Re-introduction of Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions

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.

12 February 2021

The Victorian courts and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) will continue to adapt the way they operate in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

With the introduction of circuit breaker restrictions and in response to the latest public health advice, further changes will be made by the Courts and VCAT. 

Chief Justice Anne Ferguson said the Courts and VCAT would work closely with Victoria’s legal profession to carefully manage the delivery of justice during the five-day circuit breaker.

'The courts and VCAT continued to operate and deliver justice through the various levels of restrictions of 2020,' Chief Justice Ferguson said.

'We have been here before and we are well placed to respond to the latest advice.

'The courts will continue to hear matters either remotely, or on-site if necessary, or adjourn them to a later date. 

'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 for the short duration of the circuit breaker restrictions.  No new criminal jury trials will begin until restrictions ease.  

'We are very conscious that the new restrictions will once again require lawyers to operate largely remotely,' the Chief Justice said.

'While many are still doing that, others will need to revert to this mode of working. The challenges this presents are acknowledged and the jurisdictions will be mindful of this.

'The health and safety of judicial officers, staff, and Court users is of the highest priority. 

'We thank all those coming into the Courts for their patience and understanding as we work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19.'

Please check the websites of each jurisdiction for jurisdiction-specific changes.