COVID-19 Information - 28 March

This page was last updated on 28 March at 6.45pm

IMPORTANT: If you are unwell, do not attend court or any other public place. Please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) for further instruction.

Public access to courts is being limited for safety reasons. You can only enter the District Court or High Court for criminal proceedings if you are required to be there for business of the court. Witnesses, complainants, supporters and members of the public cannot enter the courthouse without advance permission of the presiding judge. To get permission to attend proceedings in person, please contact 0800 COURTS. This request cannot be made in person as all public counters at the courts are now closed to the public.

If you need to attend court for priority family court proceedings or civil proceedings, please call 0800 268 787 for assistance.

We will accept Police bail, including those whose bail date has expired. More information will be provided.

Read Chief Justice Dame Helen Winkelmann's media statement [PDF, 182 KB]

On this page:

COVID-19 Alert Level 4: eliminate

The Government has announced a four-stage alert system for COVID-19:

COVID-19 Alert System(external link)

New Zealand is on COVID-19 Alert Level 4: eliminate. The Ministry of Justice is working closely with other government departments to continuously reassess our services and the current situation.

Only priority justice services will continue to operate during COVID-19 Alert Level 4.

In almost all cases, conferences and hearings will be conducted remotely by telephone or audio-visual link. However, court attendance in person may sometimes be required.

We are adhering to Ministry of Health guidelines and government instructions in relation to COVID-19. The safety and wellbeing of court users and staff is our highest priority.

Read our FAQs about COVID-19

What court services have been impacted?

IMPORTANT: Due to the current COVID-19 situation, some courts will be closed or operating at reduced capacity. Please check the Court and Tribunals Closures page or call 0800 COURTS if you have any questions.

Only priority justice services will continue to operate during COVID-19 Alert Level 4.

Priority services are:

  • High Court
    • Custodial remands
    • Mental Health disposition
    • Urgent Bail appeals.
  • District Court (Criminal – where the defendant is in custody):
    • Public order offenders
    • Bail applications (including breaches)
    • Sentencing those already in custody
    • Deportation warrants
    • Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 hearings
    • Breach of Police Safety Orders (PSOs).
  • District Court (Civil)
    • Injunctions
    • Harassment orders
    • Harmful digital communications
    • Tenancy Tribunal appeals against evictions.
  • Youth Court
    • Arrests (first appearances)
    • Secure care applications
    • Bail applications
    • Review of custody
    • Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 hearings
    • Early release hearings.
  • Family Court
    • Public Health Order applications
    • Without notice applications: Care and protection (s67 and s 78 immediate uplift)
    • Protection and related Orders (Family Violence Act)
    • Care of Children applications (family violence related)
    • Mental Health (applications for compulsory treatment orders) hearings
    • Other without notice applications: PPPR & PRA hearings
    • Hague Convention hearings
    • Substance Addiction (Compulsory Treatment) hearings
    • s 67 Care and Protection hearings.

If your matter does not relate to this list, please do not come to court. Cases that are not priority proceedings will be rescheduled to the next available date. The registry will advise participants of this. Please note there may be a delay in doing this due to the volume of cases required to be rescheduled.

If you are unsure about when to next appear, please speak to your lawyers or ring the Ministry of Justice Contact Centre (0800 COURTS or 0800 268 787).

If you were scheduled to attend court and are unwell, or you have been instructed to self-isolate, please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) for further instruction.

Information for all court users

IMPORTANT: If you are unwell, do not attend court or any other public place. Please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) for further instruction.

Anyone attending court is advised to follow the advice of the Ministry of Health(external link) and;

  • do not come to court if you are unwell
  • do not come to court if you have been instructed to self-isolate
  • let court staff know if you become unwell in court
  • practice coughing and sneezing etiquette
  • wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap.

If you were scheduled to attend court and are unwell, or you have been instructed to self-isolate, please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) to discuss your particular case.

According to the Ministry of Health, the risk is the greatest within one metre. Physical distancing is about creating more space between people. You should consider physical distancing to be the norm during our response to COVID-19.

Specific information for attending court on the Courts of New Zealand website(external link)

Current information and advice for the general public can be found at:

The government's dedicated COVID-19 website(external link)

The Ministry of Health website(external link)

Higher call volumes

We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls and so there may be longer wait times on the phone with our call centres. We would appreciate your patience with staff during this time as we work to get to your call as soon as possible.

Jury trials

All new jury trials have been suspended from Monday 23 March for two months up to 15 May 2020. The Chief Justice directed this as a precautionary measure. The Chief Justice is the head of the New Zealand judiciary and presides over the Supreme Court of New Zealand.

Jury trials that started prior to Monday 23 March will continue as scheduled. More information for jurors can be found below.

The suspension will be reviewed regularly and may be revised based on any new advice received.

Information for jurors

The Ministry is working quickly to contact all affected court participants, including jurors. If you are a juror who has been summonsed for trials from Monday 23 March, please do NOT come to court. If you have any questions relating to your summons, please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787).

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on the weekend, the Chief Justice wrote a letter to the legal profession regarding arrangements in light of COVID-19:

Chief Justice letter to the legal profession [PDF, 184KB](external link)

You can also read:

Announcements and information from the Chief Justice for the legal profession(external link)

More information on legal aid services response to COVID-19 can be found on What's new for legal aid lawyers.

Special sittings

Special sittings and admission ceremonies may be affected. If you planned to attend any of these, please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) to confirm what arrangements are being made.

Information on all court sittings or any special arrangements that may be necessary will be updated on our website or the Courts of New Zealand website:

Courts of New Zealand(external link)

Information for fines payments

If your circumstances have changed and you are having trouble paying your fines, the court may be able to extend the due date or offer an alternative payment plan.

If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to call us on 0800 4 FINES (0800 434 637).

Justices of the Peace

Justice of the Peace services have been suspended in response to the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 status. Please check in with the agency you are preparing documents for to obtain further advice before attempting to visit the court as many regulatory requirements have been suspended as a result of COVID-19 level 4 status.

More information can be found on this website:

Justices of the Peace(external link)

Alcohol and Other Drugs Treatment Court

These hearings will operate via phone for participants. The court will be in touch to provide more detail on how to do this.

Information on Provider services

The Ministry funds a range of justice services from external third-party providers, to deliver programmes to participants of the court process. In response to COVID-19 Level 4, some of these services are non-essential.

Essential services will be delivered remotely where possible. This includes:

  • Family violence programmes (non-violence programmes, safety programmes, strengthening safety programmes)
  • Whanau protect
  • Public trust
  • Victim Support.
  • Non-essential services may postpone delivering services during this period. This includes:
  • Restorative justice (RJ)
  • Family disputes resolution (FDR)
  • Parenting through separation (PTS)
  • Harmful digital communications (Netsafe / HDC)
  • Community law centres
  • National Sexual Violence Survivor Advocacy service
  • Matariki Court.

More information

If we work together, be kind to each other and follow the guidance from the Government, we can all protect ourselves and help slow the spread of the virus. Further questions? Call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787).

For more advice and information on COVID-19:

health advice and information, contact the Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453. Interpreters are available.

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