COVID-19

This page was last updated on 30 June 2020

Is Banco Chambers still open?

Banco Chambers remains open and operational although all required social distancing guidelines are being observed.

Are your barristers still working?

Yes. Our barristers have continued to appear in the courts (albeit virtually). Examples of recent appearances are set out here and here.

How do I get in touch with one of the barristers? How do I brief them?

Our barristers can still be contacted in the usual way, and all briefing enquiries can be directed to our Clerk, Jeh Coutinho. Banco Chambers has corporate subscriptions with Zoom and Microsoft Teams. We are able to organise and facilitate conferences and court hearings on either platform, and our barristers are also adept at meeting with you over other platforms such as Cisco Webex, Skype, and Blue Jeans.

There may be cases where it is necessary to have meetings in person, and in those cases we have rooms large enough and practices in place to facilitate those meetings on site at Banco Chambers.

All of our barristers are able to accept briefs electronically. If you need assistance in setting up a conference or making arrangements to brief a barrister electronically, please do not hesitate to ask.

What is happening at the courts?

Courts are hearing matters online but are now also planning to resume in person hearings in the near future. In particular:

HIGH COURT OF AUSTRALIA

The High Court of Australia is continuing to conduct the hearing of Special Leave Applications and appeal hearings using its own video conferencing technology. In some cases counsel are permitted to attend court to use the court's video link technology to participate in hearings where the judges are located interstate.

FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA

While no formal announcement has been made by the court, some in person hearings have resumed albeit subject to the observation of social distancing restrictions in the court room. Otherwise in many cases matters are continuing to be heard online, predominantly over Microsoft Teams (as to which, please note the Court's practice note).

SUPREME COURT OF NSW

The Chief Justice released a statement on 20 May 2020 announcing that “some face-to-face civil hearings” would resume on 1 June 2020, with criminal jury trials to follow from 29 June 2020.

A three stage process was foreshadowed, beginning with hearings with limited parties and/or witnesses in the first stage, followed by hearings with multiple parties and/or witnesses in the second stage. In the last stage, registrar’s lists and court annexed mediations would return.

To facilitate these changes whilst still complying with social distancing restrictions, the court anticipates having staggered start and finish times, as well as temperature checks for visitors to the court building.

Critically, the Chief Justice noted in his statement that “because of the improved technology, some of the lists will continue to be dealt with online.” This means that skills and experience in advocacy in virtual hearings will remain important into the foreseeable future.

Read the full statement

Supreme Court of NSW COVID 19 Page

DISTRICT COURT OF NSW

From 1 June 2020, it will no longer be the Court’s general policy that hearings proceed by use of a virtual courtroom. Rather, for contested civil matters where there are witnesses to be called to give evidence, whether a hearing proceeds virtually or in person will be subject to the discretion of a judge, having regard to the relevant social distancing restrictions. In particular, the Court is limiting the number of persons in the courtroom to 10 persons.

However, list matters before Judges, judicial registrars or assistant registrars will continue to be conducted using the online court.

It is intended that criminal jury trials will resume from 15 June 2020 at some, but not all, District Court venues. Further measures will be adopted in relation to maintaining social distancing for jurors and other court attendees, including empanelment by video link, and spreading jurors out across the courtroom.

District Court announcement for arrangements for civil and criminal matters

District Court announcement for jury trials

District Court of NSW Information Page

LOCAL COURT OF NSW AND CORONER'S COURT

The Local Court has published a memorandum setting out the arrangements for the return to normal sitting arrangements in criminal matters. Civil matters are yet to resume in person.

Listings at the Coroner’s Court will resume on 1 June 2020.

Local Court of NSW Announcement

NCAT

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal is continuing to conduct hearings online or by telephone.

    I have an online hearing, how should I prepare?

    Click here for a fact sheet on preparing for online court appearances.

    What else has been happening at Banco Chambers?

    Our barristers have built up an extensive body of experience in preparing for and making online court appearances. Our experiences have been consolidated into an Online Practice and Court Appearance CPD. The CPD covers the latest developments and judgements in relation to online practice at the Courts, practical considerations for virtual practice, and practical considerations for preparing for a virtual hearing.

    40 different Banco barristers have delivered the CPD online over various platforms to approximately 2,000 solicitors across more than 30 firms and government agencies across Australia. We are continuing to present the CPD and if you or your firm are interested in receiving it please contact our Clerk.

    Moreover, a number of our barristers have begun appearing and advising in COVID 19 related cases including:

    • Special Commissions of Inquiry in relation to COVID 19 incidents;
    • Insolvency proceedings resulting from corporate collapses induced by COVID 19;
    • Disputes between landlords and tenants in relation to the non-payment of rent; and
    • General commercial disputes arising from COVID 19 related events of frustration, delay, or force majeure.