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COVID-19 practice directions

COVID-19 practice directions at the Magistrates' Court

Practice Direction No.5 of 2020

Consistent with health directions, the Magistrates' Court is limiting the number of people permitted inside the court building. From 9 April 2020, matters may be adjourned to an undisclosed date (currently around 6 months into the future) and depending on what matter is being heard, clients may be excused from attendance. If your client's matter is adjourned under this Practice Direction, please continue to check with the Magistrates' Court or via EFAS to confirm the new listing date.

It is best practice to confirm, in writing, with the Magistrates' Court that you have advised the client of the adjournment and that they are not required to attend at the Magistrates' Court on the relevant date.

Practice Direction No.8 of 2020

From 7 May 2020, the Magistrates' Court commenced hearing pleas for summary offences on the papers (including proceedings commenced following enforcement review). This means that lawyers and clients do not need to attend Court. Instead, the Magistrate will preside over the case with the written submissions from each party. In some instances, seeking to have a client's matter determined on the papers may be beneficial as it may provide a quicker resolution of the client's matter where it would be otherwise adjourned under Practice Direction No. 5.

However, given the difficulties of conveying a client's particular vulnerabilities through an application on the papers, the benefits and risks of proceeding under this Practice Direction should be carefully considered and explained to the client. If the client wishes to proceed with a plea on the papers, instructions need to be provided by the client to that effect. The client should also be advised of the process and provided with the sentencing outcome.