26 September 2023

New laws for COVID court cases

Start the conversation

New temporary laws to assist ACT Courts remain operational during the COVID-19 response have been announced by the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr.

Mr Barr said the COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020 temporarily amended 20 pieces of legislation that had been identified as crucial in supporting the ACT’s operational response to the pandemic.

“One of the operational changes that will be made as a result of this Bill is to allow ACT courts to change the way evidence may be presented in Court and to allow Judges to decide how trials may be held,” Mr Barr said.

“This will allow ACT Courts to adhere to social distancing requirements in their operations.”

He said a new Practice Direction, Special Arrangements in response to COVID-19 had been released by the Supreme Court, stating that persons entering a courthouse must observe social distancing and hygiene practices.

The Direction also allows for documents other than Court of Appeal books to be filed electronically with the Court.

“The May Court of Appeal sittings will be heard in Courts 3 and 7 to take advantage of their greater dimensions,” the Direction says.

“Legal representatives and litigants in person may address the Court from the bar table or remotely.”

It also says that to enable and maintain social distancing in Court, mobile phones may be used by counsel, instructing solicitors and clients to give and receive instructions confidentially during proceedings, provided the phones are muted.

It also says the ‘legal year’ had been extended to 18 December 2020.

“These amendments will have a sunset clause meaning that they will phase out once our community and our economy has recovered from this crisis,” Mr Barr said.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.