COVID-19 PROTOCOL FOR HEARINGS IN TRAFFIC LIGHT RED AREAS
The Tribunal acknowledges the importance of the Tribunal's work continuing to be done promptly. It will continue to do so within the restrictions in place under the COVID-19 Protection Framework - the 'traffic light system'.
The Tribunal has noted the transitional arrangements put in place by the Courts for the period from 6 December 2021 to 31 January 2022 when adopting the following procedures, which aim to align with the Court arrangements where appropriate in Red areas.
Some hearings may continue. The Tribunal will consider on a case by case basis, whether or not hearings can proceed through the use of an audio-visual link, ensuring the requirement for public hearings is still met. Other hearings may need to be postponed until a move to Traffic Light orange or green. Outcomes of consideration will be noted on the Tribunal's home page under 'Upcoming Hearings'.
Public access to hearings. Where a hearing is to proceed by AVL, the media and members of the public may contact the appointed Executive Officer by email and request a web link.
Charges can still be filed with the Tribunal. The Professional Conduct Committee and the Director of Proceedings can email signed and dated charges to the Tribunal.
Timetable directions. Parties should continue to follow timetable directions. If parties are not able to comply with current directions because of the COVID-19 restrictions, applications can be made to the Tribunal by Memorandum, preferably by consent if possible. Directions Conferences will continue as usual by way of an AVL conference.
Filing and Service. All documents, witness statements, applications etc, can be emailed to the Tribunal for filing. The Tribunal accepts that personal service or service by postal or courier delivery will not be possible during Traffic Light Red.
Affidavits. The Tribunal acknowledges that the New Zealand Law Society's opinion is an appropriate way of administering oaths, declarations and attestation of affidavits in circumstances of mandatory self-isolation NZLS | Executing and witnessing important documents (lawsociety.org.nz)
Executive Office for the Tribunal.All Executive Officers remain working remotely and are contactable by email and phone. The physical office of the Tribunal remains closed and mail is not being collected during the Traffic Light Red periods.
COVID-19 PROTOCOL FOR HEARINGS IN TRAFFIC LIGHT ORANGE AREAS
The Tribunal is an essential service. The Tribunal acknowledges the importance of its work continuing to be done promptly. It will continue to do so within the restrictions in place under the COVID-19 Protection Framework - the 'traffic light system'.
The Tribunal has noted the transitional arrangements put in place by the Courts for the period from 6 December 2021 to 31 January 2022 when adopting the following procedures, which aim to align the Tribunal's protocol with the Court arrangements where appropriate.
All hearings in Orange areas. The Tribunal will continue to consider case by case, how charges can appropriately be heard, whether in person or by the use of an audio-visual link (AVL), ensuring the requirement for public hearings is still met.
Public access to hearings. Where a hearing is to proceed by AVL, the media and members of the public may contact the appointed Executive Officer by email to request a web link. Media and members of the public are welcome to attend in-person hearings and details for both AVL and in-person hearings will be noted on the Tribunal's home page under 'Upcoming Hearings'.
In-person hearings. Those wishing to attend will be asked to contact the Executive Officer by email to request information on any Covid-19 restrictions in place for the hearing and the venue's protection framework plan. Please note that the Tribunal may need to restrict numbers of people in the public gallery if personal distancing restrictions, usually 1 metre, require a limit in the hearing space at in-person hearings.
Hybrid hearings. These may proceed using both AVL and in-person attendance to facilitate all parties, counsel and Tribunal members attending the scheduled hearing.
Filing and service. All documents, witness statements, applications etc, should still be emailed to the Tribunal for filing until further notice.
Affidavits. Affidavits should now be sworn or affirmed in the usual way during Traffic Light Orange, where meetings in-person can now take place. However, if for reasons of health and safety this is not possible the Tribunal acknowledges that the New Zealand Law Society's opinion is an appropriate way of administering oaths, declarations and attestation of affidavits in circumstances of mandatory self-isolation NZLS | Executing and witnessing important documents (lawsociety.org.nz)
Executive office for the Tribunal. All Executive Officers are contactable by email and phone. The physical office of the Tribunal will remain closed to all visitors until further notice. Courier services can deliver to the ground floor of the building.
Health and safety for in-person hearings.
- At the Tribunal's initial directions conference call a timetable will be set for both parties to provide to the Tribunal Chair, a list of all members of their party who are to attend the hearing and an indication of their vaccination status. The Tribunal Chair will decide on any issues arising from this in advance of the hearing, and may request the parties to attend an AVL pre-hearing conference prior to the hearing.
- A list must be provided to the Tribunal's Executive Officer two weeks prior to the hearing with the times each witness is due to arrive at the hearing. This is to ensure that a suitable space allowing for physical distancing can be arranged. Witnesses should not attend the hearing venue until just prior to their scheduled attendance and should bring their own religious text if they wish to take the oath.
- In-person hearings will be held in venues that enable physical distancing of at least one metre.
- Venue providers will also have a health and safety plan to ensure the health and safety of the public while on their premises. In most instances this will include a requirement that vaccination certificates are provided by anyone attending. A copy of the venue's plan can be provided on request from the Executive Officer.
- If unwell, do not attend the hearing. Witnesses should notify counsel as soon as possible if they become unwell.
- Before entering the hearing room, all attendees, including counsel, witnesses and the practitioner must scan the QR code and show their vaccination or exemption certificate.
- All persons working in the hearing room are required to maintain at least one metre physical distancing. The Tribunal's preference is for 2 metres separation between persons attending. Seats for members of the public will be spaced accordingly. Attendees are asked not to move the chairs and the public seating will be marked off. Attendance by members of the public will be limited to the number of allocated seats.
- Hand sanitiser will be available at both the entrance and exit to the hearing room. All attendees must use hand sanitiser just before entering and exiting the hearing room. Hand sanitiser will also be readily available within the hearing room.
- Cleaning products will be available on site to enable staff and counsel to keep their immediate areas clean.
- All people attending the hearing must wear a mask in and outside the hearing room unless exempted or the Tribunal Chair grants permission not to wear one.
- The Tribunal will not supply face masks and it will be the responsibility of the person bringing them to the hearing to dispose of them safely.
- Any concerns about health and safety practices in the hearing should be raised with the Executive Officer in the first instance.
- In the event of community transmission within the venue precinct, public health advice will be taken and further directions given.
Expectations of counsel
- Counsel are expected to assist the Tribunal by:
- Providing a vaccination status list of all members of their party, including themselves, who are to attend the hearing, no later than the date set by the Tribunal Chair.
- Briefing clients and witnesses on these protocols and public health measures including:
- Not to come to the hearing if unwell.
- To advise counsel as early as possible if they are unable to attend the hearing.
- Physical distancing expectations in the hearing room and within the venue precinct.
- How exhibits will be handled in their case.
- What they may expect by way of masks and hygiene supplies in the hearing room.
- Not attending the hearing venue until just prior to their scheduled attendance and bringing their own religious text if they wish to take the oath.
- Limits on attendance by support persons and members of the public.
- Reducing the need for attendance at the hearing of witnesses by reviewing each attendance in advance and:
- Considering and endeavouring to agree whether it is appropriate for any witness to participate remotely and applying to the Tribunal not less than 21 days in advance of the hearing date.
- Limiting the number of witnesses via the use of agreed facts.
- Providing a schedule of witnesses to the Tribunal's Executive Officer two weeks prior to the hearing with the times each witness is due to arrive at the hearing.
- Raising any deficiencies with cleaning, the availability of cleaning supplies or physical distancing with the Executive Officer immediately.
The Tribunal acknowledges the steps taken by the venue providers to ensure the safety of those who are attending the venue during COVID-19 Traffic Light Orange, including:
- A designated site manager to attend to hygiene, physical distancing and safe work practices.
- Access will be denied to those who:
- show signs of illness such as coughing and sneezing;
- report feeling unwell;
- have had close contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case; or
- are unwilling to scan the QR code and / or follow the Protection Framework arrangements of the venue, including vaccination certificates.
- Limiting the number of support persons for clients and witnesses and members of the public who wish to attend. Support persons should be limited to one unless by prior agreement from the Tribunal.
- Monitoring the provision of cleaning supplies such as hand sanitiser and cleaning products both inside and outside the hearing room.
- Reminding those attending the hearing of the need to take personal responsibility for their own health and wellbeing - including washing hands regularly, following hygiene practices and, if unwell, following Ministry of Health guidelines.