COVID-19 Information

New Zealand courts are doing some things differently to ensure essential justice services are delivered safely during the COVID-19 pandemic response period.

Changes to processes and procedures may vary depending on the Alert Level, are subject to change, and should be checked regularly by court users. The following announcements, advice and guidance is designed to assist the public; court participants, jurors and professionals; justice service agencies; and the media.

Information and advice for the general public can be found on the government's dedicated COVID-19 website and on the Ministry of Health website.

Protocols: What courts are doing during COVID-19 alert levels

Courts continue to expand the range of work they undertake.  Measures are in place to ensure that proceedings are conducted safely.  Physical distancing and cleaning regimes continue to play important roles.  Please refer to the protocols below for specific information about how each court is operating during Alert Level 2.  The Ministry of Justice's health and safety guide for court users also applies.

View protocols: Court Protocols

Date issued: 13 May 2020 (effective 18 May 2020)

For the legal profession
For media and court participants
New District Court protocol for public health order appeals

The Chief District Court Judge has issued a practice note setting out the process for appeals against a public health order issued under section 11 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.  The practice note contains the filing address to be used.

Practice note: Public Health Order appeals

Date issued:  22 May 2020

Letter from Chief Justice Winkelmann

Operation of the courts under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 (PDF, 200 KB)

Date issued: 13 May 2020

Media Release from the Chief District Court Judge

The Chief District Court Judge has issued a new protocol to guide New Zealand’s biggest court as it continues to deliver an essential service during Alert Level 2 of the pandemic response.

New Protocol for the District Court at Alert Level 2 (PDF, 185 KB)

Date issued: 13 May 2020

Chief Justice Winkelmann says courts will publish revised practice notes and protocols in the event the Government announces an immediate or phased step-down to COVID-19 Alert Level 2.

Revised practice notes and protocols to be published for COVID-19 alert level 2 (PDF, 229 KB)

Date issued: 8 May 2020

Letter from Chief Justice Winkelmann

re  … the type and volume of work in the courts will continue to expand… The courts will be open to the public….however there will be limits on the numbers who can attend.

Operation of the courts under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 (PDF, 261 KB)

Date issued: 23 April 2020

Media release from Chief Justice Winkelmann

re  … the type and volume of work in the courts will continue to expand… The courts will be open to the public….however there will be limits on the numbers who can attend.

Operation of the courts under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 (PDF, 198 KB)

Date issued: 23 April 2020

District Court Practice Note: Civil proceedings — COVID-19 Preparedness

re  ... guidance as to the manner in which practitioners, parties, and other participants in the District Court can expect judges to use their power under s 24 to modify the applicable District Court Rules 2014 while the epidemic notice is in force ...

View Practice Note: Practice Note

Date issued: 23 April 2020

Guideline for media

The information in this Guide is intended to assist media reporting the courts during the COVID-19 alert levels. Please read this in conjunction with the existing rules and guidelines.

Guide for media reporting the courts under COVID-19 alert levels (PDF, 204 KB)

Date issued: 17 April 2020

Guidelines for District Court practitioners during period of Epidemic Notice

Regarding unsworn affidavits, Electronic Filing/Remote hearings, and Electronic Service.

Guidelines for Practitioners during period of Epidemic Notice

Date issued: 16 April 2020

Media release from Chief Justice Winkelmann

Changes to the operation of the courts entering the third week of COVID-19 alert level 4. How the courts will operate in the short and medium term under alert restrictions.

Update on operation of the courts under COVID-19 alert levels (PDF, 181 KB)

Date issued: 8 April 2020
Letter from the Chief Justice Winkelmann

Operation of the courts under COVID-19 alert levels (PDF, 260 KB)

Date issued: 8 April 2020


 

Media releases from Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu

District Court website

Date issued: various

Changes to the High Court Rules 2016

The High Court Rules 2016 have been amended to ensure that civil justice remains accessible during the COVID-19 outbreak.  The Rules Committee has worked with the Ministry of Justice, the profession, and the judiciary to achieve this, and have produced a summary of key provisions.

High Court (COVID-19 Preparedness) Amendment Rules 2020

Summary of key provisions

Media briefing with the Chief Justice and Heads of Bench

Before:

Chief Justice The Right Hon Dame Helen Winkelmann
The Hon Justice Cooper
The Hon Justice Miller
Chief High Court Judge
The Hon Justice Venning
Chief District Court Judge Taumaunu

Held at Auckland High Court.

Transcript (PDF, 173 KB)

Date of briefing: 3 April 2020

March letters to the profession from Chief Justice Winkelmann

26 March 2020: Limitation on members of the public entering courthouses during COVID-19 Alert Level 4 (PDF, 158 KB)

25 March 2020: Court operations at Alert Level 4 (PDF, 174 KB)

23 March 2020: Rise to Alert Level 4 - Eliminate on Wednesday at 11:59 pm (PDF, 240 KB)

22 March 2020: COVID-19 Arrangements for New Zealand courts following the Prime Minister's statement (PDF, 183 KB)

18 March 2020: COVID-19 Suspension of new jury trials (PDF, 181 KB)

13 March 2020: Planning for possible effects of a COVID-19 outbreak on court business (PDF, 186 KB)

March media releases from Chief Justice Winkelmann

26 March 2020: Limitations on public access to courthouses (PDF, 182 KB)

25 March 2020: Note from Chief Justice Winkelmann (PDF, 155 KB)

23 March 2020: Rise to Level 4 Alert - Eliminate on Wednesday at 11:59 pm (PDF, 240 KB)

22 March 2020: Alert Level 3 rising to Level 4 - Eliminate (PDF, 179 KB)

18 March 2020: New jury trials will be suspended (PDF, 134 KB)

How to participate in virtual hearings

Participating in a Virtual Meeting Room court hearing
Why remote participation is important for all parties (PDF, 200 KB)
Remote participation for external parties (PDF, 253 KB)
Jabber guest quick reference guide (PDF, 324 KB)

Other links

Courts of New Zealand website

COVID-19: Related judgments
Please email if you would like to be added to the mailing list to receive latest press releases
Judgments of Public Interest (JPI) and Supreme Court Decisions
Subscribe to receive a notification when a JPI is added to the website
Media resource sheets

District Court information

The District Court During COVID-19 Pandemic Response Period
Covering the Family Court and Youth Court 

Ministry of Justice website

Health and Safety during COVID-19 Alert Level 2 (PDF, 145 KB)

Health and Safety during COVID-19 Alert Level 3 (PDF, 101 KB)

COVID-19 information hub

Court building closures due to COVID-19