COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system) – protocol for Human Rights Review Tribunal

This protocol outlines how the Tribunal will operate at Green, Orange and Red settings under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (CPF) also known as the traffic light system adopted from 11:59 pm on 2 December 2021.

CPF setting Red

1. Where in any area of New Zealand CPF setting Red applies, the Tribunal will not in that area hold in-person hearings unless circumstances of urgency or other compelling reason can be established and the hearing itself can be held and conducted in a manner which complies with all relevant CPF setting Red requirements. Priority proceedings will include matters considered to be of such significant national or community importance that the immediate attention of the Tribunal is warranted.

2. Hearings on the papers (including interim order applications), case management teleconferences and the delivery of decisions and minutes will continue.

3. Any scheduled oral in-person hearing in a location where CPF setting Red restrictions are put in place will be vacated unless circumstances of urgency or other compelling reason can be established and the hearing itself can be held and conducted in a manner which complies with all relevant CPF setting Red requirements. The Case Manager will advise the parties.

4. Any scheduled teleconference will proceed as scheduled. Telephone conferences on new matters will be scheduled as normal. Adjournments may be sought if required.

5. All documents are to be filed and served by email.

6. Timetable directions made prior to and during the coming into effect of CPF setting Red restrictions will continue to apply. Leave to vary any particular timetable step must be sought before the date on which that step is to be completed.

7. Oral in-person hearings will not be scheduled. Where appropriate interlocutory matters before the Tribunal will be determined on the papers or, if required (and subject to the availability of the relevant technical facilities) by hearings conducted by audio-visual link (AVL) or other remote means.

8. Where new proceedings are filed and CPF setting Red restrictions make service on the defendant impractical, service will be postponed until circumstances permit service in a manner which complies with all relevant CPF traffic light requirements. A defendant served while CPF setting Red restrictions apply and who faces difficulty filing a statement of reply within the 22 working day period prescribed by the Human Rights Review Tribunal Regulations 2002, reg 15(1) can apply for an extension of time under reg 15(3) of those regulations. The Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006, Schedule 2, cl 1 may also have application.

CPF settings at Orange and Green

1. At CPF settings at Orange and Green the Tribunal will conduct proceedings in person subject to workforce capacity levels and the requirement to observe requisite physical distancing and heightened hygiene practices. Where practicable and fair, proceedings may be conducted remotely to reduce in-person appearances.

2. It is preferred that all documents be filed and served by email. Where email is used, hard copy (four copies) must also be filed if any document is longer than 10 pages.

3. Any scheduled telephone conference will proceed as scheduled and telephone conferences on new matters will be scheduled as normal.

4. Timetable directions made prior to and during a CPF setting at Orange or Green will continue to apply. Leave to vary any particular timetable step must be sought before the date on which that step is to be completed.

5. Matters before the Tribunal will be determined by way of oral in-person hearings, AVL hearings, hearings by telephone or on the papers as directed by the Tribunal. Where possible hearings vacated during any CPF setting Red will be given priority when hearings are rescheduled.

Remote participation

In all cases the Tribunal will, either on application or on its own motion, consider remote means of participation by counsel, the parties and their witnesses provided such participation is practicable and fair in all the circumstances. Events conducted by remote participation may be conducted by video-link, telephone or MS Teams. Where the hearing is conducted by MS Teams, the recording of the hearing will be initially stored in an offshore Microsoft cloud based service in Australia. After the hearing, it will be downloaded into the Ministry server and stored on the same basis as for in person hearings.

Entry requirements for courthouses and other buildings in which the Tribunal conducts hearings at Green, Orange and Red settings

Under Green, Orange and Red settings, every person entering a court building or building in which the Tribunal conducts a hearing, must comply with the entry requirements and health and safety requirements prescribed by the COVID-19 Protection Framework – Green, Orange and Red Protocol (commencing on 26 April 2022)(external link) issued by the Chief District Court Judge.

Media access to courts

Accredited news media can attend Tribunal hearings in person at any setting (provided they meet the entry requirements referred to above) to report Tribunal proceedings, and to ensure continued open and transparent justice.

Remote access for accredited news media will be considered on request.

If you have any further questions, please email HRRT@justice.govt.nz

Rodger Haines ONZM QC
Chairperson Human Rights Review Tribunal
4 May 2022

Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT), Te Taraipiunara Mana Tangata

 The Human Rights Review Tribunal hears claims relating to breaches of the:

Before making a claim to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, you must first make a complaint to either:

Claims could relate to discrimination, sexual harassment and racial harassment, privacy principles, and the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.

Awarding damages

The tribunal can award compensatory damages for losses suffered. Awards are typically for injury to feelings, humiliation and loss of dignity.

There is a $350,000 limit on the money the tribunal may award. This is the same as the District Court.

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