COVID-19 circuit breaker restrictions - message from the Chief Justice

27 MAY 2021

The following update is from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria and Chair of Courts Council, Anne Ferguson, on behalf of the Victorian courts and VCAT.

In line with public health advice, the Victorian courts and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) will implement their contingency plans in response to the new 7 Day Circuit Breaker Restrictions announced today to address the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Chief Justice Anne Ferguson said the courts and VCAT would work closely with Victoria’s legal profession and justice agencies to carefully manage the delivery of justice during the restrictions in line with the latest public health advice.

“The courts and VCAT have continued to operate and deliver justice through all levels of restrictions, including the circuit breaker in February,” Chief Justice Ferguson said.

“We have planned for this possibility and we are well placed to respond to the latest advice.”

“In accordance with the public health advice, matters will be held in person only where it is not practicable for them to be held remotely and it is essential that they proceed. The courts and VCAT will continue to hear as many matters as possible remotely. Some matters may be adjourned for a period of time.” 

“We will continue to follow public health advice and take all steps possible to minimise potential disruption and ensure matters are dealt with in a timely way.”

Chief Justice Ferguson said that criminal jury trials which are already underway will continue, following COVID-safe plans, although a few may be adjourned. No new criminal jury trials will begin until restrictions ease. Every effort will be made to re-list any vacated trials as soon as possible.

“We are very conscious that the new restrictions will once again require many participants in the court system to operate remotely,” the Chief Justice said.

“While many have become very familiar with this way of working, the challenges this presents are acknowledged and the jurisdictions will be mindful of this.”

“The health and safety of all court and tribunal participants is of the highest priority.” 

“We thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”