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. At 23 January 2022 at 11:59pm New Zealand moved to the Red setting of the traffic light system, and the Law Society's offices are all operating with our Red protocol for visitors

Overview on Law Society Premises and Contracted Events Venues

From 3 December 2021, all Law Society premises and contracted events venues will grant immediate entry only to those who declare their vaccination status and can show proof of vaccination (via a current Vaccination Pass or certificate).

This will apply to all visitors, lawyers, contractors, staff, volunteers and suppliers who wish to enter.

It affects events and meetings, and any other request to gain entry.

It affects Law Society Libraries, and any contracted events venues where Law Society events are held.

The Law Society recognises that visitors to our premises have the right to choose to be unvaccinated.  Unvaccinated visitors will be asked to make arrangement to meet virtually (or can request an appointment for a safe, face to face meeting if needed).

A poster will display at the entrance of the premises showing who to contact to make this arrangement, should you need to.

QR code scanning will also be required on entry and anyone entering will also be required to follow Government protocols in the ‘traffic light’ system.

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

Read our overall Protocols:

Read our Libraries Protocols:

Read our Events Protocols.

Our main consideration in introducing these policies and protocols is your wellbeing and safety. 

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

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

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

COVID-19 Response Protocols - Red, Orange, Green; Libraries; Events

Under the COVID-19 Protection Framework and Law Society COVID-19 Response policy restrictions and requirements will apply differently to fully vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors.

Read the Protocols:

Current situation

Update on the Courts

Court operations under the COVID-19 Protection Framework

21/12/21

The Chief Justice has released the final media statement on Court operations for 2021.

Transitional protocols

Transitional protocols are currently in place that cover court operations up to 31 January 2022. They are available on the Courts of NZ website.

The Courts have developed protocols that align with the COVID-19 Protection Framework which will be implemented from 31 January. The protocols address health and safety issues arising from the pandemic while maintaining access to courts. All protocols will be published on the Courts of NZ website as they are finalised. 

Entry requirements to courthouses under the COVID-19 Protection Framework protocols

Under Green, Orange and Red settings, every person entering a court building will be asked to show their My Vaccine Pass or provide evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 test. A person who shows their My Vaccine Pass or provides evidence of a recent negative test will be able to enter the building.

In the High Court and the District Court (including the Family Court and Youth Court), people who are required to attend court in person will be allowed to enter the building even if they do not show a My Vaccine Pass or provide evidence of a negative test. However, their entry may be subject to special measures to manage health and safety risks.

Jury trials under the COVID-19 Protection Framework protocols

Jury trials are scheduled to begin from 31 January 2022 in the District Court, and from 8 February 2022 in the High Court. Jury trials in the High Court and District Court will be conducted at all Framework settings.

Key dates

  • 23 December 2021: Courts close for the year, other than the District Court
  • 24 December 2021: District Courts close for the year
  • 5 January 2022: All Courts re-open
  • 31 January 2022: District Court jury trials commence.
  • 31 January 2022: Courts begin operating in accordance with their new protocols under the COVID-19 Protection Framework, as operational capacity allows.
  • 8 February 2022: High Court jury trials commence

Read the Chief Justice's full statement on the Courts of New Zealand website.

Carrying out work where health services are provided

From Tuesday 16 November 2021, the COVID-19 Public Health Response (vaccinations) Order 2021 requires that people who carry out work where health services are provided to members of the public must be either fully vaccinated or have had the first vaccination dose.

Lawyers attending Mental Health Assessment (MHA) hearings at inpatient units and health service locations (eg facilities run by a DHB) are included in the scope of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (vaccinations) Order 2021.

Read more on the Ministry of Justice website.

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

Court operations from Monday 24 January to Friday 28 January

23/01/2022

The Courts will continue to operate according to their transitional protocols. Under the transitional Red protocols, wherever possible, court work will be done remotely in order to limit the number of people required to attend court in person. The presiding judge may direct otherwise. All Court protocols are available on the Courts of New Zealand website

The Chief Justice has released a statement about court operations and making sure the courts can continue to administer justice, with the minimum of disruption and delay possible, in the face of an Omicron outbreak. 

Read the Chief Justice's statement.

District Court Covid 19 Protection Framework - Green, Orange and Red Protocol

This protocol commences on 31 January 2022 and set out practices to be applied in the Criminal, Youth, Family, and Civil divisions of the District Court.

Read the full protocol on the Courts of NZ website

Protocol: Modification of jury rules for High Court and District Court jury trials from 24 January 2022

The Chief High Court Judge and Chief District Court Judge have made modifications to the Jury Rules which will come into effect January 2022. These changes have been made pursuant to section 24A Epidemic Preparedness Act.

The purpose of these changes are:

  • to allow for prospective jurors to assemble in different areas of the courthouse. Enabling physical distancing and different groupings of prospective jurors.
  • to provide for pre-balloting to take place at a different location where there are size constraints at the courthouse.
  • To enable pre-balloting to take place on a day before the trial is due to commence so that only those jurors who have been balloted need to return on the day of the trial.
  • To allow for pre-balloting to take place without prospective jurors being present but with them having the ability to be connected if they desire and for counsel and the parties to attend if they wish.

The full protocol is available on the Courts of NZ website.

Court operations under the COVID-19 Protection Framework

21/12/21

The Chief Justice has released the final media statement on Court operations for 2021.

Transitional protocols

Transitional protocols are currently in place that cover court operations up to 31 January 2022. They are available on the Courts of NZ website.

The Courts have developed protocols that align with the COVID-19 Protection Framework which will be implemented from 31 January. The protocols address health and safety issues arising from the pandemic while maintaining access to courts. All protocols will be published on the Courts of NZ website as they are finalised. 

Entry requirements to courthouses under the COVID-19 Protection Framework protocols

Under Green, Orange and Red settings, every person entering a court building will be asked to show their My Vaccine Pass or provide evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 test. A person who shows their My Vaccine Pass or provides evidence of a recent negative test will be able to enter the building.

In the High Court and the District Court (including the Family Court and Youth Court), people who are required to attend court in person will be allowed to enter the building even if they do not show a My Vaccine Pass or provide evidence of a negative test. However, their entry may be subject to special measures to manage health and safety risks.

Jury trials under the COVID-19 Protection Framework protocols

Jury trials are scheduled to begin from 31 January 2022 in the District Court, and from 8 February 2022 in the High Court. Jury trials in the High Court and District Court will be conducted at all Framework settings.

Key dates

  • 23 December 2021: Courts close for the year, other than the District Court
  • 24 December 2021: District Courts close for the year
  • 5 January 2022: All Courts re-open
  • 31 January 2022: District Court jury trials commence.
  • 31 January 2022: Courts begin operating in accordance with their new protocols under the COVID-19 Protection Framework, as operational capacity allows.
  • 8 February 2022: High Court jury trials commence

Read the Chief Justice's full statement on the Courts of New Zealand website.

Protecting prisoners against COVID-19

The Department for Corrections has released information on its systems to protect prisons from COVID-19. For the release or bail of prisoners across the Auckland alert level boundaries, Corrections has outlined the requirements, systems, and processes pertaining to cross-boundary releases put in place to comply with relevant Health Orders. 

See the latest information from Corrections

Please note that the situation is evolving and there is potential for parts of these processes to be changed in future.

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.

Update from Corrections

Prisons have suspended face-to-face visits by legal advisers. Visits can still take place by other means, such as over the phone, AVL and Jabber where available.

Lawyers and prisoners can still also communicate via post, courier and email in line with the usual processes.

All prison sites will accept email communications, provided that emails are:

  • Sent to an official prison email address.
  • Sent from a recognised email address linked to the law firm, practice or organisation that is verifiable.
  • Sent with the following subject title: *Legally privileged correspondence/documents* [Prisoner SURNAME, FIRST NAME], [PRN and/or DOB], [UNIT if known].
  • Comprised of a cover letter and attachment(s) to total no more than 20 double sided pages.

Lawyers should please contact the relevant prison by phone if they do not already have a contact email address or to arrange a virtual visit by AVL or Jabber. A full list of current email addresses will be provided in the coming days.

Parole Board Hearings

8/12/21

All New Zealand Parole Board hearings will continue to operate via MS Teams with preparations underway for the Board to return to in-person hearings under the traffic light system in early 2022.

Counsel wishing to attend a hearing between now and February 2022 should contact Board administrators to confirm details.

For further guidance on vaccine and other requirements for in-person hearings being planned for next year please email info@paroleboard.govt.nz .

Please refer to the Parole Board website for more information. 

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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