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BBW Lawyers’ COVID-19 Update: Transitioning Out of COVID-19 Restrictions

A COVID-19 update on NSW Courts

By John Fairgray, Luis Ormazabal, Balveen Saini & Nicholas O’Connor – BBW Lawyers

This update is the third part in the BBW Lawyers’ series considering the COVID-19 crisis and its effects on Commercial Law and Legal and Debt Recoveries.

The first part of our series provided a summary of the legal changes and temporary measures implemented by the federal government. 

Read Part 1: Effects of Legal and Debt Recoveries

The second part of our series provided a summary the Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 under the Electronic Transactions Act 2020, and what that means when swearing or affirming documents.

Read Part 2: Witnessing Documents in Isolation

This third part looks at the transition from COVID-19 restrictions to a business as usual approach in the New South Wales Courts.

The government’s temporary relief measures, relating to statutory demands and bankruptcy notices, which came into effect on 25 March 2020, continue to apply. They are scheduled to cease on 24 September 2020. We will provide further updates on these temporary relief measures as and when circumstances change.

The courts in New South Wales

The courts are beginning to implement a progressive, phased return to in-person hearings which is expected to be seen in the coming months, and will reflect the advice of the government.

By way of summary, please see below the updated position in the different court jurisdictions following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions:

Court Jurisdiction

Implemented Changes

Local Court of NSW The Local Court of NSW Sydney Civil Registry is in the process of progressing to a phased return to in-person hearings for General Division matters. This includes confirming previously allocated Hearing dates which were vacated due to COVID-19.

We expect that these measures will eventually extend to Small Claims Division matters as restrictions continue to ease.   

District Court of NSW As at 1 June 2020, the District Court of NSW began to allow some in-person attendances for certain matters, however, the general position of the District Court is to limit in-person appearances where possible, through the continued use of the Virtual Courtroom.
Supreme Court of NSW As of 9 June 2020, the Supreme Court of NSW, implemented a staged return to in-person Court attendance.

Matters will continue to be case managed to ensure that limited in-person attendance is required, with matters to be undertaken via audio-visual links and other means where possible.

Federal Circuit Court Current Federal Circuit Court listings are subject to a face-to-face in Court protocol.

In addition to only providing the ability for urgent listings to be held in-person (provided that they are unable to conducted via telephone), the number of people in each Court has been limited, with strict social distancing measures being enforced.

For further information or should you require any assistance, please contact John Fairgray (Partner) jfairgray@bbwlaw.com.au, Luis Ormazabal (Senior Associate) lormazabal@bbwlaw.com.au or Balveen Saini (Associate) bsaini@bbwlaw.com.au.

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About BBW Lawyers

BBW Lawyers’ commercial, insolvency and debt recovery team works closely with a number of prominent NSW and Australian companies and organisations in providing strategic advice and dedicated legal services. The team comprises of industry specialists who are active members of, and contributors to, the Australian Institute of Credit Management (NSW Divisional President – Balveen Saini, 2019 Legal Representative of the Year – Luis Ormazabal), as well as having extensive experience in all Courts and Tribunals.

© BBW Lawyers 2020. This is general commentary and should not be relied upon as if it were legal advice. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any process without written permission from BBW Lawyers.