The NZBA is working hard to support its members while the country is dealing with Covid 19. We are liaising with the courts, the New Zealand Law Society and other professional bodies. See our news page for latest advisories. But most important of all, please stay in touch. Let us know how you're doing. Suggest ways that others can cope or help.
We have gathered a mix of help sheets and general information to help and will continue to add to it. Kate Davenport QC has also a support page in which she will tell you about developments and what we are doing.
He waka eke noa - We are all in this together.
Advisory from the Chief Justice re Alert Level 1
The Right Honourable Dame Helen Winkelmann Chief Justice of New Zealand /Te Tumu Whakawā o Aotearoa advises that new protocols will be posted by the afternoon of Wednesday, 10 June. Physical distancing will not be enforced in courts. However current hygiene measures will be maintained, as will contact tracing. Read more
Visiting Prisons under Alert Level 2
26 May 2020
The Department of Corrections has advised that while it is now possible for lawyers to visit their clients in person when requested, Corrections encourages lawyers to consider other options for engaging with their clients where practicable.
The measures put in place to support access during COVID-19 will continue. These include utilising the lawyer document email system to request video conferencing and phone calls with clients, and the use of Jabber to call into the VMR.
Court and Tribunal operations in Level 2
District Court Protocol at Level 2
15 May 2020
The Chief District Court Judge has issued a new protocol to guide New Zealand's largest court, as it continues to deliver an essential service during Alert Level 2. His Honour, Judge Heemi Taumaunu, says that when the District Court Protocol at Alert Level 2 comes into force on Monday 18 May, the court will undertake as much additional work as possible. This is subject to operating safely within the COVID-19 emergency restrictions relating to physical distancing and keeping public and registry-work areas scrupulously clean.
Click here to read the protocol.
Oaths, Declarations and Wills
The Government has made two orders under the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006. The first modifies the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 to enable an oath, an affirmation, or a declaration to be administered or taken using an audiovisual or audio link instead of in the presence of the person swearing the oath or making the affirmation or declaration. The second modifies requirements imposed by section 11 of the Wills Act 2007 requiring that a will be signed in the physical presence of 2 witnesses. They are both temporary and will be revoked when the Epidemic Preparedness (COVID-19) Notice 2020 expires or is revoked. Read more
Supreme Court and Court of Appeal Remote Hearings Protocol
A protocol for remote hearings in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal was issued on 17 April 2020 by Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann and the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Stephen Kós. This is available on the courtsofnz.govt.nz website, but we have set it out in full on our website for your convenience. Please refer to the original text before engaging in a remote hearing as the protocol is subject to revision.
Guidelines for District Court Practitioners during period of Epidemic Notice
New processes for bail, home detention and community-based sentences
The Solicitor-General has clarified her reasons for circulating to the wider profession a letter dated 7 April 2020 which was sent to prosecutors. The letter outlined new processes for bail, home detention and community-based sentences. Members of the defence bar have responded to her correspondence.
High Court (COVID-19 Preparedness) Amendment Rules 2020
The High Court (COVID-19 Preparedness) Amendment Rules 2020 came into effect on 9 April 2020 immediately upon their publication in the Gazette. These Rules help with the continuation of civil proceedings in the High Court during the outbreak of COVID-19. The new rules can be found on the legislation.govt..nz website. Read a summary of the rules here.
Department of Corrections Advisories
The NZBA has received the following information from the Department of Corrections
Please click here to see an updated PDF list of the prison email addresses to facilitate lawyer correspondence during the pandemic
Employment Court and Employment Relations Authority
10 June 2020 - Alert Level 1 notice from the Employment Court - download the Protocol
28 May 2020 - Latest from the ERA - Level 2 in person meetings Health and Safety Guidelines - download the PDF information sheet.
Or see the protocols around applications and investigations in Level 2.
A further update has been received from Chief Employment Court Judge, Her Hon. Christina Inglis on 14 April 2020.
An update has been received from the Employment Court along with earlier correspondence from The Employment Relations Authority (the Authority) has provided an update on arrangements it has made to deal with applications and investigations during the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions (the restrictions). These relate to:
- Service of statements of problem
- Affirmation of witness statements for Authority investigations
- Affirmation of affidavits for interim applications
- Directions to mediation:
- Timeframes for personal grievances
Employment Mediation Service - Mediations under Alert Level 1
Under Alert level 1 the Employment Mediation Service will be offering in-person and telephone mediation. As has been the case under Alert Level 2, in-person services will be available from this point on in locations where we have mediators located (Auckland Central, Manukau, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Wellington and Christchurch).
Mediation circuits will resume in July. Planning is underway and exact dates for areas that are serviced by circuits will be made available as soon as they are ready. Until this work has been completed, telephone mediations are available.
We do anticipate a potential backlog of cases, so please bear with us. It would be helpful if you could quickly confirm offered dates and provide all the information needed to assess a case.
As per the Government’s Alert Level 1 advice, we will be putting in place contact tracing systems. You will be advised on protocols when you apply for mediation. We will also continue to ensure that hygiene standards are high on our sites.
We look forward to providing a range of services to you again.
Advisory from the District Court - 1 April 2020
The NZBA has recevied the following update from the Chief District Court Judge, His Hon Judge Heemi Taumaunu regarding proceedings in the District Court during alert level 4.
The full story and a list of the courts where Virtual Meeting Room facilities are being established can be found on our news page
Administration of Oaths and Declarations - Covid 19 implications
One of the nightmares for all involved in cases is what to do about swearing affidavits while the Covid 19 lockdown continues. There may be a couple of options open to practitioners
Statement from the Principal Family Court Judge - shared care
In response to questions raised about the management of children from families who have shared care or contact arrangements pursuant to Family Court orders, the Principal Family Court Judge, Jacquelyn Moran, has offered the following guidance.
Court's Arrangements following the rise to COVID-19 alert level 4
Following the announcement of the imminent move to a level 4 alert and lockdown, the Chief Justice has written to the profession. She advises that Courts are an essential service. However, for the remainder of this week they will operate only in the priority areas identified on 22 March, namely
- Liberty of the individual
- Personal safety and wellbeing
- Matters in which resolution is time-critical.
Updates from the
Employment Court can be found here
Working from Home - the tech stuff
Our tech gurus (aka Phillip Cornegé, Josh McBride and Felix Geiringer) have put together some information to help you through the process of transitioning to work from home.
They have suggested some hardware and software options and provided links to useful material.
They will be regularly updating this page and providing other advice.
At times like these you need...
We are all worried about finances. Our member benefits include significant savings on insurance*, the Lexis Nexis e-library package, Thomson Reuters deals and commercial benefits such as savings from Noel Leeming, Office Max, Guthrie Bowron, Bunnings.
There are two ways to access these savings but BOTH require you to login using your member id (which is the email address that we send your member updates to) and your password. You can access your savings via:
- Our Member benefit app
- The website member benefits section
Find out more from the Member Benefits page.
Notice from Office Max is that they remain open online. View notice here.
Are you okay?
If you are not experiencing some stress at this time, you must have nerves of steel or be meditating non-stop. The question is what degree of stress is too much and at what point you need to seek help. This is something we all have to watch and the most important thing you can do is say you need help or ask others if they are okay.
The New Zealand Law Society is offering a free and confidential professional counselling service through Vitae, one of New Zealand’s most experienced providers of workplace wellbeing services. This is available to anyone in a legal workplace – lawyers and non-lawyers. You can have counselling via phone or videolink as well as face to face.