The courts have been closely monitoring the Government’s announcements and advice relating to COVID-19. Recommendations regarding the courts’ response to COVID-19 are underpinned by the need to ensure the health and safety of all involved in running and attending Court, as well as maintaining access to justice and ensuring the effectiveness of the courts’ operations.
To date, the Family Court of Australia is continuing to perform its duties during this time of crisis. There have been a number of changes to the operations of the Court so that all the relevant restrictions placed on the community are complied with. These changes include:
- Most court matters will be heard by telephone, and when possible, by videoconferencing;
- Only urgent matters are to be dealt with by in court face-to-face hearings;
- For in-court matters, the Court will stagger listings to reduce the number of people waiting in the foyer/registry building;
- Longer contested matters will not be listed for more than 1.5 hours in court, and with sufficient time in between listings to allow cleaning to occur;
- To reduce the length of any face-to-face hearing, where possible, it may be complemented with written submissions or telephone hearings if necessary;
- No more than 8 people (excluding the Judge and Associate) may be in the courtroom at any one time;
- Counsel, solicitors and parties are to adhere to social distancing by sitting in designated seats as indicated in the diagram on the door of the courtroom and in the seats marked in each courtroom (i.e. at least 1.5 to 2 metres apart); and
- Parties are to leave the courtroom immediately after their hearing has concluded, and then make their way promptly to the exit of the Court.
O’Brien Connors & Kennett remains operational and is still ready, willing and able to meet your legal needs. We are committed to ensuring the health and safety of all our clients and staff. The precautions recommended by the Australian government have been implemented and clients and staff are required to wear masks in face-to-face meetings. Please contact us if you require our services.
The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice and should be considered as general information only.