COVID-19 Restrictions and The Criminal Court – What Changes?

26 JUL 2021


The restrictions across Greater Sydney impact the Court and the ability to hear criminal matters. There are restrictions in both the Local and District Courts. 

In both the Local and District Courts, face masks and social distancing is mandatory.

In the Local Court, all defended Hearings listed to occur during the lockdown will not proceed. The matter is instead listed for Mention on that date, where it will be determined how the matter will proceed and if a new Hearing date can be set at the present time. The availability of the Court to relist the Hearing will depend on the location and how many other matters need to be relisted as a result of the current restrictions. 

Where matters are listed for mention, including those that were originally listed for Hearing, written notices of pleadings and submissions will be accepted by the Court. If this method is not preferred, the Court will also accept telephone appearances and Audio-Visual Link (AVL) appearances. However, email is preferred by the Court. Email addresses of your Local Court can be found on the Services NSW website. 

Matters that are listed for Sentence, where a Sentence Assessment Report has been ordered, will proceed with the person present in Court with their legal representative. In the circumstances that a defendant is unable to attend Court, the court must be contacted, and a request must be made to appear either in writing or via telephone or AVL. 

All defendants who are in custody can only appear via AVL. This includes initial Bail determinations in the Local Court. 

In the District Court, all new Jury Trials have been halted and will not proceed during the current lockdown. Jury Trials that commenced prior to the Lockdown will continue, with social distancing measure in place. However, as of 20 July 2021, the District Court will proceed by way of AVL only. There will be no physical appearances for any matter.  All Bail applications within the District Court will occur in Judges’ Chambers, unless specified to be otherwise. 

Should you have any questions regarding changes to the Criminal Court during the current restrictions, please contact Marsdens Law Group on (02) 4626 5077 and ask to speak to someone in our Criminal Law Department. 

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

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