Changes to court operations - COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Changes to court operations - COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
The District Court has made changes to its operations to reduce the risk of the spread of Coronavirus. Before attending a court please read the important information below about operations at the District Court and contact details.
Attend court virtually
As of 10 January 2022, there are currently no in person appearances for matters in the District Court other than criminal trials, and in some limited circumstances for sentencing.
Further details are available here.
The District Court encourages appearances by way of the AVL system (Virtual Courtroom) during periods of COVID-19 community transmission. Please note the updates as provided by the District Court during these periods.
Legal practitioners who are appearing before the court using the Virtual Courtroom are expected to familiarise themselves with the Virtual Courtroom User Guide (PDF , 73.0 KB).
For more information about the use of the Virtual Courtroom appearances please contact your legal representative.
Physical distancing measures in court
When in-person appearances are permitted, the use of the Virtual Courtroom is still available and encouraged where appropriate especially during periods of COVID-19 transmission in the community. Please check the most recent District Court updates for guidance on personal appearances.
The general policy of the court is to limit personal appearances where possible during periods of COVID-19 community transmission. During these periods when physical distancing measures are in place in NSW, the courtroom must not exceed the maximum court capacity as determined by the Sheriff of NSW (based on the principles of 4m² spacing per person and 1.5m spacing between people). The Court Room capacity is identified in signage at the entrance to the court room.
If you are representing yourself
If you are representing yourself and require more information about your matter contact the Courts Service Centre before attending the District Court. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call between 8.30am – 4.30pm weekdays on 1300 679 272.
Regional Court Sittings
Court participants travelling from Greater Sydney to District Court sittings in regional locations must ensure they obtain a COVID-19 test prior to travelling. Where appropriate court participants (including Judge, associates, lawyers, witnesses and persons on bail) should make arrangements with the presiding judge to appear remotely.
Jury Trials have recommenced in certain regional locations.
From 25 October 2021 jury trials recommenced progressively throughout NSW in accordance with District Court Practice Note 23. Updates to Practice Note 23 were provided on 12 January in response to the increase in community transmission over the December 2021 – January 2022 period.
Additional measures are being put in place to make Jury Trials safer where required. These will include fully vaccinated court participants and Rapid Antigen Screening (RAS).
RAS allows the prompt identification of COVID-19 infection and is another tool to support the pandemic response. It does not replace the usual mask-wearing, hand hygiene, distancing rules and vaccination efforts to reduce community spread.
For further information about Jury Trials please see the District Court Practice Note 23 available here.
Court Participants should contact their legal representatives regarding further information on the measures being put in place for Jury Trials.
The wellbeing of jurors and court users is important and physical distancing is being practiced in accordance with health advice provided to the Sheriff of NSW.
For all queries about jury duty, contact the juror information line on 1300 780 199 or visit www.juror.nsw.gov.au
Frequently Asked Questions (PDF , 185.6 KB)
Personal appearances in the District Court (Criminal)
During periods of community transmission the use of Virtual Court Room technology will be encouraged where appropriate and practicable. Court participants should review the most recent guidance of the District Court that will be provided in the District Court updates here.
Where the policy permits a personal appearance this does not create an obligation for lawyers to attend in person. The court continues to encourage the use of the virtual courtroom where possible.
Defendants in custody
The Court will continue to hear, consistent with health advice, all criminal matters where the defendant is in custody.
Practitioners are encouraged to notify the Court of:
- Sentence hearings requiring priority, particularly those defendants whose time on remand is approaching the period likely to be served on sentence.
- Local Court appeals where the appellant has been sentenced to a full-time custodial sentence.
The Court may prioritise a hearing if the prosecution and defendant are ready for an earlier hearing date. Hearings can be conducted by use of a Virtual Courtroom.
Defendants not in custody
If you have questions, contact the Courts Service Centre before attending the District Court. You can send an email to email@example.com or call between 8.30am – 4.30pm weekdays on 1300 679 272.
Personal appearances in the District Court (Civil)
The Civil Jurisdiction has paused in person appearances temporarily during the high period of community transmission in January 2022. Other than in circumstances where leave has been granted by the court for in person appearances, the following applies:
Matters before the JUDICIAL REGISTRAR will to be managed in the Online Court or, where not eligible for that service, by telephone directions.
To appear by telephone, parties must dial in at or prior to the appointed time for listing:
DIAL: 1800 062 923
PIN: 7762 8770 9768
Matters before the CIVIL LIST JUDGE will be conducted by telephone. At or prior to the appointed time, parties are to dial in using the following number and pin:
DIAL: 1800 672 949
PIN: 7271 2353 2532
All documents must be filed by midday the day before a matter's listing otherwise they may not be relied upon.
For hearings in person appearances will be subject to the discretion of the presiding Judge who will limit the number of persons in a court room to ensure adherence to the physical distancing restrictions when required.
The use of a virtual courtroom is available. Before making any request for a virtual courtroom for all or part of a hearing the parties must confer and confirm the request is made jointly and by consent. If the parties cannot consent, the parties may request a listing for any application to conduct the hearing remotely.
Any request by consent for virtual courtroom may be made to the Manager, Civil Case Management and Listings by email at least seven days prior to the date fixed for hearing. Any request for a listing for any application for leave to conduct a hearing remotely or a witness to give evidence remotely may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org Further details are available in the procedural updates available here.
Applications to vary bail
All applications to vary bail will be dealt with by a Judge in chambers except in compelling cases in Greater Sydney.
For more information on Bail Application Process during COVID-19 community transmission events, read the Bail application procedures available here.
Questions about court attendance
If you are unable to attend court, or if you are unsure, please contact the Courts Service Centre via email to email@example.com or call between 8.30am – 4.30pm weekdays on 1300 679 272.