Supplementary Remote Hearing Protocol for Courts of New Zealand

This supplementary remote hearing protocol is to be read in conjunction with whatever iteration of new guidance one of the courts put out today.  It applies to all remote hearings conducted at levels one, two, three, four, and the hidden level five that you can only unlock by completing all the other levels first.


Business of the courts

All courts will continue to hear priority proceedings, these include bail applications and appeals, applications for freezing orders, and all spurious and non-spurious applications for habeas corpus.

Owing to the spirit of the times the Courts will not hear arguments relating to duties of care in negligence that turn on proximity, or contractual interpretation claims that turn on the doctrine of infection.


Hearings by AVL

Most hearings are now by AVL.  All courts use the same VMR technology.  The High Court and District Court permit the use of Zoom but for some reason the Court of Appeal forbids it.  It is not intended that any explanation will be given about that.

While not accepting Zoom, the Court of Appeal will permit you to appear remotely by Snapchat, recording your submissions in a series of Snapchat videos, to be sent to the registry.  Questions from the bench will be sent to you by return Snapchat video and, if the judge thinks the question is a really zingy one, posted to the Court of Appeal’s Snap story.

Supreme Court hearings will be facilitated exclusively through Houseparty.

If Houseparty is unavailable, then counsel are permitted to travel to the nearest Supreme Court Justice’s bubble and shout their submissions from the footpath.

At the end of a hearing, the matter will be adjourned apart heard.


AVL hearing etiquette

Counsel will be muted when not making submissions and, at the discretion of the Court, muted when making them too.

Counsel are not required to be gowned except when it comes to dressing gowns in which case counsel are required not to be gowned.

A formal standard of attire is required – after all, you’re not in the District Court any more.

You are not required to stand when the judges enter, unless you think giving the bench a close up of your crotch will help your case in which case go for it.


Hearings in person

Hearings in person will continue to be conducted (either in person in their entirety or partially through AVL to facilitate the attendance of one or more participants).  The following modifications will apply:

  • Queen’s Counsel seating priority now means they will sit furthest from the bench.
  • Witnesses being sworn-in will be asked to place their hand two metres from a Bible.
  • The Court will not accept any documents to be handed up.  Instead, any documents should be printed on size A1 paper in at least size 72 font, so that they can be read from a safe distance.
  • Should any physical exhibit need to be inspected, it should not be handed up.  Instead, it should be left outside the courtroom in a sufficiently open and ventilated space.  The Court will then use its powers to undertake a view pursuant to s 82 of the Evidence Act 2006.


Other matters

Please avoid the following phrases in written and oral submissions:

  • Just to touch on this next point.
  • Hand in glove.
  • A close reading of the statutory text.
  • Noscitur a sociis.



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