By Andrew Hack, Solicitor, and Stephen Mullette, Principal, of Matthews Folbigg Lawyers, in our Insolvency, Restructuring and Debt Recovery Group.
Due to COVID-19, not only are people encouraged to stay at home and avoid going out in public unnecessarily, you could be committing a crime if you do. But what if you have a court case on foot?
Telephone and audio visual links are now frequently being used to run lists and even hearings, where others are being adjourned or vacated. However the use of technology to run court matters is different depending on the court, the type of matter and even the circumstances of each individual case. In a series of blogs we look at examples of various court applications which give us an idea of how the courts are handling issues arising from COVID-19:
In JKC Australia LNG Pty Ltd -V- CH2M Hill Companies Ltd  WASCA 38 an application to adjourn an appeal hearing based upon “issues said to arise from the COVID-19 pandemic” was refused. The Court of Appeal did not accept submissions that the respondents’ senior counsel “would be at a significant disadvantage if he could not see and ‘read’ the court throughout the appeal hearing” – which was a reference to “the benefit of non-verbal communications”. Effectively this appears to be a submission that Senior Counsel would not be able to ‘read the room’. The WA Court of Appeal would not have a bar of it (pun intended), concluding “it is not the case that an appeal hearing by telephone is manifestly inadequate or that an appeal hearing by video‑link is inadequate.”
Conclusion: it would seem that appealing to a global pandemic (without more) to ask for an adjournment will not be enough.
Read the judgment here: JKC Australia LNG Pty Ltd -V- CH2M Hill Companies Ltd  WASCA 38
The NSW Bar Association has compiled this useful document on the courts’ procedures as a result of COVID-19 protective measures.
If you would like more information or advice in relation to insolvency, restructuring or debt recovery law, contact Andrew Hack at firstname.lastname@example.org or a Principal of the Matthews Folbigg Insolvency, Restructuring & Debt Recovery Group:
Jeffrey Brown on (02) 9806 7446 or email@example.com
Stephen Mullette on (02) 9806 7459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.