The Victorian Government has announced an extension to the restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne for seven days until 11:59pm, Thursday 19 August 2021.
The Supreme Court of Victoria has published a joint jurisdictional statement from the Chief Justice on behalf of the Victorian courts and VCAT in response to changes to regional restrictions and the Melbourne extension.
You can access the statement here.
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.
County Court of Victoria
Melbourne criminal jury trials
Those criminal jury trials underway may continue at Melbourne, 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.
At this stage, criminal jury trials, which were due to be empanelled between Thursday, 12 August 2021 and Thursday, 19 August 2021 inclusive, will not 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.
We will aim to resume jury trials in Melbourne on Friday, 20 August 2021.
Melbourne 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 essential to the administration of justice. Where onsite attendance is needed to efficiently complete trial by judge alone, the Court would authorise it.
Melbourne other non-jury trial work
Each presiding judge will determine whether the onsite attendance of practitioners and other courts users is deemed necessary (as opposed to convenient or preferable).
If the hearing can be practically conducted with the practitioners and other court users participating remotely, it must be done that way.
Parties with non-jury matters listed during the lockdown period should contact the presiding judge's chambers in the event of any uncertainty.
Circuit criminal jury trials
The Government has eased restrictions in regional Victoria from 11:59pm Monday, 9 August 2021. As a result, the Court will resume new jury empanelments for trials at circuit locations from Friday, 13 August 2021. The Court will contact parties with matters listed at circuit locations from this date in relation to their matter.
Melbourne and Circuit - mask-wearing
Mask wearing is at Setting 2 for cases 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. Mask setting 2 extends to all circuit matters.
Melbourne and Circuit - letters of authority
The profession should obtain any letter of authority to attend onsite at court from their respective organisations, should this be required. This includes for those practitioners who may need to travel from Melbourne to a regional court location for a circuit matter. An accused’s bail papers will suffice to attend onsite at court.