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And the doors re-open…

A few months ago, I wrote about the steps the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court were taking to address the restrictions and physical distancing requirements imposed by State and Federal governments as a result of COVID-19. 

Since that time, nationwide the Courts have continued to conduct over 80% of its work, albeit by video or telephone.  Anecdotally, that number is even greater in the Newcastle Registry.

However, as of 15 June 2020 the doors have re-opened…

The Hon. Will Alstergren, Chief Justice of the Family Court and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court, has announced that face-to-face hearings will resume from the week commencing 15 June 2020 for limited matters – being urgent matters which cannot be conducted by video – and restrictions will apply to ensure the safety of the court staff and participants in the hearings.

The restrictions in place include:

  • hard copy documents will not be permitted to be handed to the Judge or court staff;
  • no more than 8 people are permitted to be in any courtroom (in addition to the Judge and their Associate) and the placement of each individual within the courtroom is prescribed;
  • witnesses who are not parties to the proceedings must leave at the conclusion of their evidence;
  • commencement times will be staggered to limit the numbers of people in waiting areas and entering through security;
  • parties and practitioners are not permitted to be on any level other than the entry level and that of the courtroom in which their matter is being conducted; and must exit the building promptly after the conclusion of the matter.

The Courts will continue to monitor and update the protocol in line with the “re-opening” of the country in general.

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