The NSW Supreme Court have again updated the public on their COVID-19 Protocols on 31 January 2022. Included in these protocols is a “trial bubble”. What exactly does this mean and does this apply to other Courts in NSW?
The “Trial Bubble”
A “trial bubble” refers to the process of legal representatives, personnel and jurors undergoing Rapid Antigen Tests from the first day of trial and every 72 hours following that. The Supreme Court has established this protocol to best keep trials COVID free.
In addition, one needs to be double vaccinated to enter the Court and Masks are required to be worn at all times. The only exception to this is if one is addressing the Court, at which time they are allowed to remove their mask.
Amendments have also been made to the Jury Regulation 2015, allowing for three additional jurors to be secured as back-up, in the circumstance that an original juror becomes ill or catches COVID-19.
How is this different from other Courts?
In the District Court, a similar ‘Trial Bubble’ exists, where Rapid Antigen Testing occurs every 48 hours. The main different is that the jury amendment only applies to the Supreme Court, meaning there are no back up jurors in the District Court, should one get sick.
Furthermore, in person appearances have resumed in the District Court for all matters other than Trial, with legal representatives needing to request to appear via Audio Visual Link where required.
Currently in the Local Court, Defended Hearings are vacated up until 11 February 2022. Hearings up until this date will now be listed for Mention to determine a new Hearing date. Otherwise, Court Attendance is not encouraged unless the Court Orders so. Each Court is differing on their instructions and preference. As such, legal representatives should seek appearance via Audio Visual Link or Email and confirm attendance in person is not required.