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Audio Visual Links

This pamphlet gives defence counsel an overview of AVL for the criminal jurisdiction in District Courts - July 2011.

Audio Visual Links (AVL) uses audio-visual conferencing technology to allow people to participate in a court proceeding without having to be in the courtroom.

This pamphlet gives defence counsel an overview of AVL for the criminal jurisdiction in District Courts.

AVL is available for a wide range of hearings, and is standard for administrative appearances, where facilities are available.


Using audio visual links in the courtroom

AVL hearings go ahead in much the same way as a normal case. On the day of the AVL appearance the registrar will call the case after the court has been opened and the judicial officer is seated. At the prison, the custodial officer will put the defendant into the AVL booth and they will appear on the screen in court. The judicial officer will talk to counsel to progress the case.

A defendant appearing by AVL can see and hear what is happening in the court and is able to see part of the public gallery.

Public gallery

In the public gallery there are specific seats where family members, victims or those interested in being seen by the defendant can be seated. There is a limited amount of seating available and is filled on a first come, first served basis. If there is an application to close the court or there is a potential security risk the judicial officer may order the camera pointing at the public gallery be turned off.

Last minute instructions

You can take last minute instructions from your client from a handset, which connects the courtroom to the AVL booth at the prison. As you would if your client was in the courtroom, you must ask permission of the judicial officer before you can use the handset.

When the handset is lifted it will temporarily disable the audio and video feeds between the defendant and the court so you can communicate privately. The normal AVL feed resumes when you replace the handset.

AVL Cases

Generally it is only defendants in custody for summary, indictable and jury matters who will appear in court via AVL.

For a complete list of all types of appearance that will make use of AVL please check the operating guidelines for each court or contact the court AVL co-ordinator.

Every courtroom is different but the diagram below shows the general layout of a court and instructions suite using AVL.

AVL Courtroom 

Using the instruction suite

You can use AVL to save time and money. The instructions suite allows secure and private communication between you and your client, if they are in a prison with an AVL suite. The instructions suite maintains the right of your client to be fully informed and participate in their own defence.

You can book 15 minute slots in the instructions suite through the courts AVL co-ordinator. The court AVL co-ordinator will give you guidelines on how to use the suite when they confirm your booking.

Only you, court staff or people with bookings made through the court AVL coordinator are allowed in the instructions suite. No family members or associates are allowed. There are also security measures in place to prevent unauthorised access.

AVL co-ordinators: courts & prisons

Co-ordinators will manage all AVL between the district courts and the prisons.

The court AVL co-ordinator is based at the district court, and will manage all cases set for an AVL appearance and bookings for the instructions suite. The court AVL co-ordinator is also responsible for training and providing support to you.

The prison AVL co-ordinator is based at the prison and manages the prisoners for both their court appearances and their contact with you in the instructions suite.


The Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010 enables anyone appearing at court to appear via AVL. It is ultimately the judicial officer’s decision whether someone appears in court via AVL. Any party can apply (orally or in writing) for AVL to be used or a judicial officer may decide to use of AVL on their own initiative. AVL can be used in the following types of proceedings:

  • Criminal procedural matters
  • Criminal substantive matters
  • Civil matters.

Criminal procedural matters

This is for criminal hearings where no evidence will be presented. Judicial officers must consider using AVL where the technology is available, taking into account the criteria outlined in sections 5 and 6 of the Act.

Criminal substantive matters

This is for criminal hearings where evidence will be presented. A judicial officer may decide to allow the use of AVL. As for criminal procedural matters, sections 5 and 6 of the Act must be taken into account in the judicial officer’s decision. But the Act specifically requires a defendant’s consent before AVL can be used if the appearance is for a trial that determines their guilt or innocence.

Civil Matters

Rules for civil cases are unchanged by the Act. You can use AVL in the same way you always have.

Please note that the ordinary rules of court procedure apply to any proceeding when someone is appearing by AVL, unless changes are needed to accommodate AVL.


For the contact details for the court AVL co-ordinators and more information go to: 

Published by the Ministry of Justice - July 2011
2011 © Crown Copyright

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