Changes to operations during the COVID-19 pandemic
All Magistrates’ Court venues remain open but to reduce the number of people in our buildings a range of non-urgent matters have been adjourned. Details below for criminal proceedings, civil jurisdiction, family violence protection and personal safety, and VOCAT matters.
Bail and summons matters
- All criminal proceedings (except filing hearings, committal mentions and committal hearings) where the accused is on summons or bail have been adjourned to the nominal date of 15 June 2020.
- For all summons and bail matters (excluding filing hearings, committal mentions and committal hearings) no attendance by the accused is required. Bail will be extended in the absence of the accused.
- Filing hearings will proceed in accordance with current practice. However, where an accused is on summons or bail, their attendance is not required provided their legal representative attends with instructions.
- Committal mentions will continue to be heard. Where an accused is on summons or bail, their attendance will not be required provided their legal representative attends with instructions. However, if the matter has resolved to a straight hand-up brief (SHUB) then the accused must attend.
Bail custody and summons contested committals
- Contested committal hearings will be abridged to the Monday of the week in which they are listed and then adjourned for special mention as follows:
- week commencing 30 March – listed special mention 22 April
- week commencing 6 April – listed special mention 29 April
- week commencing TUES 14 April (due to public holiday) – listed special mention 6 May
- week commencing 20 April – listed special mention 13 May
- week commencing 27 April – listed special mention 20 May
- week commencing 4 May – listed special mention 27 May
- week commencing 11 May – listed special mention 3 June
- No appearance is required by practitioners or accused at any special mention (unless the matter has resolved to a SHUB) as above provided they inform the court in writing no later than 3pm the preceding business day
- that they continue to act; and
- that they undertake to notify their client of the adjourned date and extension of bail.
- The court expects that legal practitioners and the prosecution will consult with each other and the court prior to the second special mention to obtain a suitable date for relisting of the contested committal.
- Where the accused is in custody, the court will continue to hear the following criminal proceedings via audio visual link (AVL):
- Filing hearings
- Committal mentions
- Summary jurisdiction applications and related pleas of guilty
- Applications for bail
- Applications to vary bail
- Applications to revoke bail
- Pleas of guilty in the summary stream
- Contest mentions
- Summary contests where the accused is in custody will be vacated and listed on the nominal date of 15 June 2020 for mention.
- The above procedures are subject to further direction of a magistrate.
Contact your local court for more information. Find a court.
Civil jurisdiction, family violence protection and personal safety, and VOCAT matters
- Civil jurisdiction
Attendance at court
- Unless directed otherwise no practitioners or parties are to attend court.
Initiation of proceedings
- All arrangements for the initiation of complaints by EDI remain unchanged.
- All other complaints initiated to be scanned and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Civil coordinator, 233 William St, Melbourne 3000
- The court will not accept complaints issued over the counter until further notice.
- All court documents require in addition to the address for service an email address and telephone and or mobile number.
- Proper venue of the court remains unaltered, but all filing of documents shall be as per the above email and postal address.
Service of proceedings
- In addition to the rules concerning personal service, personal service may be affected by registered post. An affidavit of service exhibiting an Australia Post received receipt shall be sufficient proof.
- In addition to the rules of ordinary service, ordinary service maybe affected by email.
- All parties are encouraged to resolve matters by consent consistent with the court's overarching obligations and to file consent orders with the court by email or post.
- Any unresolved matters may be heard upon application and parties shall file and serve any application in the usual way. All non-urgent applications will be heard on the papers with not more than two A4 pages of submissions and filed and exchanged by 2pm on the day prior to the application return date.
- For urgent applications, the application and affidavits in support shall be emailed to the court. A magistrate will consider the urgency and give directions to the party/parties. Only urgent applications are to be marked urgent for the attention of the registrar.
- Any decisions shall be delivered in writing, telephone conference or audio-visual link.
Direction hearing and applications
- All direction hearings and applications will be adjourned to a date to be fixed and directions will be given on the papers if appropriate.
- All proceedings will be referred to prehearing conference
- All prehearing conferences will be conducted by telephone conference with a prehearing conference registrars until further notice.
- All documents to be relied upon by the parties including medical reports and expert reports shall be exchanged 14 days prior to the prehearing conference date.
- In addition to any directions by the prehearing conference registrar any proceeding not resolved by prehearing conference shall be referred to an early neutral evaluation prior to any contest date being fixed.
- Seven days prior to the prehearing conference parties are to exchange; any offers of compromise, Calderbank offers, notices to admit, costs disclosure statements disclosing what each party has incurred to the date of the (a) prehearing conference; and (b) the anticipated costs incurred to the date of the hearing; and (c) the daily costs of the hearing; including solicitors fees, counsel fees and witness expenses and other disbursements incurred on a normal costs basis (party / party basis) on the applicable scale for hearing or arbitration.
Early neutral evaluations
- Upon the proceeding not being resolved at prehearing conference and prior to any matter being listed for a contested hearing all matters will be referred to early neutral evaluation (ENE) in accordance with existing Practice Directions.
- Parties by consent may request the matter be listed for ENE at any stage in the proceedings.
- Seven days prior to the ENE parties are to exchange any further; offers of compromise, Calderbank offers, notices to admit, and an updated costs disclosure statements disclosing what each party has incurred to the date of the (a) ENE and (b) the anticipated costs incurred to the date of the hearing and (c) the daily costs of the hearing; including solicitors fees, counsel fees and witness expenses and other disbursements and filed by each party with the court on the following email address and or mailed accordingly.
- Seven days prior to the ENE experts are required confer and file with the court a statement of agreed facts and disputed facts signed by both experts.
- The ENE shall be conducted by telephone conference or audio visual link as directed by the court.
- Should the proceeding not resolve at the ENE the court will give further directions for the conduct of the proceedings.
- All ENEs shall be conducted before a magistrate who will not hear the contested hearing.
- All contested hearings will be adjourned to a date to be fixed and directions be given to the conduct of the hearing.
- All contested matters adjourned will be listed for an ENE before any matter is relisted for contested hearing.
Post judgment procedures
- All post judgement applications such as attachment of orders, garnishee applications, installment order applications, summons for oral examinations will be conducted by a court registrar by phone conference or as the court directs.
- All consent orders, court documents and pleadings (apart from complaints as set out above) should be filed by email to the WorkCover registrar at email@example.com
- All contested hearings, directions hearings, mentions and applications already listed will be considered by the court on the allocated date.
- Unless draft consent orders are received by email or otherwise at Melbourne Magistrates' Court by 1pm on the allocated date, the proceedings will be adjourned to a date to be fixed.
- If a party in any WorkCover proceeding applies for an early neutral evaluation, a magistrate will hear same in accordance with the procedures as set out above.
- All WorkCover regional circuits will be suspended, and proceedings dealt with at Melbourne Magistrates' Court as set out above.
- Parties may seek consent orders at any time by emailing same to WorkCover registrar as set out above.
- Family violence protection and personal safety matters
All current relevant practice directions and listing protocols are suspended.
- New listing time frames will apply in relation to the following proceedings:
i. Intervention order applications under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (FV IVOs). This includes new applications and applications for variation, extension and revocation; and
ii. Intervention order applications under the Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 (PS IVOs). This includes new applications and applications for variation, extension and revocation; and
iii. Applications under the Family Law Act 1975; and
iv. Ancillary and other applications related to the proceedings referred to above, for example applications to be deemed a non-prohibited person under the Firearms Act 1996.
- The following listing time frames will apply:
- First listing dates for urgent applications, particularly in high risk circumstances, will be listed on a case by case basis. Direct contact should be made with the court to request the listing of an urgent application.
- Otherwise, first listing dates for:
i. IVO applications initiated by way of:
- Family Violence Safety Notice – not later than 14 days after service on the respondent (section 31 FVPA);
- Victoria Police FV and PSIO IVO applications - will be allocated through the use of the electronic mention diary;
- Non-Victoria Police FV and PSIO IVO applications – will be allocated by a Court Registrar.
- Unless otherwise ordered by the court, and subject to subparagraph d, second and subsequent listings will be adjourned to the nominal date of 15 June 2020. No appearance is required for this purpose.
- Applications for an extension of FV and PSIO IVOs, where an ex-parte interim extension order has been made, will be listed not later than 28 days after the date the interim extension order has been made where the respondent has not been served (see section 107 FVPA and section 84 PSIO).
- The nominal date of 15 June 2020 has been allocated to allow time for planning of future listings. This will ensure that the court can manage demand and give priority to the most urgent proceedings.
It is intended that, prior to 15 June 2020, the court will advise the parties of a new hearing date as new listing arrangement are developed. It is NOT expected that parties will be required to attend on 15 June 2020.
- Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT)
Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) applications
1. VOCAT will continue to process all applications for assistance from victims of crime at all courts throughout Victoria.
2. For urgent requests for assistance, please email your local court VOCAT registrar.
3. Contact with VOCAT by email would be preferred in relation to submitting documents, seeking updates, notifying readiness to proceed.
4. All directions hearings will be held by telephone and recorded by the Tribunal. Legal practitioners should notify the Tribunal of the most appropriate phone number to call.
5. All listed hearings will be adjourned, with a nominal date of 15 June 2020.
6. Parties will not be required to attend the Tribunal on 15 June 2020.
7. Prior to that date the tribunal will notify all parties of the adjourned hearing date.
Remote counselling and assessments
8. The Tribunal has authorised psychological counselling, where funded by the Tribunal, to be undertaken by phone or remotely.
9. The Tribunal has authorised psychologists/counsellor to undertake urgent report assessments by phone or remotely.
10. The Tribunal will continue to consider applications for interim awards of financial assistance, variations and payments, as they are lodged. Such applications are preferred by email where possible.