​THE MAGISTRATES COURT OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA
ARRANGEMENTS FOR MAGISTRATES COURTS FROM 20 DECEMBER 2021

CBD and metropolitan Magistrates Courts will move to a higher level of COVID restrictions from 20 December 2021.

Until South Australia reaches a 90% vaccination rate, the Magistrates Court is facing a high-risk situation.   COVID exposure sites are increasing daily in all areas of the CBD and suburbs and two courtrooms in the Adelaide Magistrates Court have been listed as exposure sites.

The Courts have a responsibility to protect judiciary, staff, and court users. The Magistrates Court has a high volume of traffic in court buildings and many people attending court are particularly vulnerable members of our community who are unvaccinated or may have been at an exposure site.  This puts our court staff and court users at risk of coming into contact with a COVID-19 case.

Increasing COVID restrictions can mitigate that risk whilst we continue to deliver essential Magistrates Court services.

Increased restrictions at the Adelaide Magistrates Court and suburban magistrates courts from 20 December 2021 include:

  • Entry to court buildings will be restricted to court users with business with the court where possible, to reduce the number of people in court buildings and courtrooms.
  • Court users are encouraged to attend court alone, or with only one support person, rather than multiple family members and friends.
  • Court users will be required to use QR codes to check-in to every courtroom, in addition to checking-in when entering a court building.
  • Circuits may be affected and court users should check the CourtSA website before attending.
  • Rather than attending a Magistrates Court building in person for enquiries, court users should telephone or email the Contact Centre.
  • School visits will be cancelled.
  • External bookings for court facilities will be cancelled.

These higher level restrictions will be reviewed in the week commencing 10 January 2022 unless there is a significant shift in the number of exposure sites or other risks which warrant introducing additional restrictions.

Amendments to existing arrangements in place since 10 August include:

  • All documents submitted to the court electronically, including written submissions, must be submitted to the Court no later than 1.00 pm the day prior to the day of the hearing.
  • Requests for an adjournment in the criminal jurisdiction must be submitted to the Court no later than 1.00 pm the day prior to the day of the hearing.
  • The ODPP and MIBU (police prosecution) may appear by AVL

Existing arrangements in place since 10 August will continue

Note:  Where reference to AVL is made in this document, please note that the use of AVL is dependent on the availability of the technology and may not be available at all locations.

COVID SAFETY INITIATIVES

  • Sheriff’s Officers ask a list of predetermined questions to all court users at Point of Entry.
  • COVID SAfe Check-In is required when entering court buildings.
  • Masks are available for court users.
  • Hand Sanitiser is provided at Point of Entry, lifts and courtrooms.
  • COVID signage is posted to support social distancing.
  • Important COVID-19 information is posted on the CourtSA website. 

ATTENDANCE AT COURT BUILDINGS – GENERAL DIRECTIVES

Parties and practitioners are required to wear a mask whilst moving around court buildings and whilst seated in public waiting areas and public galleries. In court, persons required to speak for a protracted period may be excused from this obligation and the mask removed while speaking.

Parties and practitioners are not to come to the Court, if they have:

  • a confirmed case of COVID-19, or
  • been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or
  • been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting the results, or
  • been directed to isolate or quarantine by SA Health;
  • recently arrived in SA and are subject to quarantining requirements,  or
  • arrived from a State whose border is closed or restricted by the South Australian Government within the past 14 days, or
  • a fever or chills (with no alternative illness that explains these symptoms), cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath or loss of taste and smell.

Obligations to appear in court may be excused in certain circumstances. If you do not intend to appear because you honestly and reasonably believe you should self-isolate, you should do the following to support any application you may later wish to make to be excused from your obligation:

Criminal Jurisdiction

  • Contact CourtSA by email enquiry@courts.sa.gov.auor phone 8204 2444 to advise the Court.
  • If you are represented, tell your lawyer.
  • Contact SA Police or the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions by telephone.
  • Obtain a certificate from your doctor.
  • If you are already at the court building, seek assistance from Sheriff’s Officers to complete a Proof of Attendance Contact Details form.

Civil Jurisdiction

  • Contact CourtSA by email enquiry@courts.sa.gov.auor phone 8204 2444 at least 24 hours prior to the hearing
  • If you are represented, tell your lawyer.
  • If possible, advise the other party(s)
  • Obtain a certificate from your doctor and provide it to the court.
  • If you are already at the court building, seek assistance from Sheriff’s Officers to complete a Proof of Attendance Contact Details form.

If a party or practitioner has a condition that makes them vulnerable to infection and for that reason does not feel safe attending at the Court, they should advise the registry by 9.30am on the day before the hearing, provide a direct contact phone number and seek leave of the Court to appear at the hearing by phone.

Parties should allow extra time to be processed through point of entry security when entering court buildings due to social distancing measures.

Parties and practitioners are not to approach Court staff and must always maintain a minimum distance from others of 1.5 metres and observe density limits.

No documents are to be handed up in Court.

Where possible, parties should lodge documents via CourtSA. https://courtsa.courts.sa.gov.au

​Where it is not possible to use CourtSA, documents should be filed in the approved form by email or post (addresses provided at the end of this document).

All emailed documents should be signed and lodged in PDF format. Documents too large for email should be posted or lodged in a registry filing box located in a Magistrates Court building.

Communication with the Court is required to be via the CourtSA website (Portal) or email to the relevant court.

Parties and practitioners are reminded of the requirement that all parties must be copied into any email communication with the Court.

Parties are required to bring their own water as water jugs will not be provided in courtrooms and water fountains are unavailable.

Lecterns have been removed from all courtrooms. However, during trials and lengthy hearings they can be made available upon request to in-court staff.

Hand sanitiser will be provided at the following locations in every courtroom

  • Bench
  • Judicial Support Table
  • Bar Table
  • Witness Box
  • Sheriff’s Officer table

ARRANGEMENTS FOR CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS

Listing and trials are continuing as scheduled.

The court asks to be notified of any parties who are at high risk of serious illness should they be exposed to COVID-19 and will give priority to those matters where possible.

For overnight arrest matters:

  • Prosecution is to provide an Information with an apprehension report attached so that defence can obtain instructions quickly, and
  • All defendants will appear by AVL.

Defendants in custody will appear by AVL or telephone, with the exception of trials and Treatment Intervention Court where they will appear in person.

Parties are also encouraged to put together an agreed statement of facts when a matter is to be called on for a plea where possible.

Modification of Criminal Court Practices

Prosecution and defence are encouraged to negotiate and disclose as much as possible, to attempt to reach an early resolution of matters.

The court will attempt to enable section 22 conferences where possible. A courtroom may be used to allow for social distancing.

Trials that are unable to proceed due to reasons related to COVID-19 restrictions will be adjourned. Where trials can proceed prosecution and defence are to appear in person.

Reports, references and written submissions must be tendered to the Court electronically no later than 1.00 pm the day prior to the day of the hearing.

Requests to appear by AVL or Telephone

Requests for attendance by AVL or telephone will be considered favourably by Magistrates but possibly not deemed suitable for guilty pleas.

Prosecution will appear in person whenever possible, subject to the arrangements specified for major indictable matters.

Permission to appear by telephone or AVL can be granted in the following circumstances:

  • Requests by a solicitor for permission to appear by AVL or telephone will be at the discretion of the individual magistrate.
  • If the matter is to involve submissions, the magistrate may be more inclined to allow permission if written submissions have been delivered to the registry mailbox beforehand.
  • Applications to appear by AVL or telephone are to be submitted by email to Registry or the chambers mailbox no later than 1.00 pm on the day prior to the day of the hearing.

Registry will advise the solicitor of the outcome of the request no later than the day before the hearing.

When submitting a request to appear by telephone the practitioner must:

  • provide a direct landline or mobile telephone number,
  • ensure that he/she is available to answer the telephone,
  • understand that the telephone call may be made at any time during the relevant list,
  • understand that if the telephone call is not answered, the matter will be dealt with in a manner that the relevant magistrate deems appropriate,
  • understand that it is up to the practitioner to inform themselves of the outcome.

AVL is limited to 3 lines for connection.

Practitioners are discouraged from asking to use the AVL facilities of a court to appear by AVL in matters in another court.

WebEx may be used to facilitate some hearings. When used, the court registry will email a meeting request to parties. Parties join the hearing by clicking on the button in the email if they have a device with a camera. Alternatively, they can join by telephone using the details provided in the email. It is important that solicitors ensure they make themselves available from the appointed time, bearing in mind that the court may not always call at that exact time.

Administrative Adjournments – First Mention

For a police prosecution matters any request for an adjournment by a defendant or counsel on the first mention will be allowed administratively, provided that the request is submitted to Registry no later than 1.00 pm on day prior to the day of the hearing.

For a prosecution matters by any other prosecuting authority any request by a defendant or counsel for an adjournment on the first mention will be allowed administratively so long as that request includes confirmation of the consent of the other party, and the request is submitted to Registry no later than 1.00 pm on the day prior to the day of the hearing.

For a police or other prosecuting authority prosecution where there are multiple defendants, a request for an administrative adjournment will not be allowed unless it is made by all defendants.

The parties will be advised of the new date by registry.

Administrative Adjournments – Second Mention

Requests for an administrative adjournment of a second mention date will only be allowed if made by a solicitor.

Requests by a solicitor for an adjournment of a second mention will be allowed administratively so long as that request includes confirmation of the consent of the other party, a list of the dates that the solicitor is not available, and provided that the solicitor has not previously appeared on the relevant matter. Any such request is to be submitted no later than 2 working days prior to the day of the hearing.

The parties will be advised of the new date by registry.

Major Indictable Matters

The ODPP and MIBU (police prosecution) may appear by AVL

A request to adjourn a major indictable matter without attendance of counsel is at the discretion of the magistrate and will require confirmation of the consent of MIBU (police prosecution) or the ODPP, and must include the reasons for the adjournment.

Practitioners are to email the court confirming the consent of prosecution and providing reasons for the adjournment by 1.00 pm the day before the matter is listed. Permission is at the discretion of the individual magistrate.

If the request is granted, the solicitor will be advised of the new date by registry.

The court will allow pleas to be entered through counsel in the absence of the defendant, provided a copy of the relevant Information with the following endorsement signed by the defendant is delivered by email to the court and the ODPP no later than 1.00 pm the day prior to the day of the hearing.

‘I, (name of defendant), plead guilty/not guilty to the within charges. Signature. Date’. Practitioners are able to appear remotely at the discretion of the Court and where they have provided the necessary details.

ARRANGEMENTS FOR CIVIL PROCEEDINGS

The Court may permit parties and practitioners to appear by phone after the first directions hearing, where it can be accommodated and there is compliance with arrangements made.

When submitting a request to appear by telephone a party or practitioner must

  • provide a direct landline or mobile telephone number,
  • ensure that he/she is available to answer the telephone,
  • understand that the telephone call may be made at any time during the relevant list,
  • understand that if the telephone call is not answered, the matter will be dealt with in a manner that the relevant magistrate deems appropriate,
  • understand that it is up to the party or practitioner to inform themselves of the outcome.

However, parties and practitioners are encouraged to seek consent orders, if appropriate, which can be made administratively without the need for attendance. Parties and practitioners should send in draft consent orders by email. Emails for consent orders are to be received by Registry by 4.00pm the day before the hearing.

Hearings and Trials in All Actions

‘Hearings’ includes directions hearings, applications listed for argument, drivers licence appeals, Registrars ISUM and enforcement lists.

Subject to the Attendance at Court directives, parties and/or practitioners are to appear in person at Court unless they are granted leave to appear via phone due to one of the reasons listed under Attendance at Court directives at the beginning of this document or at the discretion of the Magistrate.

Mediations

Subject to the Attendance at Court directives at the beginning of this document, mediations will occur in person where social distancing requirements can be met unless the parties are granted leave of the Court or, following consultation with the Mediation Unit, are permitted to appear via phone or video link.

For Mention Only Dates

If a party wishes to be heard on a ‘for mention only’ date they are to advise the Registry by 9.30a.m. on the day before the hearing and provide consent orders or, where there is no consent, they are to appear in person.

In the absence of this advice the action will be determined administratively and may be dismissed.

CONTACT DETAILS FOR MAGISTRATES COURTS

CourtSA website (Portal): https://courtsa.courts.sa.gov.au

​Magistrates Court Registry Contact Details:

Phone:                                           (08) 8204 2444

Email:

Adelaide                                        AMCRegistry@courts.sa.gov.au

Berri                                               berri@courts.sa.gov.au

Christies Beach                          christiesbeach@courts.sa.gov.au

Elizabeth                                      elizabeth@courts.sa.gov.au

Mount Gambier                         mountgambier@courts.sa.gov.au

Murray Bridge                            murraybridge@courts.sa.gov.au

Port Adelaide                              portadelaide@courts.sa.gov.au

Port Augusta                               portaugusta@courts.sa.gov.au

Port Lincoln                                 portlincoln@courts.sa.gov.au

Port Pirie                                      portpirie@courts.sa.gov.au

Whyalla                                        whyalla@courts.sa.gov.au

 

Postal Address:

Adelaide                                       PO Box 6115, Halifax Street, Adelaide, SA, 5000

Berri                                             PO Box 235, Berri, SA, 5343

Christies Beach                          PO Box 5, Lonsdale, SA, 5160

Elizabeth                                     PO Box 160, Elizabeth, SA, 5112

Mount Gambier                         PO Box 723, Mount Gambier, SA, 5290

Murray Bridge                            PO Box 420, Murray Bridge, SA, 5253

Port Adelaide                              PO Box 3215, Port Adelaide, SA, 5015

Port Augusta                               PO Box 45, Port Augusta, SA, 5700

Port Lincoln                                PO Box 266, Port Lincoln, SA, 5606

Port Pirie                                     PO Box 583, Port Pirie, SA, 5540

Whyalla                                        PO Box 694, Whyalla, SA, 5600​

 

JUDGE MARY-LOUISE HRIBAL
CHIEF MAGISTRATE​