High Court: Current COVID-19 Protocol

Contents 

       3 December 2021 Transitional COVID-19 Protection Framework Protocol Red Level

       3 December 2021 Transitional COVID-19 Protection Framework Protocol Orange Level

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Persons in isolation and quarantine

Remote hearings

Remote participation by witnesses in criminal hearings

 

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HIGH COURT PROTOCOL

Transitional COVID-19 Protection Framework Protocol

Red Level

Chief High Court Judge Susan Thomas

3 December 2021

 

1.  Measures to be implemented in the High Court for the COVID-19 Protection Framework (Protection Framework) are under development. These measures are expected to be largely operational by 1 February 2022 when the High Court formally recommences business for the year.

2.  In the interim the following transitional provisions will apply to High Court registries that are in the Protection Framework Red level. These settings are essentially the same as the Alert Level 3 and 4 protocol, with some modifications where in person appearances can be safely undertaken.

3.  Notice will be given when the Protection Framework measures have been implemented for a High Court registry.

Transitional arrangements

4.  High 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.

Criminal

6.  The jury trial in Rotorua scheduled for the week of 6 December will take place as scheduled and the jury trial currently underway in Whangarei will continue.

7.  No other jury trials will commence before the week of 8 February 2022.

8.  Sentencings and arraignments of those defendants who are on bail will take place in person where appropriate with careful management to mitigate risk.

9.  The Court will continue to deal with all other criminal work by remote means including first appearances, bail applications and appeals, custodial remands, conviction and sentence appeals, case review hearings, sentence indications, and pre-trial matters.

Civil

10. The Court will conduct as much of its usual civil business as reasonably possible by remote means, including habeas corpus, civil appeals, judicial review, summary judgments, interlocutory applications, urgent injunctions, caveat applications, liquidation and bankruptcy proceedings, probate matters and originating applications.

11.Sheriff proceedings can be filed and will be dealt with in the usual way.

12.New filings will be triaged according to priority.

13.Applications for probate will be accepted. General Registrar work will be carried out to the extent possible.

Media access

14.Remote access for accredited news media, will continue to be facilitated where possible in accordance with current protocols.

Remote participation and viewing

15. The following Protocol for Participation in Remote Hearings will apply to any hearings involving remote participants:

Protocol for Participation in Remote Hearings

16. The Protocol for Remote Viewings of Hearings governs media and public access to hearings:

Protocol for Remote Viewing of Hearings

Health and safety

17. 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 counsel).

18. Persons present in the Court building must observe all physical distancing requirements. This may result in limits to the number of people permitted to enter the Court building.

19. The following hygiene practices can be expected:

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

b) Physical distancing will be required in public spaces and in the courtroom;

c) Face masks must be worn in public areas of the courthouse and in courtrooms (unless a medical exemption applies). Masks may be removed in courtrooms when speaking at the discretion of the presiding Judge;

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

e) Hand sanitiser will be readily available within the courtroom.

20. Any concerns about health and safety practices in the Court should be raised with the Court Manager (home registries) or the Manager Justice Services (combined High Court/District Court registries) in the first instance.

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

Filing and filing fees

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

23. The public counter will be open in the home registries (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) and is subject to local arrangements in the combined High Court /District Court registries.

24. Filing Fees will be payable. Rule 5.1B(2) of the High Court Rules provides for payment of filing fees by alternative means, including at the Registrar’s discretion, credit card, electronic banking or solicitor’s undertaking.  An online “file and pay” system is available.  Courts of New Zealand file and pay

 

ADDENDUM 1

Addresses for filing electronically and by mail

All electronic filing is to be to the following addresses:        

Auckland High Court:            aucklandhc@justice.govt.nz

Wellington High Court:          wellingtonhc@justice.govt.nz

Christchurch High Court:       christchurchhc@justice.govt.nz

 

If any party wishes to contact the court regarding an urgent matter, these emails are also the addresses to use.  

All filing by mail is to be to these addresses:

Auckland High Court:            PO Box 60, Auckland

Wellington High Court:          PO Box 1091 or DX 11199, Wellington

Christchurch High Court:       20 Lichfield Street, Christchurch or DX WX10021, Christchurch

 

 

HIGH COURT PROTOCOL

Transitional COVID-19 Protection Framework Protocol

Orange Level

 

Chief High Court Judge Susan Thomas

3 December 2021

1.  Measures to be implemented in the High Court for the COVID-19 Protection Framework (Protection Framework) are under development. These measures are expected to be largely operational by 1 February 2022 when the High Court formally recommences business for the year.

2.  In the interim the following transitional provisions will apply to High Court registries that are in the Protection Framework Orange level. These settings are essentially the same as the Alert Level 2 (Delta) protocol.

3.  Notice will be given when the Protection Framework measures have been implemented for a High Court registry.

Transitional arrangements

4.  Subject to the restrictions noted below, the High Court will carry out all its usual scheduled work in person both from the home and circuit registries which can be safely supported.

Criminal

5.  No jury trials are scheduled to commence before the week of 8 February 2022.

6.  Judges and counsel will consider whether defendants in criminal procedural matters ought to be excused from attendance or (where necessary) attend by AVL or other remote means.

7.  Sentencing hearings will take place in person, although applications to appear via AVL or other remote means will be considered in appropriate cases.

8.  Criminal circuit work not involving witnesses may be conducted remotely by AVL or other remote means.

9.  In the home courts, criminal work not involving witnesses may be heard by remote means on application or by direction of the Judge.

Civil

10. The Court will conduct as much of its usual civil business as possible.

11. Where appropriate, matters will be dealt with on the papers or by remote means.

12. Sheriff proceedings can be filed and will be dealt with in the usual way.

Modifications for in-person proceedings

13. Where participants attend Court:

a) List Courts will operate on a case by case basis. Parties may be required to wait outside the courtroom until their case is called; 

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

c) So far as possible, counsel should take instructions and brief witnesses outside the courthouse. Rooms will be made available as far as practicable for interviews, and counsel may request breaks to take instructions safely using those facilities.

Media access

14. 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

15. The following Protocol for Participation in Remote Hearings will apply to any hearings involving remote participants:

Protocol for Participation in Remote Hearings

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

Protocol for Remote Viewing of Hearings

Health and safety

17. 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 counsel).

18. Persons present in the Court building must observe all physical distancing requirements. This may result in limits to the number of people permitted to enter the Court building.

19. The following hygiene practices can be expected:

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

b) Physical distancing will be required in public spaces and in the courtroom;

c) Face masks must be worn in public areas of the courthouse and in courtrooms (unless a medical exemption applies). Masks may be removed in courtrooms when speaking at the discretion of the presiding Judge;

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

e) Hand sanitiser will be readily available within the courtroom.

20. Any concerns about health and safety practices in the court should be raised with the Court Manager (home registries) or the Manager Justice Services (combined High Court/District Court registries) in the first instance.

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

Expectations of Counsel

22. Counsel are expected to assist the court by:

a) Giving early notification if they seek an adjournment.

b) Briefing clients and witnesses on public health measures including:

(i) Not to come to court if unwell;

(ii) To advise counsel as early as possible if they are unable to attend court;

(iii) The requirements for physical distancing, contact tracing and wearing of a face mask in the courthouse;

(iv) What they may expect by way of personal protective equipment and hygiene supplies in the courthouse.

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

(i) Seeking remote participation in appropriate cases;

(ii) Seeking excusals from appearances in administrative hearings;

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

d) Counsel 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, r 3.4A of the High Court Rules 2016, the Evidence Act 2006, and the Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010, will govern whether and how any witness may give evidence remotely. Also refer to the Guidelines for Remote Participation by Witnesses in Criminal Hearings.

Filing and filing fees

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

24. The public counter will be open in the home registries (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) and is subject to local arrangements in the combined High Court /District Court registries.

35. Filing Fees will be payable unless a waiver is applied for. Rule 5.1B(2) of the High Court Rules provides for payment of filing fees by alternative means, including, at the Registrar’s discretion, credit card, electronic banking or solicitor’s undertaking.  An online “file and pay” system is available.  Courts of New Zealand file and pay

 

ADDENDUM 1

 

Addresses for filing electronically and by mail

All electronic filing is to be to the following addresses:        

Auckland High Court:            aucklandhc@justice.govt.nz

Wellington High Court:          wellingtonhc@justice.govt.nz

Christchurch High Court:       christchurchhc@justice.govt.nz

 

If any party wishes to contact the court regarding an urgent matter, these emails are also the addresses to use.  

All filing by mail is to be to these addresses:

Auckland High Court:            PO Box 60, Auckland

Wellington High Court:          PO Box 1091 or DX 11199, Wellington

Christchurch High Court:       20 Lichfield Street, Christchurch or DX WX10021, Christchurch