President's Message


Resumption of selected jury trials in the District Court of NSW and New South Wales Bar Association Protocol for In-Person Hearings while Social Distancing

This morning the Attorney General announced the decision of the Chief Judge of the District Court to recommence jury trials at selected locations from 15 June. The Attorney General's media release, which can be found here, indicates that for the time being and subject to advice from NSW Health, jury trials will only be held at the Sydney Downing Centre complex and Parramatta and Newcastle courthouses.

The announcement is a welcome indication that the District Court is making plans for a graduated return to face-to-face in-court hearings. We look forward to a resumption even though we recognise that a normal volume of trials cannot take place immediately.

Given the critical time in which we find ourselves with respect to the progress of the management of the pandemic, the Association's primary concern remains the welfare of all participants in the court process. The Association will continue to work with the courts to ensure that all persons attending court can do so safely and that persons in high risk categories, who are ill, or have carer responsibilities, cannot be compelled to attend court where physical appearances are listed. We are, of course, aware that the courts are alive to the work health and safety implications of a return to in-person hearings and are developing protocols in this regard.

Recognising the importance of this issue to our members, the Association has itself prepared a Protocol for In-Person Hearings while Social Distancing. As with the Protocol for Remote Hearings regarding AVL proceedings which was published in my President's Message from last Friday, the Protocol was developed by a Sub-Committee comprised of members from a wide range of areas of practice and has been designed to apply to all in-person hearings, not just criminal jury trials. It is intended to provide guidance to practitioners who are required to appear in court in person during the COVID-19 pandemic while social distancing restrictions continue or risks to health otherwise persist. This Protocol is likely to be amended as circumstances change.

COVID-19:Information for attending Court

The New South Wales Bar Association’s consolidated guide to COVID-19-related court arrangements has today again been updated in terms of recent developments.

Members are advised in this regard that, although the Bar Association is regularly updating the COVID-19 page of its website as information comes to hand, please refer to the latest court resources directly as developments are changing quickly at this time. Do not make any assumptions regarding your case without first doing so. Links to the various court and tribunal pages are provided in the body of the guide.

Message from the Governor

As you would have read we were honoured today to receive a message from Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW. We are very grateful for Her Excellency taking the time to write to us.

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