The following update is from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria and Chair of Courts Council, Anne Ferguson, on behalf of the Victorian courts and VCAT.
This news article may contain information that has since been updated or revised. To view current changes to Court operations related to COVID-19 visit the coronavirus information page.
The Victorian courts and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) will adjust their arrangements in line with further changes to restrictions during the extended lockdown in metropolitan Melbourne, and maintain operations in regional areas in line with the restrictions in operation there.
Metropolitan Melbourne arrangements
Chief Justice Ferguson said in Melbourne urgent and priority matters not able to be held remotely would be held in person. The courts and VCAT will continue to hear as many other matters as possible remotely. Some matters may be adjourned for a period of time.
A small number of jury trials which were underway when the lockdown began continue, following COVID-safe plans. No new criminal jury trials will begin until restrictions ease.
Outside metropolitan Melbourne, the Courts will continue to use a mixture of in-person and remote hearings. In-person hearings that would require individuals to travel from Melbourne into the regions will only proceed in urgent and priority matters.
“The Victorian courts and VCAT continue to be grateful for the way in which all court users have responded to the rapidly changing COVID-19 restrictions,” Chief Justice Ferguson said.
“It has been incredibly important to keep the Courts and VCAT operating throughout the pandemic for the benefit of the litigants and the broader community.
“We are very conscious that these new restrictions will once again require litigants, witnesses and lawyers to operate largely remotely. While many lawyers are already doing that, others will need to revert to this mode of working and do so in different household environments. The jurisdictions acknowledge and will be mindful of the challenges this presents.
“We remain extremely grateful to Victoria’s legal profession and all who work for and with us for assisting the Courts and VCAT to progress as many matters as possible for the benefit of the community during this unsettling time.
“The health and safety of Court users, judicial officers and staff is of the highest priority. We thank you for your positive approach, your patience, endurance and hard work.
“As always, we will continue to update you on changes we need to make to the way we operate in line with public health advice.”
Please check the websites of each jurisdiction for jurisdiction-specific changes.