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Going to Court: COVID-19 and the Environment, Resources and Development Court

Updated 27 March 2020

Key points: 

  • Courts are operating, albeit in an altered capacity
  • Statutory timeframes for filing of appeals and applications to the Court must still be met
  • Court information protocols are regularly being reviewed and updated- please check websites
  • What you need to do if attending Court
  • Electronic submissions
  • Party attendance by tele-conference and other means 

In these uncertain times it is hard to know what is and is not permitted, particularly with Federal and State Government directives being issued on a daily basis.

What we can tell you is that for present purposes the Court system will continue to administer justice. The Courts are therefore still operating, albeit in an altered capacity.  This means that matters already in Court, applications to Court and the filing of appeals etc. will still continue until further notice.

More importantly, statutory timeframes for filing of appeals and applications to the Court must still be met. Court Orders must also be complied with, unless alternative Orders are sought and made.

The South Australian Courts Administration Authority have issued numerous information updates modifying the practice and procedures of the Courts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Supreme, District and Magistrates Court have released information statements in relation to their altered protocols. No formal directive has been issued for the Environment, Resources and Development Court (ERD Court) in relation to matters that fall within its jurisdiction and are currently being managed on a case by case basis.  Until we hear otherwise, commonsense must prevail.

Some guidance can be drawn from the new protocols in place concerning District Court matters. Please note that the Court information protocols are regularly being reviewed and updated.  If you are unsure about a certain matter or how to proceed in the circumstances, then you may wish to contact the ERD Court registry directly on (08) 8204 0289 or you can visit the Courts Administration Authority information and updates which can be found at http://www.courts.sa.gov.au/information/pages/coronavirus-information.aspx

In summary, when going to Court:

  • Maintaining social distancing of 1.5 metres, which must be adhered to strictly while in Court buildings
  • Not to enter the Court buildings if you are a class of person who is required to isolate yourself by public health directive or advice;
  • Notifying the Court at least 24 hours prior to a hearing, if you are an ‘at risk’ person or are generally concerned and do not feel comfortable to attend Court in person, due to risk of infection.
  • With respect to new matters and existing matters, the case list shows (http://www.courts.sa.gov.au/CaseLists/Pages/ERD-Civil.aspx) that conferences and directions hearings are still occurring. **Update** On 27 March the Higher Courts Registry, which includes the ERD Court, issued information advising that personal attendance at the courts should be avoided where practical. This relates mainly to filing documents but there is a clear intention to avoid personal attendances where practical.  

If you do have a matter in the Court, the  following may assist:

  • Dealing with matters administratively wherever possible;
  • Attendance of parties at conferences by tele-conference or similar where required;
  • Sending in Consent Orders or written submission electronically to the ERD Court Registry

Alternatively if you are unrepresented and require any assistance with existing matters you have in the ERD Court or any new matters, then please do not hesitate to contact one of our key team members listed below.  

Disclaimer

The content of this newsletter is for general information purposes only and should in no way be treated as formal legal advice.