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Audio Visual Links

  • Audio Visual Links (AVL) uses audiovisual conferencing technology to allow people to participate remotely in a court proceeding.

Following the enactment of legislation in 2010, AVL is now available for a wider range of hearings, and will be standard for administrative appearances, where facilities are available. While the Act enables wider use of AVL in court proceedings, the full extent of the opportunities to do so is dependent on the availability and suitability of technology. There are currently over 40 courtrooms and hearing rooms that have existing AVL facilities or can support leased AVL units. These units have primarily been used for civil matters and for witnesses giving evidence remotely.

AVL has the potential to generate time and cost efficiencies for many court participants, including lawyers, expert witnesses and interpreters, by reducing their need to be physically present in court.  Subject to facilities being available, participants will be able to use AVL, for example, for appearing before the court, giving evidence, providing interpretation services or observing court proceedings. 

AVL for Remand Prisoner appearances

After a successful six month pilot conducted in 2011 between Auckland District Court and Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF), AVL was transitioned into business as usual between MECF and Auckland District Court. AVL facilities were also then rolled out for use at the Manukau and Hamilton District Courts and the Department of Corrections installed facilities into both Waikeria Prison and Christchurch Mens Prison. The Ministry is currently completing the installation of AVL facilities into Christchurch District Court which was delayed due to the Christchurch Earthquake.

While the original starting point focused on appearances for remand prisoners, the intent is to roll it out more widely to courts, key areas, participants, and hearing types. The Ministry has the legislative protocol and policy basis to launch a strategic AVL framework, working with all sector partners.

Testing of AVL for the appearance of defendants in custody at the Mason Clinic (Auckland's Forensic Psychiatric Unit) commenced on 11 March 2013 between Auckland and Manukau District Courts only, at this stage. The testing will be monitored and reviewed and after six months testing the results will be published on this page.

The purpose of a phased approach is to enable court participants to become comfortable with the technology and fully assess the benefits it will deliver.

Defendants in custody can now appear by AVL for any of the following hearings:

  • Callovers (jury trial)
  • Bail applications
  • Suppression hearings
  • Electronic-monitoring bail applications
  • Further remands (list appearances)
  • Post-committal conferences (PCC)

Subsequently, testing of AVL for the appearance of defendants in custody at the Mason Clinic (Auckland's Forensic Psychiatric Unit) commenced on 11 March 2013 from Auckland and Manukau District Courts. The testing phase is scheduled for six months and then the results will be reviewed. The purpose of the testing phase is to enable court participants to become comfortable with the technology and fully assess the benefits it can deliver.

Legislation

The Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010 enables any person appearing at court to appear by AVL, where certain criteria are met.

Parties can apply (orally or in writing) for AVL to be used or a judicial officer or Registrar can consider the use of AVL on their own motion. There are three types of proceedings where AVL can be used:

  • criminal procedural matters (where no evidence will be presented):
    judicial officers are required to consider using AVL where the technology is available, taking into account certain criteria (contained in sections 5 and 6 of the Act).
  • criminal substantive matters (where evidence will be presented):
    AVL cannot be used unless the judicial officer decides to allow its use. The judicial officer must take into account the criteria in sections 5 and 6 of the Act, and whether the parties consent to its use. However, the Act specifically requires a defendant’s consent before AVL can be used if the appearance is for a trial which determines their guilt or innocence.
  • civil matters:
    AVL can be used where the judicial officer considers that the criteria would be satisfied. 

How to apply

Parties can apply (orally or in writing) for AVL to be used, or a judicial officer or Registrar can consider the use of AVL on their own motion. If you are a party and would like to apply in writing please use the AVL application form. Completed forms should be sent to the court; contact details can be accessed below:

Instructions Suite

Instruction Suite facilities are currently available at Auckland, Manukau and Hamilton District Courts and are available for lawyers to use to communicate with clients remanded in custody at either MECF, Waikeria Prison or Christchurch Mens Prison. The facilities are provided to allow lawyers to take instructions in a secure and private environment without having to travel to the prison.

Only counsel with bookings made through an AVL co-ordinator are permitted in the instructions suite and there are security measures in place to prevent unauthorised access. Counsel need to complete the Instructions Suite Booking Form and send it to the relevant AVL coordinator. 

Information for Court Participants

The Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections have developed AVL operating guidelines, and it is recommended that court participants familiarise themselves with these in advance of appearing for an AVL appearance.

This pamphlet gives Defence Counsel on overview of AVL for the criminal jurisdiction on the Auckland District Court.

Judicial Protocol

The Chief District Court Judge issued a judicial protocol in September 2012. The protocol has been developed to provide guidance to judicial officers and Registrars when determining whether AVL should be used for the appearance of a remand prisoner or presiding over an AVL hearing.

AVL and In-Court Media Coverage

Applications can be made for access to the AVL feed of the defendant in custody. This is done is the same way as the process for in-court media coverage. The process for in-court media coverage is set out in the in-court media coverage guidelines 2003.

If an application is granted for access Counsel will need to speak with the court AVL Coordinator to identify where the live feed plugs are located in the relevant courtroom.

Contacts

All media enquiries should be directed to:

Public Information

Phone: (04) 918 8836 or (027) 689 0667

Email: courts.media@justice.govt.nz