COVID-19 Information - 6 April

This page was last updated on 6 April at 9.45am

IMPORTANT: If you are unwell, do not attend court or any other public place. Please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) for further instruction.

Public access to courts is being limited for safety reasons. You can only enter the District Court or High Court for criminal proceedings if you are required to be there for business of the court. Please see the section on how to participate in a virtual court for more information. Witnesses, complainants, supporters and members of the public cannot enter the courthouse without advance permission of the presiding judge. To get permission to attend proceedings in person, please contact 0800 COURTS. This request cannot be made in person as all public counters at the courts are now closed to the public.

If you need to attend court for priority family court proceedings or civil proceedings, please call 0800 268 787 for assistance.

We will accept Police bail, including those whose bail date has expired. More information will be provided.

Read Chief Justice Dame Helen Winkelmann's media statement [PDF, 182 KB]

On this page:

COVID-19 Alert Level 4: eliminate

The Government has announced a four-stage alert system for COVID-19:

COVID-19 Alert System(external link)

New Zealand is on COVID-19 Alert Level 4: eliminate. The Ministry of Justice is working closely with other government departments to continuously reassess our services and the current situation.

Only priority justice services will continue to operate during COVID-19 Alert Level 4.

In almost all cases, conferences and hearings will be conducted remotely by telephone or audio-visual link. However, court attendance in person may sometimes be required.

We are adhering to Ministry of Health guidelines and government instructions in relation to COVID-19. The safety and wellbeing of court users and staff is our highest priority.

Read our FAQs about COVID-19

What court services have been impacted?

IMPORTANT: Due to the current COVID-19 situation, some courts will be closed or operating at reduced capacity. Please check the Court and Tribunals Closures page or call 0800 COURTS if you have any questions.

Only priority justice services will continue to operate during COVID-19 Alert Level 4.

Priority services are:

  • District Court (Criminalwhere the defendant is in custody):
    • Public order offenders
    • Bail applications (including breaches)
    • Sentencing those already in custody
    • Deportation warrants
    • Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 hearings
    • Breach of Police Safety Orders (PSOs).
  • District Court (Civil)
    • Injunctions
    • Harassment orders
    • Harmful digital communications
    • Tenancy Tribunal appeals against evictions.
  • Youth Court
    • Arrests (first appearances)
    • Secure care applications
    • Bail applications
    • Review of custody
    • Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 hearings
    • Early release hearings.
  • Family Court
    • Public Health Order applications
    • Without notice applications: Care and protection
    • Protection and related Orders (Family Violence Act)
    • Care of Children applications (family violence related)
    • Mental Health (applications for compulsory treatment orders) hearings
    • Other without notice applications: PPPR & PRA hearings
    • Hague Convention hearings
    • Substance Addiction (Compulsory Treatment) hearings
    • Care and Protection hearings.
  • High Court
    • Custodial remands
    • Bail applications, appeals and breaches
    • Habeas corpus applications
    • Remand, case review, sentencings and sentence indications which may affect custodial status
    • Criminal appeals
    • Civil appeals including those from the Family Court involving care of children and Hague Convention issues
    • Applications by Police and Corrections authorities
    • Applications for civil remedies including injunctions, freezing orders and interim orders in judicial review proceedings
    • Urgent caveat matters
    • Urgent probate matters
  • Court of Appeal
    • Bail applications
    • Bail appeals
    • Habeas corpus appeals
    • Conviction appeals and short sentence appeals
    • Matters arising under public and mental health legislation
    • Family violence, and care and protection matters
    • Pre-trial appeals where trials are proceeding
    • Injunctions
    • Urgent judicial reviews.
  • Coronial Services.

Please contact your lawyer to see whether your matter is a priority and if it is scheduled to be considered by the court.

If your matter does not relate to this list, do not come to court. Cases that are not priority proceedings will be rescheduled to the next available date. The registry will advise participants of this. Please note there may be a delay in doing this due to the volume of cases required to be rescheduled.

If you were scheduled to attend court and are unwell, or you have been instructed to self-isolate, please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) for further instruction.

Information for all court users

IMPORTANT: If you are unwell, do not attend court or any other public place. Please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) for further instruction.

Anyone attending court is advised to follow the advice of the Ministry of Health(external link) and;

  • do not come to court if you are unwell
  • do not come to court if you have been instructed to self-isolate
  • let court staff know if you become unwell in court
  • practice coughing and sneezing etiquette
  • wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap.

If you were scheduled to attend court and are unwell, or you have been instructed to self-isolate, please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) to discuss your particular case.

According to the Ministry of Health, the risk is the greatest within one metre. Physical distancing is about creating more space between people. You should consider physical distancing to be the norm during our response to COVID-19.

Specific information for attending court on the Courts of New Zealand website(external link)

Current information and advice for the general public can be found at:

The government's dedicated COVID-19 website(external link)

The Ministry of Health website(external link)

Participating in a Virtual Meeting Room court hearing

The COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown means that many district courts are closed, and others are providing restricted access only. It has been determined that physical presence within the court must be minimised, which means that changes have been required for how hearings will occur.

Documents that are usually filed in person will need to be emailed to the court. You can find the email address for each Court Registry on the Ministry's website at:

Contact us/Find us

If your usual court is closed, you must still email your documents to that court’s email address. Staff from open courts will be monitoring the email inboxes and processing applications.

Remote participation is being phased into our District Courts. This means in some courts, critical hearings will be heard through Virtual Meeting Rooms (VMRs). In these cases, some or all participants (including the Judge and the Registrar) will attend the hearing by videoconference (VC) or teleconference (phone). The decision on whether participants may be required at a courthouse rests with the presiding Judge.

Not every court will move to remote participation straight away. Registry staff will advise if you are required to participate remotely. Otherwise, existing arrangements remain in place.

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

Filing documents with the courts

Documents that are emailed are considered to be filed when received and you will receive an email confirming this. If the filing court is closed, applications may be managed and hearings scheduled at an alternative court. You will be advised if this is to happen.

Applications can still be filed by post, but processing of documents may be significantly delayed because of hygiene requirements. Without-notice applications in the Family Court may still need to be filed in person. You cannot turn up at the court to file without making arrangements in advance. Call the Ministry of Justice Contact Centre on 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) to discuss the filing of without-notice applications.

You should also call the Contact Centre if you need to arrange for an Affidavit to be witnessed.

Courts will waive filing fees for documents filed during the Level 4 alert to the extent they can do so under s 24 of the Epidemic Preparedness Act or pursuant to other relevant court rule or regulation.

Filing of documents must still meet the deadlines in the tabling directions, as directed by the judge. The only change is that the documents should now be filed electronically rather than in person in hard copy. Where you have filed documents electronically, the original hard copy is not required. You can still file documents by post, but you must allow additional time for postal delivery and for court staff to receive and process the documents.

Documents that are usually physically handed to the judge during a hearing (for example, oral submissions, victims schedule, breaches) must be managed differently during alert Level 4. For documents to be distributed to all relevant parties by the Registry 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 Registry two days ahead of the hearing, you must email it to all parties, including the Registry email address prior to commencement of the hearing with the following 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, 95 KB]

How remote participation works

Before a remote participation hearing is due to begin, the Registry 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 Judicial Officer 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).

Accredited media have a right to attend hearings in all but exceptional circumstances. They may 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 determine what the media can report.

Some parties, such as other non-accredited media and victim advisors, should attend by phone only and not by video conference.

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: 

https://meet.rcvideo.net/index.html?id=8113366

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 advise the Registry and seek 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, 151 KB]

Remote Participation Hearing Quick Reference Guide: Remote participation for external parties [PDF, 351 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 Registry email address where the case will be heard (found at: https://www.justice.govt.nz/contact-us/find-us) or call the Contact Centre on 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787).

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

Find out more

Regular updates will continue to be made to the Ministry of Justice website(external link).

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)

Higher call volumes

We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls and so there may be longer wait times on the phone with our call centres. We would appreciate your patience with staff during this time as we work to get to your call as soon as possible.

Jury trials

All new jury trials have been suspended from Monday 23 March for two months up to 15 May 2020. The Chief Justice directed this as a precautionary measure. The Chief Justice is the head of the New Zealand judiciary and presides over the Supreme Court of New Zealand.

Jury trials that started prior to Monday 23 March will continue as scheduled. More information for jurors can be found below.

The suspension will be reviewed regularly and may be revised based on any new advice received.

Information for jurors

The Ministry is working quickly to contact all affected court participants, including jurors. If you are a juror who has been summonsed for trials from Monday 23 March, please do NOT come to court. If you have any questions relating to your summons, please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787).

Information for fines payments

If your circumstances have changed and you are having trouble paying your fines, the court may be able to extend the due date or offer an alternative payment plan.

If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to call us on 0800 4 FINES (0800 434 637).

Justices of the Peace

Justice of the Peace services have been suspended in response to the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 status. Please check in with the agency you are preparing documents for to obtain further advice. Many regulatory requirements have been suspended as a result of COVID-19 level 4 status.

More information can be found on this website:

Justices of the Peace(external link)

If you need to make an urgent without notice family application and are unable to lodge it online please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) for assistance.

Alcohol and Other Drugs Treatment Court

These hearings will operate via phone for participants. The court will be in touch to provide more detail on how to do this.

Information on justice services and programmes

The Ministry funds a range of justice services from external third-party providers, to deliver programmes to participants of the court process. In response to COVID-19 Level 4, some of these services are non-essential.

Providers of essential services will continue to deliver services remotely where possible. These services are:

  • Family violence programmes (non-violence programmes, safety programmes, strengthening safety programmes)
  • Whānau protect
  • Public trust
  • Victim Support.

Providers of non-essential services may continue to deliver services remotely during this period. These services are:

  • Restorative justice
  • Family disputes resolution
  • Parenting through separation
  • Harmful digital communications (Netsafe)
  • Community law centres
  • National Sexual Violence Survivor Advocacy service
  • Matariki Court.

Please contact your local service provider for further information on their service delivery during alert level 4.

If you are a participant of any of the above essential or non-essential services and have any questions, please contact your local provider.

Further information for service participants

If you require support during this time, please get in touch with your local service provider. Information on essential service providers can be found at:
MSD social sector organisations providing essential services(external link)

This link contains information on organisations that provide welfare and social services, including those funded by the Ministry of Social Development, Oranga Tamariki, the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC), the Ministry of Justice, Corrections, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.

Further information for service providers

It is important that we continue to work together to provide services and support to tamariki and whānau as best we can during this time. We have been meeting with other government agencies who fund services to align how we will support and work with our provider partners. As a result, the Ministry of Social Development, Oranga Tamariki, ACC, the Ministry of Justice, Corrections, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education have developed an agreed approach to working with our contracted providers during this time.  Further details can be found at:

MSD supporting providers through COVID-19(external link)

If you have any specific questions, please contact your contract manager in the first instance.  You can also email community_information@msd.govt.nz. They will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Information on Private Security Personnel Licencing Authority

Under Alert level 4, some aspects of private security services are classified as essential services requiring the emergency appointment of new security staff. The Authority will continue to issue certificates of approval (COA) to any new security guards.

Emergency appointments will be made under s61 Private Security Personnel and Private Investigative Act 2010. The person engaged must have applied for a certificate of approval and paid the appropriate fee. The actual licence holder must also be satisfied that grounds for disqualification are unlikely to apply to the person seeking to be appointed.

Emergency appointments made during the Alert level 4 status will be exempt from having to wear an official identification badge provided they carry a copy of the PSPLAs direction dated 25 March 2020 and present it upon request.

Please see our FAQs for more information.

More information

If we work together, be kind to each other and follow the guidance from the Government, we can all protect ourselves and help slow the spread of the virus. Further questions? Call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787).

For more advice and information on COVID-19:


Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on the weekend, the Chief Justice wrote a letter to the legal profession regarding arrangements in light of COVID-19:

Chief Justice letter to the legal profession [PDF, 184KB](external link)

You can also read:

Announcements and information from the Chief Justice for the legal profession(external link)

Legal aid services

More information on legal aid services response to COVID-19 can be found on What's new for legal aid lawyers.

Serving documents

Bailiffs will only serve urgent documents if all other options are unavailable. These urgent documents include Family Court documents such as Order Preventing Removal of Child from New Zealand (OPR) and temporary Protection Orders (Without Notice).

We suggest the legal profession provide a working phone number for the respondent/defendant. If a phone number is not available, but evidence can be supplied of an active social media account or a working email address, then we suggest filing for Substituted service.

The usual procedures will be followed in relation to without notice Protection Orders.

Special sittings

Special sittings and admission ceremonies may be affected. If you planned to attend any of these, please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) to confirm what arrangements are being made.

Information on all court sittings or any special arrangements that may be necessary will be updated on our website or the Courts of New Zealand website:

Courts of New Zealand(external link)

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