The Victorian Government has announced a statewide lockdown for five days from midnight Thursday, 15 July until midnight Tuesday, 20 July 2021 inclusive.
For up-to-date information about the Courts’ responses, please visit their websites:
- Federal Court of Australia – see here.
- Family Court of Australia – see here.
- Federal Circuit Court of Australia – see here.
- Supreme Court of Victoria – see here.
- County Court of Victoria – see here.
- Magistrates’ Court of Victoria – see here.
Supreme Court of Victoria
The Supreme Court of Victoria have published a joint jurisdictional statement from the Chief Justice, on behalf of the Victorian courts and VCAT. The statement is in response to the lockdown announced yesterday afternoon.
You can access the statement here.
County Court of Victoria
Criminal jury trials
Those criminal jury trials underway may continue at Melbourne and on Circuit, subject to the views of the judge and the parties. Self-evidently, there is a strong public interest in those trials proceeding to verdict, where possible. The Court deems the continuation of any jury trial which has begun as essential. Criminal jury trials which were due to be empanelled Friday 15 July, Monday 19 July or Tuesday 20 July 2021 will not be able to proceed. Every effort will be made to relist these trials over the coming weeks. The Court will be in contact with the parties soon in relation to these re-listings.
Criminal judge alone trials
A trial by judge alone which is midstream will continue. Given its equivalence with jury trials, the interests of justice demand that it proceeds to conclusion as efficiently as possible. By their nature, the Court considers the completion of such trials as essential to the administration of justice. Where onsite attendance is needed for the efficient completion of a trial by judge alone, the Court would authorise it.
Civil jury trials
Civil jury trials underway may continue at Melbourne, subject to the views of the judge and parties. The Court deems the continuation of any jury trial which has begun as essential.
Other non-jury trial work
Save for work considered essential to the administration of justice, all other non-trial jury work in all Divisions will have to be conducted, if at all, completely offsite. This means that all matters are to be conducted remotely. A case will only be considered essential where is it essential that it be heard during the lockdown. There must be compelling reasons why the case must go ahead Friday 15 July, Monday 19 July or Tuesday 20 July 2021, and where it must involve onsite attendance. Given the timing of this announcement the Court appreciates that it may be too late to organise for alternative arrangements which may lead to some unavoidable attendance. Parties with matters listed on these dates should contact the chambers of the presiding judge in the event of any uncertainty.
This is a Statewide lockdown. The above considerations apply equally to all circuit work – jury and non-jury work.
Mask wearing is at Setting 2 for cases which are conducted onsite, namely those in a speaking role, including counsel, are not required to wear a mask, but all other participants and other court users (including jurors) must wear a mask. The Setting 2 will extend to all circuit matters.
Letters of authority
The profession should obtain any letter of authority to attend onsite at court from their respective organisations, should this be required. An accused’s bail papers will suffice to attend onsite at court.