Supreme Court: Current COVID-19 Protocol
NB: The information on this page reflects the current COVID-19 alert level. For Supreme Court protocols during past alert levels, please refer to:
The Supreme Court and Court of Appeal have 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 these Courts.
The Protocol also contains instructions for people who wish to attend a hearing in person while travel restrictions are in force. Seats in these Courts are being reserved only for those whose attendance in person has been arranged before each hearing. Please refer to these instructions if you are unsure whether you are able to attend in person.
Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann
13 May 2020
1. This protocol applies during COVID-19 Alert Level 2 and comes into effect on Monday 18 May 2020. It replaces the protocol issued on 23 April 2020.
2. Courts are an essential service. At Alert Level 2, and subject to the restrictions noted below, the Supreme Court/Te Kōti Mana Nui will continue to carry out all usual scheduled work that can safely be supported. This requires the co-operation of all participants to ensure the courts function to the fullest extent they safely can in performance of their constitutional responsibility.
3. The Court intends to hear all appeals and applications for leave to appeal that have been scheduled for hearing during the Alert Level 2 period. The Court anticipates that, generally, hearings will proceed in the normal way, with all judges and counsel present in person in the Supreme Court courtroom. The Court will notify counsel in advance of the hearing if it is intended that the hearing will be conducted other than on the above basis.
4. If counsel, or other persons required or proposing to attend a hearing (for example, a party) are at higher risk of severe illness, immune-compromised or with a relevant underlying health condition, they should not attend Court. If this applies, or if counsel or a litigant appearing in person has any difficulty in travelling to Wellington for a hearing, the Court should be advised so that alternative arrangements for the appearance can be made.
5. The Supreme Court and Court of Appeal Remote Hearings Protocol will apply to any hearings involving remote participants. That protocol also governs media and public access to hearings.
6. Hearings will continue to be recorded in the usual way.
7. Documents may not be handed up during the hearing but must instead be emailed to the Court by 4:00 pm the day prior to the hearing.
Health and safety
8. The Supreme Court courtroom will continue to be cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis. Benches and the rostrum from which counsel address the Court will be cleaned after each use. Hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes will be available inside the courtroom.
9. Any person present in the Supreme Court courtroom and court building must observe hygiene and social distancing requirements, and may elect to wear a mask and gloves.
10. Any media representative or member of the public present in the Supreme Court courtroom and court building must register their attendance on a list maintained by the Registrar.
11. In the event of community transmission in Wellington, public health advice will be taken, and further directions given. Steps may be taken to reduce in-person attendances at the Court to help protect those working or appearing there.
Health and safety guidance is also available from the Ministry of Justice.
Filing of documents
12. Court documents are to be filed by email. Under s 24 of the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006, I modify the Supreme Court Rules 2004 so that applications for leave to appeal that would normally have to be filed in person or by post will be accepted for filing if filed by email.
13. Those who cannot file by email may file by post. Due to hygiene requirements, processing of these documents may be delayed.
14. Court documents may not be filed in person at the Court registry.
15. The payment of fees relating to applications for leave to appeal or interlocutory applications (whether filed electronically or by mail) may be made as usual via the direct credit facility or by cheque. Fee waiver applications can also be provided as usual electronically or by mail. Please contact the Court if you have any issues regarding the payment of fees.
Addresses for filing documents and contacting the Court
All electronic filing should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is also the email address for urgent enquiries.
All filing by mail should be sent to:
85 Lambton Quay
DX: SX11224, Wellington
Note that this Protocol is subject to revision.