Update to circuit sittings throughout Victoria

6 April 2020

The Court has made changes in light of coronavirus (COVID-19) developments.

The County Court remains committed to providing access to justice across regional Victoria during this period.

Until further notice, the County Court has changed how circuit sittings at regional locations will be conducted due to the COVID-19 virus and having regard to the following matters:

  • Jury trials have been suspended
  • Movement of people between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victorian locations is to be minimised in the interests of regional communities
  • Measures are being put in place to reduce the number of people attending regional court locations to allow social distancing in Magistrates’ Court matters.

The County Court is working with the profession to leverage technology to run virtual hearings to enable parties to participate remotely.

Criminal matters

Insofar as the regional work in the criminal jurisdiction is concerned, the County Court will work with parties who have matters listed at circuit locations in order to conduct work remotely (where possible) utilising technology including telephone conferences, and audio-visual solutions.

County Court criminal jury trials cannot proceed until juries recommence. The County Court will focus on indictable pleas and sentences, sentence appeals from the Magistrates’ Court, appropriate pre-trial hearings and the case management of vacated jury trials.

Civil Matters

Although no juries are available, it may be appropriate that civil jury trials be heard as causes. The Court will work with the parties and their lawyers to process proceedings in circuit lists, particularly causes and serious injury applications.

Mediation services and hearings conducted remotely, using technology solutions, will continue with co-operation from the profession. Circuit sittings are being maintained for disposition of as much business as practicable by these remote procedures.

Ongoing monitoring

We will continue to closely monitor the situation with a view to re-commencing conventional County Court circuit sittings as quickly as possible.

Updates to regional court work and circuit sittings due to coronavirus

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Page last updated: 6 April 2020