Principles on a Successful Recovery: Reporting of Online Hearings of the Federal Courts
8 July 2020
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Courts (High Court of Australia (High Court), Federal Court of Australia (Federal Court), Federal Circuit Court of Australia (Federal Circuit Court) and Family Court of Australia (Family Court)) have each put in place alternative arrangements for listings and other events that would ordinarily require in person attendance and have had to adjourn or otherwise delay certain hearings where such arrangements are not appropriate or practicable.
In many cases the conduct of matters has been adapted to make use of audio-visual link (AVL) or audio link technologies. The Law Council commends the Federal Courts for engaging in clear, consistent and constructive communication with the legal profession throughout this process.
As Australia moves into the COVID-19 recovery period, the Law Council will work collaboratively with the Federal Courts to identify common goals and priorities for the administration of justice that both address legacy issues and embrace opportunities to which COVID-19 has given rise. The increased use by the Courts of online hearings and of a range of additional technologies for that purpose is an example of an outcome of the COVID-19 experience that gives rise to both issues and opportunities.
The Law Council is keen to further engage with the Court on matters relating to the enhancement of the processes and procedures surrounding the use of such technologies in the future while at the same time addressing the issues for open justice and the safeguards that are necessary to protect the Court and litigants as it does so.
Against that background the Law Council has developed the following principles for further consideration and consultation by and between the profession and the Courts.