings will proceed as normal.  There are modifications that have been made to the High Court Rules 2016 by the High Court (COVID-19 Preparedness) Amendment Rules 2020 that address matters such as electronic filing, methods of service, swearing of affidavits, and alternative means of participating in hearings (see also s 7A of the Courts (Remote Participation) Act).  Some of these amendments only remain in effect while the notice under s 5 of the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006 is in force, although it is anticipated that such a notice will remain in effect during Alert Level 1.

5.  If counsel, or other persons required or proposing to attend a hearing (for example, a party) 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.

6.  The Court precincts will be open to the public. Use of the QR code or keeping a personal record is strongly encouraged.

7.  The Ministry of Justice will provide the hygiene measures described on their website.

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

Persons in isolation and quarantine

The High Court has issued a protocol covering persons in isolation and quarantine.

This protocol recognises that there may be regional variations and that local solutions may be necessary to best address local issues.


Remote hearings

The High Court has issued a protocol for conducting remote hearings.

This contains procedural instructions and technical information for counsel, parties, witnesses, media, and other observers who will be remotely participating in hearings in this Court.

The Protocol also contains instructions for people who wish to attend a hearing in person.  Please refer to these instructions if you are unsure whether you are able to attend in person.


Remote participation by witnesses in criminal hearings

The High Court has issued guidelines for remote participation by witnesses in criminal hearings.

These guidelines outline practical considerations for judges and participants when considering and determining whether witnesses can, and if so, should, give evidence remotely in criminal trials.


New Protocol Alert Level 2 issued 3 December 2020; Protocols during past alert levels

The information on this page reflects the current COVID-19 alert levels. 

For the new COVID-19 Alert Level 2 Protocol issued on 3 December 2020 and for High Court protocols during past alert levels please refer to:

Protocol COVID-19 Alert Level 2, issued 3 December 2020 
Protocol: COVID-19 Alert Level 1, (rest of the country), September 2020

Protocol: COVID-19 Alert Level 2, (Auckland region), September 2020
Protocol: COIVD-19 Alert Level 2, August 2020
Protocol during Alert Level 3 (August 2020, Auckland region)
Protocol during Alert Level 1 (June 2020)
Protocol during Alert Level 2 (May-June 2020)
Protocol during Alert Level 3 (April-May 2020)
Protocol during Alert Level 4