28 February 2021
From the Chief Justice
Following the announcement from the Prime Minister that Auckland is now at Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country is at Alert Level 2, the Chief Justice announced the reinstatement of the Alert Level 2 and 3 protocols for the courts throughout New Zealand. “These changes in Alert Level are a well- trodden path for the courts. We have safely and successfully operated under these circumstances before, and with everyone’s continued cooperation and support, we will do so again” the Chief Justice said.
For the Auckland High Court and Auckland and Manukau District Courts no new jury trials will start before Monday 8 March 2021.
Jury trials that were due to start on Monday 1 March in the Auckland courts will be adjourned or called over, to be determined on a case by case basis. Court staff will contact the parties directly regarding their specific case.
All jury trials underway will be suspended with the exception of one case in the Auckland High Court where the evidence has concluded, and the trial is in its final stages. Court staff will contact the parties in this trial directly.
All civil matters currently underway or due to start in the Auckland Courts will be reviewed, with as much work done by remote means as possible. Court staff will contact the parties directly.
Practitioners or participants who are required to attend court while Auckland is at alert level three who are vulnerable either by age or due to health conditions should raise this with the court at the earliest opportunity.
The rest of New Zealand
The Chief Justice has re-confirmed that all trials scheduled to be heard in the rest of the country will continue as scheduled. Jurors summoned to attend or who are currently serving on trials outside Auckland are requested to attend as per their summons document or any instruction from court registry staff.
In limited cases if the Court cannot accommodate jury trials in accordance with the Alert Level 2 restrictions, these trials will be adjourned or stood down. This decision will be made at the local level, and participants will be contacted directly.
Health and safety
The Ministry of Justice’s health and safety arrangements for Alert Level 2 and 3 can be found on the Ministry of Justice’s website.
Physical distancing arrangements are in place throughout all courthouses and screens will be in place for jury trials. Supplies of masks, gloves and hand sanitiser are available for all participants at court. Thermal imaging will be operation.
Information on Specific Courts
We will keep you informed as we receive updates from other courts.
Travel by Lawyers during Level 3
The Travel Letters previously issued by the Law Society are still current and can be used during this Level 3 alert.
The Law Society will be re-issuing these letters to help you if you have mislaid your copy.
How are you?
Quite frankly, while we are more or less old hands at this, it does cause an extra level of work on top of our normal workloads. You may feel down, a bit flat or thing that we are going backwards.
You can get help at the following places:
The Law Society offers support for members via the Legal Community Counselling Service.
If you are a member of the NZBA MAS Scheme, you are entitled to free EAP counselling sessions.
The Ministry of Health website has information about other places you can seek help.
And finally, if you want to discuss a matter that you think the NZBA should know about, please email our Executive Director, Jacqui Thompson.