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Latest Information from the Courts COVID-19

Supreme Court of Tasmania

Media Release Supreme Court of Tasmania Response to Coronavirus Pandemic 15 March 2020


Magistrates Court of Tasmania

Public Notice Magistrates Court of Tasmania

The Magistrates Court is aware of the need to protect the community, while continuing to provide essential services.  To this end, we are taking the following steps:

  • Triaging large court lists to reduce the number of people required to be in the same location at the same time;
  • Enforcing a degree of separation between people in court proceedings, including the public seating at the rear of the court;
  • Requesting those entering the court building to use the hand sanitiser on entry, or alternatively to wash their hands immediately using the approach recommended by the Director of Public Health;
  • Requesting those who are not required to attend court to stay out of the building;
  • Planning for possible future changes to Public Health recommendations e.g. by increasing the use of video conferencing, telephone conferencing, and having some staff work from home;
  • If changing circumstances demand it, planning to prioritise which matters will continue to be dealt with by the Court, and which might be adjourned;
  • Keeping staff well informed about the measures they can take to protect themselves, their colleagues, and the community, including a requirement that staff thoroughly wash their hands on arrival to work in the morning, and when re-entering the building e.g. after lunch breaks; maintaining social distance; and following recommended hygiene procedures for coughing and sneezing;
  • Keeping up to date with all developments and recommendations from the Director of Public Health.

Penelope Ikedife Administrator
Magistrates Court of Tasmania


Federal Court’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak – Update – 17 March 2020

This information supersedes all previous updates provided by the Court.

In light of the recent developments that led to the closure of the Lionel Bowen building in Sydney, the Federal Court of Australia is taking steps to reduce the risk to court users and court staff from in person attendance in court buildings, commencing Wednesday, 18 March 2020.

Unless specifically and individually excepted by the Court, all Federal Court of Australia listings that require in person attendance, including mediations and listings relying on video link from court premises listed up to 30 June 2020, are vacated. The Court is examining, as a matter of urgency, its capability to facilitate listings by remote access technology, without requiring in person attendance. Further information will be provided as soon as possible of alternative arrangements that may be able to be put in place.

In the meantime, parties with listed hearings up to 30 June 2020 will be contacted by the Court directly about the need for the matter to proceed and possible options for achieving that where appropriate.

The decision as to whether the listing will proceed in the short term and, if so, when and in what manner, will be made by the relevant judge or registrar in consultation with the Chief Justice.

Court users should closely monitor the Daily Court Lists to check which listings are proposed to proceed.


Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia prioritise urgent and critical cases as impact of COVID-19 escalates – 18 June 2020

The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (the Courts) have responded to the evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and have made immediate and significant changes to court operations.

The aim of the new arrangements is to ensure that all urgent and priority matters are able to be dealt with safely by the courts, whilst at the same time, ensuring appropriate social distancing is adhered to.

A summary of the new arrangements for family law and general federal law (GFL) cases is as follows:

  • Due to the nature of family law work, including child related and family violence aspects, urgent and priority trials and contested hearings will remain listed and will be conducted in the safest manner possible.
  • Non-urgent property only trials may be adjourned for an appropriate period of time, and non-urgent parenting trials will be given similar consideration but this is at the discretion of the Judge.
  • Trials or hearings that can appropriately be done by telephone will be.
  • High volume lists that are required to be conducted in person will be staggered to reduce the number of people in attendance.
  • The number of people to attend a courtroom at any one time (other than the judge and their support staff) will be limited to 8 people (‘8 person in-court cap’).
  • Additional people involved in matters must remain outside the courtroom.
  • The balance of the Sydney Federal Circuit Court callovers will be vacated immediately and adjourned to a date to be fixed.
  • Callovers in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane, Parramatta and Adelaide will be postponed until further notice.
  • Regional circuits conducted by the Federal Circuit Court (scheduled for the next two months) are under review and some matters may be adjourned or conducted by telephone.
  • Migration matters currently listed in the Federal Circuit Court which can be conducted appropriately by telephone or videoconference should proceed. If the matter requires a hearing in person, it may be postponed subject to the urgency of the case.
  • In regard to other GFL matters (such as industrial law, human rights and consumer law) if the matter can proceed safely in person, and subject to the 8 person in-court cap, the matter may proceed at the judge’s discretion.
  • All court based events, or attendances of the judiciary or court representatives at external events, will be cancelled or postponed, or conducted by telephone or videoconference if possible.
  • The work conducted by Registrars and the Courts’ Child Dispute Service’s staff is currently under review.
  • It is noted that Registrar migration lists have been suspended until July 2020 by the Federal Court, effective immediately.

More information on these measures are available from the Court websites:

http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/home

http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/home

More information about how to self-assess for your personal risk for coronavirus (COVID-19) is available from the website of the Commonwealth Department of Health.

Media enquiries: Denise Healy denise.healy@familycourt.gov.au or 0409 743 695.

Denise Healy, National Media & Public Affairs Manager
Family Court of Australia
Federal Circuit Court of Australia
305 William St, Melbourne Vic 3000
p: 03 8600 4357
m: 0409 743 695
e: denise.healy@familycourt.gov.au
Follow us on Twitter @FamilyCourtAU


COVID-19: Registrar listings and Child Dispute Services (CDS) events

Managing the health and safety of the community, Judges and staff is our priority. Due to the escalating situation regarding COVID-19, and in anticipation of any further measures announced by Government, some urgent operational arrangements will be put in place effective immediately (unless otherwise noted) across the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court (the ‘Courts’).

The aim of the new arrangements is to ensure that all urgent and priority matters are able to be dealt with safely by the Courts, whilst at the same time, ensuring appropriate social distancing is adhered to.

It is important to stress that the situation regarding COVID-19 is rapidly changing and the arrangements listed below are subject to change at short notice. It is expected that additional details clarifying the matters below, and updated protocols (for example, in relation to larger lists), will be disseminated shortly (as early as later today).

Registrar events

Divorce Lists

  1. Where attendance is required, divorces will be conducted by telephone to the greatest extent possible, effective from Thursday, 19 March 2020 to the end of June 2020.
  2. Joint applications – will be done by Registrars on the papers and parties are not required to attend Court. If a party has selected to attend at Q2(a) of the divorce application, they will be advised that attendance is not required.
  3. Sole applications –
    1. Court attendance is not required if there are no children of the marriage. Parties and lawyers should not attend Court in-person under any circumstance.
    2. Court attendance is required (by the Act) if there are children under the age of 18 years. Attendance should be via telephone and parties and lawyers are requested not to attend Court in-person.
      • Applicants will be sent an email advising that they are to attend a virtual courtroom and will be provided an AAPT number to dial-in to the virtual courtroom.

Communication to lawyers/parties

  1. Where there are children under the age of 18 years, and Court attendance is required for sole applications, registry staff will send emails to lawyers and applicants advising that attendance should be via telephone.
  2. If the applicant is seeking orders for dispensation of service, these will dealt with by telephone.

Conduct of divorce lists

  1. Divorce lists will be staggered into three time slots per day. Each time slot will have a maximum of 10-12 matters listed. The list will be split between two Registrars, facilitating staggering and telephone attendances.
  2. Matters will be listed to the end of June 2020, allowing for increasing adjournment slots in July and August.

FCoA Directions List

  1. All Family Court Registrar Directions Lists will be conducted by telephone where limited to a procedural issue. 
  2. Where a matter is contested, written submissions are to be filed at the direction of Registrar with orders to be made in chambers.
  3. There will be no requirement to attend Court in-person, attendance will be via telephone.

Conferences (FCoA & FCC)

  1. All Case Assessment Conferences and Conciliation Conferences will be conducted via telephone. 
  2. Practitioners and parties will be sent dial-in details with relevant AAPT account numbers. 
  3. Practitioners and parties are still required to provide/exchange the usual documents in advance of the Conciliation Conference (where ordered by the Judge) and proposed orders to both the Court and to the other party prior to the conference.
  4. There will be no requirement to attend Court in-person.

Circuits

  1. Where possible, Registrars will utilise video/telephone alternatives for events that would otherwise be conducted on circuits. We are in the process of reviewing all circuit arrangements and the Courts will provide further information shortly.

Discrete Property Lists, PPP500 Lists and Contravention Lists

  1. Discrete Property Lists and PPP500 Lists will be conducted via telephone rather than in-person. 
  2. There will be no requirement to attend Court in-person, attendance will be via telephone.
  3. All associated Conferences are to be conducted via telephone where possible.

FCoA Senior Registrar Lists

  1. Parties and practitioners should attend by telephone if possible.
  2. The parties and practitoiners are still required to provide a short case outline, identifying the evidence they wish to rely upon together with a minute of proposed orders.

Documents for telephone hearings

  1. Any documents that would usually be handed up on the day of an in-person hearing or conference, must now be provided by the parties by email to the Registry at least one business day in advance of the hearing or conference by telephone.

CDS events

Child Dispute Conferences

1.      All Child Dispute Conferences (CDCs) will be conducted by telephone. 

2.      Parties will be sent dial-in details with relevant AAPT account numbers or, alternatively, will be asked to provide their contact details. 

3.      There will be no requirement to attend Court in-person.

Child Inclusive Conferences

4.      Existing orders for Child Inclusive Conferences (CICs) will, subject to the views of the Judge, be serviced as CDCs. We are actively discussing with Judges moving towards more CDCs (which can be done via telephone) rather than CICs for as many matters as possible, as quickly as possible. 

5.      Where a necessary CIC has been ordered, it will be conducted consistent with social distancing principles as far as possible. 

Child Responsive Program (FCoA)

6.      Meetings with the adult parties (MIA) will be conducted by telephone.

7.      Necessary meetings with children (MCF) will proceed as arranged at the Registry.

Family reports

8.      Family report interviews scheduled will proceed as arranged, unless the parties are advised otherwise by CDS but will be conducted consistent with social distancing principles as far as possible. 

Circuits

9.      Where possible, Family Consultants will utilise telephone alternatives for CDCs that would otherwise be conducted on circuits. We are in the process of reviewing all circuit arrangements and the Courts will provide further information shortly.

Up to date information may be found at the Courts’ websites:

http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/online-services/covid/covid-news-hp

http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/online-services/covid/covid-news-hp

Enquiries

Urgent enquiries regarding specific matters should be directed to the Chambers of the relevant Judge.

Assistance, including necessary adjournments, should be directed at first instance, to Michael Raine via michael.raine@familycourt.gov.au or (08) 8219 1641.

General court-related enquiries can be directed to the National Enquiry Centre by email: enquiries@familylawcourts.gov.au or telephone: 1300 352 000.

Regards,

David Pringle
A/g Chief Executive Officer & Principal Registrar, Family Court of Australia
A/g Chief Executive Officer & Principal Registrar, Federal Circuit Court of Australia
p. 03 8600 4361 | e. david.pringle@familycourt.gov.au
www.familycourt.gov.au   www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au