Changes to court operations - COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The Local Court has made changes to its operations to reduce the risk of the spread of Coronavirus. The changes are outlined in the Chief Magistrate’s communications. Below is some general advice surrounding these arrangements.

Forms are available for defendants or their legal representatives to enter a plea in Local Court matters online through the Online Registry.

Urgent applications

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There are no longer restrictions on filing any applications. It remains the preference that the court be contacted via email/phone prior to attending in person.

Contacting/ attending the court

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In order to minimise the risk of all court users, the entry requirements include:

  • that you do not have any flu-like symptoms (even mild) including fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, or loss of taste or smell;
  • that you adhere to physical distancing whilst in the building at all times; and 
  • have not had contact with a diagnosed, suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days

Restrictions based on building capacity may apply from time to time.

Please note that due to the changing health advice, additional entry requirements may apply. These requirements will align with the NSW Health advice on a particular day. 

Inability or refusal to adhere to these requirements will result in refusal of entry or a requirement that the person leave the premises.

You can call the Courts Service Centre on 1300 679 272 or email the court. The email address and telephone number for local courts are found here

You can get information or legal support from:

  • LawAccess www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au or call 1300 888 529 (Monday to Friday)
  • Legal Aid:  www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au or call Legal Aid on 1300 888 529. To protect public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic Legal Aid is not providing face-to-face advice or representation to defendants at courts and office doors are closed. You can still seek advice by phone or email to your local Legal Aid office.
  • Aboriginal Legal Service: keep up to date on the ALS website www.als.nswact.org.au or via the ALS Facebook page.
  • Law Society of NSW www.lawsociety.nsw.gov.au

No, unless you choose to attend or there is a need for you to give evidence. It is recommended that you liaise with the prosecutor as they will advise you if (and when) you need to attend.

All existing orders (interim, provisional and final) remain enforceable. For any immediate concerns, please contact NSW Police.

As of 19 April 2021, support people will be permitted in any matter.

Support people must still abide by all other entry requirements, including appropriate physical distancing and restrictions relating to building capacity may apply from time to time.

List matters

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Matters not listed for hearing or sentence may be dealt with without a physical appearance as follows:

If you are legally represented: your legal represenative may enter an appearance, make a request (eg seek an adjournment) and/or indicate a plea to the court in writing/ by email.

Where a plea of not guilty is entered: the court will make orders for the service of the brief of evidence if required and advise the legal representative by email.

If you are unrepresented: prior to your first appearance, you may contact the court by email with a request for an adjournment, including the reason for the request.

If you are seeking to enter a plea, you may do so in writing.  

Wherever possible, defendants should provide an email address, residential address or mobile telephone number to facilitate communication with the court.

Entering a plea

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There is no need to attend court.

A plea can be entered by a defendant or their legal representative by completing a written notice of pleading form online at the NSW online registry. You do not need to have an account to complete and submit the form online.

A defendant can also download the:

and once complete email the form to the relevant court (see section 'how do I contact the court')

You will then be notified by email as to the next step in the process.  Legal representatives are to enter their appearance by email during these arrangements.

You should seek legal advice about this form before filling it in.

Please note for committal proceedings, physical attendance is required when entering pleas for all strictly indictable offences or when an election has been made to proceed to District Court.

Sentencing proceedings

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The physical appearance of the defendant and his or her legal representative is required at sentencing (except for fine only offences). Fine only offences may be dealt with in the absence of the accused, or via AVL where an application has been made and granted to appear remotely.

Defendants in custody will appear by AVL, unless an order has been made to attend in person. 

 You can seek legal assistance for your particular circumstances by contacting Law Access NSW. Visit the Law Access NSW website or call 1300 888 529.

Wherever possible, defendants should provide an email address, residential address or mobile telephone number to facilitate communication of the court’s response.

 

Hearings for pleas of not guilty

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For defendants in custody, hearings will proceed via AVL where facilities are able to accommodate this. For defendants not in custody, the defendant and their legal representative are expected to appear in person (unless an application has been made and granted for attendance by alternative means).

If you are unsure of your next court date, please contact the court service centre or email the relevant court. See question ‘how do I contact the court?’

Wherever possible, defendants should provide an email address, residential address or mobile telephone number to facilitate communication with the court.

Traffic Offender Intervention Program

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The Traffic Offender Intervention Program (TOIP) will not be delivered face-to-face during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are having difficulty participating in the course during COVID-19, you can contact the court and ask for the matter to be relisted or contact your local TOIP provider. If you need further information or have any questions, please email toip@justice.nsw.gov.au

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