Special Measures during COVID-19
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During this trying time, we are all having to adapt to new working practices, while providing essential services to our clients.
There have been many updates in regards to
-audio visual link (AVL) attendances
-email and post filing with the Courts
-Court closures and limitations (at this point we should expect these measures in place until July 2020)
-witnessing and certification of documents
The NSW Government passed the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 OVERNIGHT, effecting 20 different Acts (24 March 2020).
All the changes allow for modifications to standard practices to ensure public health and safety.
Federal Court of Australia has brought in the following measures:
Electronic Filing of All Documents
- 3.1 To the extent possible, all documents must be lodged for filing using the Court’s electronic filing facility, eLodgment.
- Documents that are not able to be lodged through eLodgment may be faxed or emailed to the relevant registry (at the registry email address available on the Court’s website) for filing.
- 3.3 Court users who do not have access to the necessary electronic equipment, including self-represented litigants, should contact the registry by telephone for assistance. Public scanning facilities can be made available in each registry to facilitate the electronic filing of all documents.
- Registry staff have been asked to minimise hard copy document handling. To the extent possible, hard copy documents should not be posted or hand delivered to registries.
Signatures on Documents and Affidavits
- To facilitate the electronic filing of all documents, if access to scanning technology is limited, the Court will temporarily allow documents to be signed electronically, including by having the person signing the document type their name in the relevant space in the signature block in lieu of physically signing the relevant document.
- The Court also acknowledges that remote working arrangements may pose significant challenges to having affidavits sworn or affirmed. The Court will accept the filing of unsworn affidavits on the understanding that, if required, these will later be sworn or affirmed when circumstances allow.
Family Court of Australia has brought in the following measures:
- Mentions and Interim Hearings will generally be by telephone.
- For final hearings,
- The judge will decide which matters listed for final hearing in the next two months can take place via telephone;
- Matters of urgency will be considered;
- Cases with lower urgency may be sent to mediation and/or adjourned to a later date;
- Any mediation are to be conducted with appropriate measures in place (such as videoconferencing);
- Cases that are assessed to be of a high priority, and remain listed for hearing, should follow the face-to-face in-court protocol, including giving consideration to conducting parts of the hearing by telephone or written submissions after the 1.5 hour time period has elapsed;
- Subject to any further developments or Government restrictions, this process may then be repeated for matters listed for final hearing in 3 and 4 months’ time.