New Zealand Law Society - COVID-19 information

COVID-19 information

The latest information on the Law Society's response to COVID-19, and New Zealand's response to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Response Policy - Access to Premises and Contracted Event Venues

As New Zealand has recently moved to the Orange setting in the traffic light framework, our policy for access to premises and contracted event venues has also been updated accordingly. 


Please note that vaccine passes will no longer be required at Law Society offices, premises and events. 

The position of the New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa (Law Society) regarding our COVID-19 response for people who access Law Society Services. This policy is to establish and communicate the position.

Read our COVID-19 Response Access to Premises and Contracted Events Venues Policy.

Current situation

Update on the Courts

Jury trial bubble guidelines

04/03/2022

The Chief High Court and Chief District Court Judges have released updated guidelines for the conduct of jury trials in the High Court and District Court, with effect from Monday 7 March 2022.

For information on these guidelines, read the full statement.

Operation of the Courts during the Omicron outbreak

02/03/2022

The Chief Justice has published a statement on court operations at phase 3 of the Red setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

The statement outlines how courts will continue to deal with such work as they are able to; the conditions for entry into the courts; rapid antigen testing; and continuing public health measures.

Read the full statement.

Ara Poutama Aotearoa's process for assigned counsel contacting clients in custody prior to trial

01/03/2022

With the rapidly increasing prevalence of Covid-19 in our communities, Ara Poutama Aotearoa has had to impose restrictions on in person visits to their sites.

The Chief Judges of the High and District Courts, Justice Thomas and Judge Taumaunu raised concerns on behalf of the Judiciary and legal profession that restricting in person visits for counsel may have a negative impact on the preparation for some trials.

As such, Ara Poutama Aotearoa has made some amendments to their processes to improve access to clients for assigned counsel. At a high level and at present, Ara Poutama Aotearoa's processes for contact with clients prior to trial are phone contact, audio-visual link and in person visits. 

For information on these processes, read the full media statement.

FAQs from the Ministry of Justice

16/02/2022

The Ministry of Justice has compiled a list of answers to the questions raised by the profession regarding court operations.

Download the FAQs

Revised court protocols published today, operational from Monday 14 February 2022

10/02/2022

The Chief Justice has published revised protocols for the operation of the Courts of New Zealand. The protocols have been adjusted to allow for an extended period in the Red traffic light setting, following the Government's announcement of its three-phased public health response to the Omicron variant on 26 January 2022.

Read the revised protocols on the Courts of NZ website.

Read the Chief Justice's statement.

COVID-19 related queries

For COVID-19 queries related to the legal profession please email: 
Covid-19@lawsociety.org.nz

Please refer to the guidance for lawyers section below for further information on these updates.

Courts, Corrections and Parole

Revised court operating protocols published today

04/04/2022

The Prime Minister has announced that as at 11:59pm tonight, vaccine passes will no longer be mandatory under the COVID-19 Protection Framework. The court operating protocols have been revised following this announcement, and are now available on the Courts of New Zealand website.

Chief Justice Rt Hon Dame Helen Winkelmann has outlined the main changes to the protocols published today:

  • Vaccine passes are no longer an entry requirement to courts
  • There are new testing requirements for people attending court for a day or more.

View the Chief Justice's statement on revised protocols

The Ministry of Justice is working to implement judicial changes to court operating protocols. There have been changes to entry requirements:

  • as of Friday 25 March, there was no need to scan a QR code or complete a record for contact tracing at entry.
  • from Tuesday 5 April, a My Vaccine Pass or a negative test will no longer be required to enter court or tribunal buildings.

View the Ministry of Justice's letter to the profession

Masks will still need to be worn in all courts and tribunals.

Extensive use of remote hearings will continue where that is permitted by law, to reduce the need for defendants and others to attend court.

Update on jury trial bubble guidelines

04/03/2022

The Chief High Court and Chief District Court Judges have released updated guidelines for the conduct of jury trials in the High Court and District Court, with effect from Monday 7 March 2022.

For information on these guidelines, read the full statement.

Ara Poutama Aotearoa's process for assigned counsel contacting clients in custody prior to trial

01/03/2022

With the rapidly increasing prevalence of Covid-19 in our communities, Ara Poutama Aotearoa has had to impose restrictions on in person visits to their sites.

The Chief Judges of the High and District Courts, Justice Thomas and Judge Taumaunu raised concerns on behalf of the Judiciary and legal profession that restricting in person visits for counsel may have a negative impact on the preparation for some trials.

As such, Ara Poutama Aotearoa has made some amendments to their processes to improve access to clients for assigned counsel. At a high level and at present, Ara Poutama Aotearoa's processes for contact with clients prior to trial are phone contact, audio-visual link and in person visits. 

For information on these processes, read the full media statement.

Remote Courts Trial

11/02/2022

The Chief District Court Judge invited over 20 District Court Judges in over 10 locations around the country to participate in a Remote Courts trial. As a central feature of the trial, the presiding judge has conducted the proceedings from another location using remote technology. All other participants in the proceedings have appeared in-person inside the courtroom.

The remote courts trial has intentionally operated in court locations to plan and build resilience where Omicron is present in the local community.

Read the Chief District Court Judge's full statement.

Filing and payment of fees

The courts will continue to receive filing of court documents and payment of fees in all proceedings, in accordance with usual arrangements for electronic filing and payment. Parties can File and Pay online.

Courts (including registry counters) will be closed to the public. Individual courts may have arrangements for filing of documents by drop-box – see the courts’ protocol for further details.

Family

Update on shared parenting

Updated information and guidance for parents and lawyers can be found on the Ministry of Justice website.

Check the guidance on shared parenting released by Principal Family Court Judge Jackie Moran on 24 March 2020.

Swearing of Affidavits

Check the level 4 protocol for the swearing of affidavits.

In short, the protocol says:

Unsworn affidavits

If parties are not able to sign affidavits or swear them in front of an independent lawyer or registrar, they will be accepted for filing by the Court and referred to a Judge for directions.

If a lawyer is acting, and it is a without notice application, the court will be assisted by the lawyer acting including in the requisite memorandum certification to the following effect:

"The affidavit was prepared in accordance with the deponent's specific instructions. It was read to them or an electronic version provided to them.The deponent confirmed that they fully understood the affidavit, and that the contents of it were true and correct."

This can also be used for on notice applications when time is of the essence, if affidavits cannot be sworn, with the certification replacing the deponent's signature and jurat.

Alternatively, a memorandum of counsel should be filed:

(i) confirming that the document contains the same evidentiary matter as the affidavit that the intending deponent would have sworn to or affirmed had an emergency not existed; and

(ii) undertaking that an affidavit containing the same evidentiary matter as that presented for filing will be filed as soon as circumstances reasonably permit.

Property

Update from Toitu Te Whenua (Land Information New Zealand)

See the LINZ website for updated information about its services during the current Covid-19 Alert Level restrictions.

LINZ has developed an interim guideline – LINZ OP G 01247 - to assist practitioners who are, for the time being, unable to interact with their clients other than by remote means of communication.

ANZ – guidance for lawyers

ANZ has released guidance for lawyers, outlining what the bank’s requirements are for Alert Levels 4 and 3.

Free webinar

A free webinar (from March 2020) is available on the CLE website covering property matters during lockdown. This was a Q and A session with the former Chair of the Property Law Section Duncan Terris and the Registrar General of Land Robbie Muir.

Watch the webinar

Update from Ministry of Justice

Read the Ministry’s guidance for lawyers on property sales and settlements during Covid-19

Wills, EPAs, Oaths and Declarations

The government made Immediate Modification Orders to the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957, the Wills Act 2007 and the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 (Enduring Powers of Attorney) in response to the restrictions of COVID-19. These still apply.

Read the advice on the Ministry of Justice website, download an opinion and download a template certificate.

The legislation can be found here:

Epidemic Preparedness (Oaths and Declarations Act 1957) Immediate Modification Order 2020

Epidemic Preparedness (Wills Act 2007—Signing and Witnessing of Wills) Immediate Modification Order 2020

Epidemic Preparedness (Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988—Enduring Powers of Attorney) Immediate Modification Order 2020

Employment

Update from Employment Relations Authority

Specific guidance about how Authority will operate under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights system) will be issued once the Authority has considered COVID-19 related risk assessments from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment which provides Authority premises and investigation meeting venues.

We expect these assessments to be available in mid-December 2021. Meanwhile, the Authority will contact parties and representatives to discuss arrangements regarding in person investigation meetings scheduled during the next three weeks.

In-person investigations meetings

Where appropriate the Authority may continue investigations of some matters via teleconference, audio-visual link or by considering written evidence and written submissions only.  

For more information visit the Authority’s website for the latest information.

Adjourned investigation meetings

All postponed investigation meetings will be placed on the Authority prioritised waitlist. Parties and representatives will be contacted by the Authority when it is ready to proceed to investigate their matter.

Lodging new applications

Parties and representatives are encouraged to lodge new applications to the Authority online or as an attachment to an email.

Case management conferences

Authority Members will convene case management conferences by telephone with parties or their representatives to discuss arrangements for dealing with new applications.

Support for lawyers’ wellbeing

The Legal Community Counselling Service provides the option for counselling via phone or videolink as well as face to face.

The Law Society’s Practising Well initiative provides access to other support and resources for lawyers.

Ministry of Health guidelines on managing your mental health are on the Ministry of Health website.

For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can also call or text 1737 to talk with a trained counsellor for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Now also might be the time to consider mentoring. Our Mentoring Programme uses an online platform called MentorLoop, which matches mentors and mentees based on their profiles.

The Programme is free to join, to get started:

  1. email mentoring@lawsociety.org.nz for more information
  2. you will be sent details of how to sign up to MentorLoop and will be asked to agree to the Terms and Conditions, and Code of Conduct
  3. create your profile by answering a series of questions about yourself; every fortnight MentorLoop matches mentors with mentees, and you will be notified if you have been matched with someone.

Questions or concerns

For COVID-19 health advice and information, contact the Ministry of Health’s Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMS.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please email covid-19@lawsociety.org.nz

This page will be updated with any further advice for lawyers.

On this page you will find all the latest information about how New Zealand’s response to COVID-19 is impacting the legal profession. We will continue to update this page if alert levels change and will provide regular updated advice from reputable sources for the law profession.

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