This article impacts you if you are involved in or were about to be involved in new court proceedings before the Victorian courts.
The justice system continues operating as an essential service, but at this current time during the COVID-19 crisis, the following key changes have taken effect:
- The Magistrates’ Courts are effectively closed for new business. The Court will issue new proceedings, but that is all that is happening at this time. After the proceeding and defence have been filed and served, the Magistrates’ Courts are currently not listing matters for prehearing conferences for the foreseeable future. That means matters will lay dormant until this Courts are up and running properly again.
- For current proceedings in the County Court, hearings are only going ahead if they are urgent in nature eg urgent custody matters and bail applications (although some cases that are already underway still have hearings going ahead).
- The Supreme Court is trying to operate as ‘business as usual’ as much as possible. Hearings of a non-urgent matter may be impacted at this time.
- VCAT is closed for live in-person hearings and is conducting high priority matters via telephone hearings.
The County and Supreme Courts have stopped empanelling juries since Monday March 16 and no new jury trials are expected to start for another 6 months.
The courts have advised that court staff will be using this time before Easter to test technology systems such as video links and teleconferences to have the potential to allow hearings to continue through the COVID-19 crisis.
If you have any questions regarding your existing court proceeding or proceedings you were expecting to be a party to, please contact Rankin Business Lawyers for assistance and to seek clarification on how the closures impact you directly. We’re here to help you in any way we can.
Sofia Garcia Ladera, Consultant (Admitted in England and Wales; not admitted in Australia)