Attending a remote participation court hearing

Many courts are open with limited access during COVID-19 Alert Level 2. A combination of in-person hearings and hearings using remote participation will be used under these restrictions.

Remote participation is necessary to minimise the number of people entering and moving around the courthouse each day. It will allow the court to maintain appropriate physical distancing when people are required to be at the courthouse.

In cases using remote participation, some or all people involved in the case (including the Judge and the Registrar) will continue to attend by videoconference (VC) or teleconference (phone) through Virtual Meeting Rooms (VMRs). The judge in charge of each case will decide if people need to come to court or if they will use remote participation. Court staff will let you know if you need to participate remotely. Otherwise, any existing arrangements will remain in place.

More information about what courts are doing during COVID-19 restrictions can be found on the Courts of New Zealand website.(external link)

Filing documents with the courts

Under Level 2, documents may be filed in person, electronically, by post or courier. When filing documents by post, you must allow additional time for postal delivery and for court staff to receive the documents.

Please see our FAQs page for more information on filing.

Filing of documents must still meet the deadlines in the judge’s directions. If you have filed documents electronically, the original hard copy is not required, unless you are filing with the Court of Appeal.

Documents that are usually physically handed to the judge during a hearing (for example, oral submissions, victims schedule or breaches) should continue to be scanned and shared by email.

For documents to be distributed to all relevant parties by the court they will need to be filed by email with the court at least two days prior to the hearing. If documents are not provided to the court two days ahead of the hearing, you must email them to all parties, including the registry email address prior to commencement of the hearing with the subject line: “URGENT: Additional documents for hearing scheduled for [time]” and mark the email 'high importance'. Court staff will forward the document to the presiding judge.

Please refer to the Filing of Court Documents Quick Reference Guide for more information:

Filing of Court Documents Quick Reference Guide [PDF, 182 KB]

How remote participation works

Before a remote participation hearing is due to begin, the court will email you with an Outlook meeting invitation that will provide you with the details required to connect to a Virtual Meeting Room (VMR).

The VMR can conduct both video conference and phone hearings. This will normally be done by connecting:

  • the judge using one VMR link
  • all other parties (excluding the defendant) using a second VMR
  • the defendant using an AVL link (Corrections custody) or a second VMR link (Police, Oranga Tamariki custody or Corrections custody where AVL is not available).

To enable participation in a VMR hearing, you will need to set up Jabber Guest. This is the programme that will enable to you attend hearings by VC or phone. Please see the Jabber Guest Quick Reference Guide below for more detailed information about device requirements and setting up Jabber Guest:

Jabber Guest Quick Reference Guide [PDF, 324 KB]

You can test access to Jabber Guest prior to the hearing by making a test call to:

Depending on your personal internet connection, you may not be able to use VC. If this is the case, please participate by connecting to the VMR by phone.

If it is not possible for you to attend the hearing remotely, please tell the court and ask for approval to attend the hearing in person.

Please refer to the two Remote Participation Hearing Quick Reference Guides below for more information:

Remote Participation Hearing Quick Reference Guide: Why remote participation is important for all parties [PDF, 316 KB]

Remote Participation Hearing Quick Reference Guide: Remote participation for external parties [PDF, 355 KB]

Receiving an invitation to a VMR

The registry will email the VMR details to all case parties prior to the hearing. If you have not received these details prior to the beginning of the hearing please email the court email address where the case will be heard(external link) or call the Contact Centre on 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787).

Any email communication or meeting invitations that you receive will use the BCC function to prevent the sharing of contact details.

Media participation

District Court staff will continue to provide regional daily lists to accredited court reporters for all criminal proceedings during COVID-19 Alert Level 2. Daily lists for the High Courts and the Court of Appeal are publicly available on the Courts of New Zealand website(external link). Accredited media may request press sheets for specific defendants or cases. Accredited media have a right to attend hearings in all but exceptional circumstances and can register their interest to attend with the court where the matter will be heard. They may continue to join the video conference on the basis that they remain muted and do not record sound or capture video without express permission of the judge. The judge will decide if there is anything the media cannot report.

Find out more

Regular updates will continue to be made to this page.

Also see the following links:
Courts of New Zealand website COVID-19 updates(external link)
Courts of New Zealand website Court Protocols(external link)
District Court website(external link)

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